How to Care for Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

The Westfall Orthodontics team hands out a lot of advice to patients across western Virginia, ranging from recommended treatments to how long treatment might take to suggestions on caring for smiles between orthodontic visits. In fact, the question of caring for your smile between orthodontic visits comes up so much that we put together this short guide to help you maintain your oral health and get the most out of your treatment! It doesn’t take much to care for your smile between visits, but the tips below might not be common knowledge to everyone. Read on below for our top tips for caring for your smile between orthodontic visits, especially when you might have to wait longer than usual to see us! 

Maintain your dental hygiene routine

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is always important, but did you know it’s an essential part of your treatment plan too? Tooth decay and gum disease may lead to complications in your orthodontic treatment, and can even affect your final results. These guidelines will help you maintain clean teeth and a healthy mouth, and can help keep your treatment on track:  

  • Brush at least three times a day, ideally after each meal and once before bed.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush in a circular pattern across the teeth to effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles.
  • Floss at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness.
  • Use antimicrobial and fluoridated mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health.

Care for your appliances

Dental appliance care may add a few minutes to your daily oral hygiene routine, but with time it’ll practically feel like second nature! Keeping your appliances clean not only protects your oral health, but helps ensure that equipment doesn’t wear down or break over time. 

If you have braces, you already know that it can take some skillful maneuvering to clean around the brackets and wires. For best results, we recommend:

  • brushing around every part of your braces
  • brushing every surface of every tooth
  • brushing until your brackets are clean and shiny
  • flossing every night before you go to bed
  • using tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas

If you wear Invisalign, you should be following the same basic guidelines for dental hygiene, but you’ll need to care for your aligners too. Always rinse them off before putting them back in your mouth, and remember to clean them well with soap and water at least twice a day. 

If you notice any build-up, you can soak your aligners in an oral apparatus cleaning fluid to remove it. You can clean them with toothpaste too, but this increases the risk of scratching, dulling, or otherwise deforming them; soaking them is your best bet for safely and thoroughly cleaning them. You should never clean them with or soak them in hot water, and remember to keep them away from heat sources so they retain their shape. 

Limit your sugar intake

Cavities can negatively affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since most orthodontic procedures tend to increase the risk of cavities. To combat this, avoid sugary snacks and drinks as much as possible. Food that is high in sugar and starch encourages plaque growth, which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. 

Sugar is also a carbohydrate, and carbs fuel the acidic compounds that cause cavities to form. This is bad enough on teeth without braces, but add in brackets and wires and you’ve got multiple places where bad bacteria can hide and multiply! Swap sugary drinks for water instead—it’s good for your body and can help flush food particles out of your braces and from in-between your teeth. 

Make a travel kit

We recommend that all of our patients stay prepared for unexpected orthodontic emergencies by keeping a “care kit” with them at all times. Some of the items we recommend including are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for brushing wherever you are
  • floss or ortho picks to use after eating if you have the time and space to do so
  • orthodontic wax, which can be used to cover any areas causing you irritation
  • extra rubber bands
  • lip balm for dry lips resulting from braces
  • a small cup for rinsing with water, which helps dislodge any trapped food particles
  • an unsharpened pencil (you can use the eraser end to push stray brace wires back into place)

Throw these items and whatever else you think would be useful into a small, portable bag and you’ll have everything you need in a pinch! This can end up saving you quite a bit of time, trouble, and discomfort if you need to perform unexpected care, you end up having to wait longer than expected for your next appointment, or if you simply want to keep your teeth and appliance clean on the go. 

Follow your orthodontist’s guidance!

As a trained and experienced orthodontist, Dr. Westfall is an expert on all things smile-related! It’s crucial that you listen to his instructions for your treatment plan. 

For example, you may have elastics to wear with your braces. You should continue to change them out exactly as directed in between your follow-up appointments. If you’ve recently completed your treatment with us, always wear your retainer as directed to keep your newly straightened smile in place. Your compliance is key to the overall success of your treatment, so stay on top of our recommendations at all times. 

Smile wide and bright with Westfall Orthodontics

We should all be striving for excellent oral health by maintaining a good dental hygiene routine. However, this is especially important for anyone wearing braces or clear aligners! By following the guidelines and tips we’ve listed above, you’ll be able to keep your mouth in tip-top shape as we work to straighten your smile.  

We’re rooting for you, even when you’re not in our Richlands, Abingdon, or Bristol offices! Our expert team is always available to answer your questions or address any concerns you might have about your treatment plan, your smile, or anything else. Caring for your smile is a lifelong process, and it’s never a bad time to make sure that you’re doing all you can to keep your treatment on track.

Do you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic care? Would you like to learn more about how you can improve your oral health? Get in touch with us today to schedule a FREE initial consultation or follow-up appointment with Dr. Westfall and the rest of our talented team. We look forward to seeing your smile!