Caring For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

Temporary closings and stay-at-home orders have meant that we’ve been unable to see our patients at Dillehay Orthodontics as much as we’d like. Like many of our patients, you may be wondering if there’s anything special you should do to be caring for your smile between your regular orthodontic visits. Let’s explore how you can keep your teeth and oral appliances in great shape, especially when you have to wait longer than normal to see us! Keep reading below for more information. 

Keep up with your dental hygiene

Of course, 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 complications in your treatment and can negatively impact the final results. 

Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some basics of dental hygiene that you should always follow! These guidelines will help you maintain a healthy mouth and keep your treatment plan on track: 

  • Brush at least three times a day, ideally after each meal and 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.

If you’re wearing 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 your Invisalign before putting them back in your mouth, and remember to clean them well with soap and water at least twice a day. Note that toothpaste can damage your aligners due to its abrasive nature; if you notice any build-up, you can simply soak your aligners in an oral apparatus cleaning fluid to remove it. Never clean them with or soak them in overly hot water, and keep them away from heat sources so they retain their shape. 

Follow your orthodontist’s advice!

If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, ensure that you wear them exactly as directed. If you’ve recently completed treatment, 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 you run out of aligners before your next scheduled appointment, we can arrange curbside pick-up for the next set. Dr. J. K. and Dr. Ken are also available for video or telephone appointments if you have any questions or concerns. Socially-distanced options like these mean that all of our patients can continue their treatments 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. However, you should only wear them 10-12 hours each day instead of the usual 20-22 hours. This shortened wear duration will help extend the life of your aligners until an appointment is available. This way you can keep your treatment plan on track and ensure that you don’t lose any hard-earned progress! 

Limit your sugar intake

Cavities can negatively affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since most orthodontic procedures tend to exacerbate the risk of cavities. To combat this, try and avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as you can. Snacks that are high in starch or sugar encourage plaque growth, which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. 

Sugar is also a carbohydrate, and carbs fuel the acidic compounds that create cavities. 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 care kit for your braces

We recommend that all of our patients with braces 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, so you can use the eraser end to push stray brace wires back into place

Throw these items 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 perform unexpected care or you end up having to wait longer than expected for your next appointment due to COVID-19

Caring For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

Your smile is a team effort at Dillehay Orthodontics

Even when you’re not physically in our office, we are on your side! We want nothing but the best for our patients, and hope that this guide provided some guidance to help you care for your smile between orthodontic visits. Our expert team is always here for you, and we’re always happy to answer your questions or address any concerns you have about your treatment plan. 

For more ways to be proactive with the orthodontic process, get in touch to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. J.K and Dr. Ken Dillehay!