As the feature most people notice first about you, your smile plays a big role in how others perceive you. But did you know your oral health is also an important part of your total body health? Making lasting, positive changes to your dental hygiene routine can set you up for better health overall in 2021. Here at Sturgill Orthodontics, we encourage our patients to be mindful of their daily oral habits for optimal results. Keep reading below to learn what you can do to keep your smile looking and feeling its best with orthodontic care in 2021!
Master the basics of brushing
It’s important for all of us to keep our teeth and gums healthy and clean, but it’s essential for orthodontic patients. Those wearing braces are especially susceptible to cavities during treatment, but a good brushing and flossing routine will help eliminate the germs and plaque that accumulate on the teeth throughout the day! We recommend brushing at least twice a day, but ideally, you should be brushing after every meal and snack.
The way you brush and floss is just as important as how often you do it. If you wear braces, clean carefully around the wires and in the areas between the brackets and gums, as these are great places for bacteria to hide and multiply! If you’re having trouble cleaning these spots effectively, interdental brushes and ortho-picks can make this easier and more efficient.
Don’t forget to floss! Flossing not only removes debris from in between your teeth, but also stimulates your gums, reduces plaque, and helps to lower inflammation in the gum area. Flossing every night before bed is usually enough to reap all of these benefits! Here are a few other simple tips for getting the most out of your dental hygiene routine.
- Brush every tooth with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- 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 your toothbrush every few months, or after any illness.
- Floss every night before bed.
- Use tools like interdental brushes, water flossers, and ortho-picks if needed.
Consume less sugar, drink more water
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet throughout the treatment process, and cutting back on sugary drinks and snacks is an easy way to improve your smile! Sugar is a carbohydrate that is converted into acid in your mouth, and these acids are behind cavities and tooth decay developing. They can also erode the enamel of your teeth. You don’t have to avoid these foods completely, but it pays to be mindful about what you’re eating and drinking.
Soft drinks are a perfect example of this, as they can affect patients in braces and aligners. Soda contains both sugar and acid, which can double the risk to your tooth enamel and may even cause unsightly decalcification if plaque around the brackets isn’t removed. Small amounts of liquid can also seep into aligners when you take a drink, where the liquid is held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. If the liquid contains acid, like soft drinks do, the prolonged exposure can accelerate damage to teeth.
Water is the best beverage for your oral and overall health! We recommend drinking it with or after every meal to help wash out pesky food particles and rinse your mouth. Upping your water intake will also give your smile a boost—saliva keeps your mouth clean and drinking water regularly encourages saliva production!
Stick to your appointment schedule (and see your dentist regularly)
2020 was the year of temporary closings and rescheduled appointments, but we’re hoping things will be back on track in 2021! You can do your part by prioritizing the follow-up visits we schedule for you with our doctors. These essential appointments are usually scheduled every 6-10 weeks so we can ensure things are progressing according to your treatment plan. They tend to be fairly brief, so you can get back to your day as soon as possible! We’ll always work with you to fit these visits in when it’s most convenient for you and your family.
Your own everyday habits are essential for good oral health, but so are regular dental visits. You should plan to see your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups, especially while you’re in braces or aligners! This will help keep your teeth and gums in good shape, and they’ll also be able to pick up on any potential issues that may need to be treated.
Take extra precautions to keep yourself safe
Since your oral health is connected to your overall health, keeping yourself protected from illnesses like COVID-19 and other viruses will help benefit your whole body, including your smile! There are several precautions you can take to avoid catching or spreading all types of sickness.
One of the most common recommendations from experts is to wear a mask any time you’re in public or around people who don’t live with you to help prevent the spread of germs. Social distancing still matters, however, even when you’re wearing a mask. Try to keep at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others whenever possible, and avoid indoor spaces if you can (especially if they’re crowded or poorly ventilated.)
The simplest way to keep yourself healthy is to wash your hands regularly. Any time you’ve been out in public, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do the same when you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze. If you don’t have access to soap and water for any reason, you can use hand sanitizer, just be sure it contains at least 60% alcohol. And don’t forget to keep your hands away from your face and your mouth! This can be a hard habit to break, but the less chance we give germs to spread, the better off we’ll all be.
Give your some smile some extra TLC with Sturgill Orthodontics
The last year has been challenging many ways, and we’re proud of you for keeping a smile on your face through it all! We’re looking forward to working with you in the months ahead to help you achieve a straighter, healthier smile. Whether you’re a current patient or considering treatment with us, our talented team is here to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Get in touch today to talk with us or schedule your FREE consultation!