December 28, 2018
Not everybody is into New Year’s resolutions, but this is still the perfect time to take advantage of the excitement that comes with beginning a brand new year! While many people are focusing on weight loss, getting to the gym, or saving up for a big vacation, we want to talk about a topic you don’t hear too often in January: your smile.
Did you know that your oral health and your overall health go hand in hand? That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean. Here at Central Virginia Orthodontics, we want to help you keep your smile looking and feeling fantastic this year, so we’ve put together a few tips to give it a little extra sparkle in 2019!
Mastering the basics
From the time we can hold a toothbrush, we’re told over and over again how important it is to brush and floss regularly (even if we weren’t always vigilant about it.) There’s a good reason for that! A good oral hygiene routine really is the best – and easiest – way to keep your mouth healthy, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t sure how to brush or floss properly. In order to remove the bacterial plaque that can cause cavities and tooth decay, there are a few basic rules you should always follow.
- Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, moving the toothbrush across all surfaces of 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’ve had a cold or any other illness
- Use antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes if needed, or whenever you need a boost!
While these are good habits for all of us to adapt, they’re even more important for anybody undergoing orthodontic treatment. This is especially true for patients in braces, thanks to all the nooks and crannies caused by the spaces between brackets, gums, wires, and teeth that can make it tricky to clean effectively. If you haven’t already tried them, tools like interdental brushes and oral irrigators can make this a much simpler process. The brushes fit into those hard to reach spots, removing any missed plaque and food debris, while oral irrigators use a high-pressure, targeted stream of water to puts some power into your routine.
To add even more oomph to your dental hygiene habits, try:
- replacing your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear, or after you’ve had a cold or other illness
- brushing around every part of your braces if you wear them
- brushing the surface of every tooth
- flossing every night before you go to bed, using tools like a floss threader or waterpik if you’re having trouble reaching the tighter spaces
If you’re straightening your smile with a clear aligner system like Invisalign rather than traditional braces, be sure to remove your aligner every time you eat or drink anything other than water. You should also be wearing aligners 20-22 hours per day and changing them out on the schedule given to you by our doctors. This is an essential part of the process, and you won’t get the results you desire if you don’t stick to the treatment plan.
Get a healthier mouth by eating healthier food
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and candy already lining up on the supermarket shelves, it’s a great time to review the important role food plays in keeping your teeth healthy, and the items you should be avoiding if you’re in braces. Give the following foods a miss until your treatment is complete.
- Chewy foods like fruit snacks and bagels
- Crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candy
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and certain types of candy
Food restrictions can be frustrating, and are often one of the biggest learning curves that come with braces. But remember – they’re only temporary! All your hard work will be more than worth it when your braces come off and we reveal your beautiful new smile. Plus, there are still so many foods out there you can indulge in that are good for your mind, body, and your mouth, too.
For example, milk and other dairy products are full of calcium, which helps your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy. Eating whole grain bread and pastas gives you complex carbohydrates that provide bacteria with less digestible food to grow on. Tender chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon are chock full of phosphorus, which is an important mineral that strengthens and protects your tooth enamel. Add in a rainbow of fresh fruit and veggies, and you’ll have everything from vitamins A and C to beta carotene and magnesium covered. These minerals play a crucial role in maintaining oral health.
Want a smile that stands out this year? Consider cutting back on your consumption of sugar and soft drinks. Because sugar is a carbohydrate, it feeds the bacteria on your teeth, encouraging them to produce the acids that cause tooth decay. Soft drinks contain both sugar and acid, which can wear away at the enamel on your teeth. If you are a braces patient, this combination can also cause unsightly decalcification if you allow plaque to collect around the brackets.
Create your best smile ever with Central Virginia Orthodontics
Following the easy tips, we’ve listed above will help you get your smile off to a great start this year, but if you need a little extra help or encouragement, we’re here to help! We want 2019 to be full of healthy habits, lasting positive change, and beautifully aligned smiles in Central Virginia and beyond. We’re excited to share that vision with patients like you!