Happy New Year! We’re still trying to figure out how 2019 flew by so fast, but in the meantime, it feels like a good time to give some thought to improving your oral health in the new year. Fresh starts can be fun and exciting, even if you aren’t big on resolutions, and giving your smile a boost doesn’t take much effort at all. There’s just something about the energy at this time of year that seems to inspire positive, lasting change in people. You may ask well take advantage of it!
While the people around you are probably planning to eat healthier, exercise more regularly, and maybe finally save up enough for that big vacation they’ve always wanted, we’re all about healthy smiles here. That’s why the Westfall Orthodontics team has put together this collection of tips and tricks to help you get your smile in shape for 2020! To learn more about how you can make your smile stand out in the new year, keep reading below.
Brush up on your dental hygiene
As simple as it sounds, brushing and flossing really is the easiest way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. We recommend brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day for two minutes each time, along with flossing every night before bed.
Patients in braces should always pay close attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, carefully cleaning around the wires. If you find this difficult, interdental brushes are a great option for getting in between the wires and teeth to remove that hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. Ortho-picks are also designed to make flossing with braces much easier and more effective.
Get back to the basics
It’s likely that you already have a pretty solid brushing and flossing routine in place. However, it’s still worth reviewing the guidelines occasionally since recommendations can and do change from time to time. While everyone knows that brushing and flossing are an essential part of keeping the mouth clean, many don’t realize that how you do it is almost as important as how often you should do it. Taking oral hygiene back to the basics can help!
In order to successfully remove the plaque and bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay, here are some of the fundamental rules to follow.
- Brush all the teeth every time, and be consistent when brushing across each tooth.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle gently against the gum line.
- Brush from the base of the tooth up to the chewing surface.
- Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of teeth.
- Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
- Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months, or after any illness.
- Floss every night before bed.
- Take advantage of all the available tools
Flossing can be tricky when you’re in braces, especially at the start while you’re still getting used to everything. Along with ortho-picks, floss threaders can make your job a little easier. This tool threads a bit like a needle, and works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the archwire. This lets you grab the floss on each end, and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums. It may sound complicated, but it really is simple! If you’re still feeling unsure about it, let us know and we’ll give you a quick demonstration the next time you’re in the office.
Waterpiks and other oral irrigators can also be used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing. These instruments shoot targeted high-pressure streams of water into your mouth, helping to remove any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces for a deep clean.
Healthier foods lead to a healthier smile
The holidays will be winding down soon, and there won’t be nearly as much tempting food on the table. This is a good time to review what foods you should avoid when you’re in braces, and which ones you’re safe to indulge in. If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with us while wearing metal or clear braces, you should be steering clear of:
- any chewy or sticky foods like gummies, bagels, caramels, and gum
- any crunchy or hard foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candy
- any foods you have to bite into, like corn on the cob and raw apples or carrots
We know how frustrating food restrictions can be, but they’re an important part of the treatment process and help keep your braces safe as we straighten your teeth. The good news is, there are still lots of other delicious treats you can safely chow down on! Try to aim for foods that are good for your braces, body, and mind for the ultimate health benefits. This includes:
Milk and other dairy products
Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy land a calcium-filled punch that helps to keep your bones and teeth strong.
Whole grain breads and pastas
The complex carbohydrates that are found in whole grain products give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on. They also provide an abundance of nutrients that keep teeth and gums healthy.
Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish
These foods may be more commonly associated with protein, but they also contain phosphorus, an important mineral that helps to strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies are amazing sources of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and magnesium. All of these minerals help to improve and maintain oral health.
If you’re in Invisalign aligners instead of wearing braces, you’ll have a bit more freedom and flexibility in what you eat. You should still be vigilant about removing your aligner before every meal and snack, though. And remember that even though you don’t have the same food restrictions our braces patients do, your mouth and body will benefit from eating all the healthy, nutrient-rich foods we’ve listed here!
Keep your smile looking good on the go
Between work, school, and extracurriculars, our schedules are busier than ever these days. You may find yourself needing to brush and floss while you’re away from home sometimes, so make it easy by keeping a small bag stocked with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re a braces patient, add some dental wax to your kit, too. This will provide you with a quick fix in case of an on-the-go emergency.
Greet the new year with your best smile and Westfall Orthodontics
At Westfall Orthodontics, we’re passionate about giving patients of all ages a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. We’d love to see you kick off the new year by following these tips for keeping your smile healthy and happy in 2020! If you’re Abingdon, Richlands, Bristol, or the surrounding areas and want torthodontio learn more about the orthodontic care we offer, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Westfall. Let 2020 be the year you discover your best smile!