How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

COVID-19 has presented all of us with many challenges over the last year. Here at Kottemann Orthodontics, temporary closings and stay-at-home orders have meant rescheduling appointments and not seeing patients as often as we normally would. If you’re a current patient, you may be wondering if there’s anything special you should be doing in between regular visits to care for your smile. Let’s explore how you can keep your teeth and appliance in great shape, especially when you have to wait longer to see us! Keep reading below for more information.

Practice excellent dental hygiene

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is always important, but it’s an essential part of your treatment plan, too. Tooth decay and gum disease may lead to longer treatment times, and can even affect the final results. Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some dental hygiene basics you should always aspire to! Follow these guidelines for squeaky clean teeth, a healthy mouth, and fresh breath.

  • Brush at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush 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 fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health.

If you’re wearing braces, you already know that it can take some skillful maneuvering to clean around the brackets and wires. For the 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’re an Invisalign patient, you should be following the same basic guidelines for dental hygiene, but you need to take care of 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 a retainer or denture cleaner to remove it. Never clean them with or soak them in hot water and keep them away from heat sources in general so they retain their shape.

How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic VisitsFollow our guidelines 

If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, take care to wear them exactly as directed. If you’ve completed treatment recently, continue to wear your retainer as directed by your doctor. 

Invisalign patients will normally be provided with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time, but if your current set runs out before the next scheduled appointment, we can arrange curbside pick-up for the next set. Our doctors are also available for video appointments if you have any questions or concerns. Socially-distanced options like these mean every patient can continue their treatment safely, conveniently, and without delay. 

If we’re unable to provide you a new set of aligners right away, you can continue wearing the last set you were given. Instead of keeping them in the normal 20-22 hours, you should only wear them for 10-12 hours each day. This will help extend the life of your aligners until an appointment is available. It also keeps your treatment plan on track and ensures you don’t lose any important progress! 

Limit your sugar intake

Cavities can affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since your teeth are more susceptible to cavities during braces treatment. To combat this, try and avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Snacks that are high in starch or sugar can increase plaque growth, which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. 

Sugar is also a carbohydrate, and carbs fuel the acids 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 helps flush food particles out of your braces and from in between your teeth. 

Make a care kit for your braces

We recommend that all of our braces patients stay prepared for any temporary difficulties 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 due to braces
  • a small cup for rinsing with water, which helps dislodge any trapped food particles
  • an unsharpened pencil, as you can use the eraser end to push stray wires back into place

Throw these in 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 wait longer than expected for your next appointment. 

How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic VisitsYour smile is a team effort at Kottemann Orthodontics

Even when you aren’t in our office, we’re on your side! Our expert team is here for you, and we’re always happy to answer your questions or address any concerns you have about your treatment plan. 

We’re also pleased to offer video calls for any patients who feel uncomfortable visiting our office in person at this time. While we prefer to see patients in the office, we realize that living through a pandemic requires flexibility! Virtual appointments allow us to provide you with personalized care from the comfort of your own home. 

For more ways to be proactive with the orthodontic process, click here or get in touch to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.