It’s the beginning of a brand new year here at Saddle Creek Orthodontics and there’s no better time to reset your habits! Even if you’re not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, there’s something about flipping over the first page of a calendar that can inspire deep reflection and positive action. After all the excess of Christmas and the holidays, there’s a simple excitement to a fresh start, and capitalizing on that can make for lasting change! Commonly, these changes are focused on things like saving money, losing weight, or eating healthier, but since we’re all about teeth, we’ve put together a collection of tips and tricks to help you keep your smile in shape in 2018!
Brush and floss regularly
This is a pretty obvious one, and something you’ve likely been told since your very first baby teeth came in, but it really is the most important thing you can do to keep your mouth healthy. We recommend you brush your teeth thoroughly two to three times each day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, aiming for at least two minutes each time.
If you’re one of our braces patients, you should pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums, carefully cleaning between the wires and your teeth. Interdental brushes can easily fit in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris, making them an excellent option for cleaning. Flossing should be done at least once per day, especially when you’re wearing braces, since it’s easy for food particles to get stuck in the tiny crevices around the brackets.
Abide by the basics of brushing
For a sparkling clean smile, there are some basic brushing guidelines you should always follow, such as:
- Brushing all your teeth, every time you brush
- Keeping your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line
- Brushing from the base of the teeth back up to the chewing surface
- Using short, round strokes for the front and the back of your teeth
- Using short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces
- Consistently brushing across each tooth, giving equal time to all teeth
- Brushing the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front
- Want more info? Check out our page on Caring for Braces.
Take advantage of the tools available
Braces can sometimes make careful flossing tricky, but floss threaders are a great alternative that are designed to help make it easier. This tool threads a little bit like a needle, and works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the wire. This lets you grab the floss on each end, and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a thorough job. If that sounds complicated, I promise it isn’t. Let us know the next time you are in the office, and we’ll be happy to show you how it’s done!
Waterpiks and other oral irrigators are another tool that can be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing. These instruments are able to shoot small, high-pressure streams of water onto the teeth, removing any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces.
[Interested in learning more about Waterpiks? Here’s a blog I wrote on the topic: Do Braces Cause White Spots?]
Let good foods be your friend
Now that the temptation of holiday treats has passed, it’s a good time to review the foods you should avoid while in braces versus all the foods you can embrace! If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with SCO using traditional metal braces, you should steer clear of things like:
- Chewy foods like licorice and bagels
- Hard, crunchy foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candies
- Sticky foods like caramels, chewing gum, and gummy candies
- Foods you have to bite into, such as corn on the cob, raw apples, and carrots
We know that that list can sometimes feel restrictive, but there’s so much out there you can still eat, and there’s so much food that’s good for your mind, body, and mouth.
(If you’re using a clear aligner system to straighten your teeth instead of braces, be sure you’re removing your aligner before every meal and snack. You might not have the same restrictions someone in braces does, but you will still benefit from eating healthy, nutrient-rich food, so don’t skip over this part of the list!)
- Milk and other dairy products are not only delicious, but pack a calcium-filled punch to help keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy.
- Whole grain breads and pastas have complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and also offer lots of nutrients to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Chicken, tender red meat, and fatty fish come locked and loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that strengthens and protects tooth enamel.
- We know that eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body, but they’re wonderful for your teeth, too. Leafy greens contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are instrumental in maintaining oral health.
[Looking for more info on foods you can eat with braces? Read more here.]
Care for your mouth on the go with a portable cleaning kit
Stock a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss to maintain your sparkling smile when you’re on the go. We recommended brushing and flossing after every meal, particularly if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Are you in braces? Add dental wax to your kit so you’ve got a quick fix in case of an emergency!
There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of in order to keep your braces functioning perfectly. Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces, so do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Start the year off right with Saddle Creek Orthodontics
Whether you’re a past, present, or future patient, we encourage you to start this year off right by following our tips for keeping your mouth healthy and your smile happy. If you’re in Germantown, Collierville, Midtown Memphis or the surrounding areas, and are interested in learning about how orthodontic treatment could benefit you, get in touch with us today at 901.726.3878 to schedule a complimentary consultation or fill out a short appointment request form. Let 2018 be the year you show off your smile!