December 17, 2021
A good smile is the most impactful personal investment we can make. With it being the first feature people notice and remember, it is clearly an important aspect of identity and first impressions. Worth more than what we wear or what we say, a smile says a mouthful.
Often, cosmetic braces are the doctors’ orders to achieve this million-dollar smile, but how do we keep up oral hygiene with that necessary but obstructive hardware? Here are 5 tips to ensure your personal investment will be shining its brightest and reaping future rewards:
With braces, try to brush after each meal and snack, if possible. The less time that food and drink sit on teeth the better. We have been programmed to brush twice each day, but when braces catch food and drink between meals and let the remnants sit and fester, we have to take extra measures to clean. Packing a little bag with the brushing and flossing necessities is a must, especially for kids and teens in school to use after lunch. A small bottle of mouthwash can also go a long way when there’s no other way to brush.
Flossing has an added level of difficulty with braces, but a floss threader can help. You can also ask your dentist about recommending a water-powered dental flosser, which is an electric device that sprays water and cleans hard-to-reach places between teeth and braces. Regardless of which tools you choose, flossing every day is as important as brushing in keeping the gums and teeth healthy.
Generally, avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible, but more specifically, foods that are chewy or sticky. Not only can these foods damage the rubber bands, wires, and brackets, but they also make it difficult for the brush to reach deep into the crevices where these foods can stick. Furthermore, some substances can stain teeth, such as coffee, yellow dye in soda drinks, and use of tobacco products. No one wants to invest in braces only to have spotted teeth be the reward, so be mindful of what you consume.
Replacing your toothbrush or brush head every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles are worn out and matted, is recommended by the CDC. Braces will wear these brushes out even sooner, so be prepared to change out your toothbrush more frequently. A worn toothbrush cannot reach as many places between teeth and gums- add a layer of hardware, and that is even more difficult to clean, so keep your brush in topnotch shape.
With all of the orthodontist appointments, a regular dental check-up can get lost in the mix. Remember to schedule your semi-annual check-ups regularly to stay on top of any problems and nip them in the bud. Your dentist is still an invaluable investor in your smile for life.