An awful lot has happened over the last year, so you could be forgiven for not setting any resolutions once the new year rolled around. Now that we’re almost a month into 2021, things seem to be looking up a little at last! With that in mind, we think it’s the perfect time to talk about the important role your oral health plays in your overall health. If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it’s to never take our health for granted. Now more than ever, we should all be taking extra precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy. Let’s take a look at some of the small ways you can achieve flawless orthodontic care in 2021 and months to come!
Simple safety precautions
There are many steps you can take to keep yourself and those around you protected from COVID-19 and other illnesses. One of the most important expert recommendations is to wear a mask over your mouth and nose any time you’re out in public or around people who don’t live with you.
As useful as masks are, keep in mind that they aren’t a substitute for social distancing. You should continue to avoid indoor spaces as often as you can, especially those that are crowded or poorly ventilated. When you do have to be out and about, try to keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others whenever possible.
Last but not least, take it back to the basics by washing your hands often! Aim to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds whenever you blow your nose, cough, sneeze, or use the restroom. Do the same any time you’ve been in public. If soap and water aren’t readily available, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol in a pinch. We know it can be a hard habit to break, but try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you’re out in public. This will give germs less of a chance to multiply and spread, something that benefits all of us!
Handle oral care like a pro
Whether you’re working from home, supervising virtual school, or still making the same commute to the office, our days are still full and it’s tempting to get lazy with our oral hygiene when we’re tired. All of us need to take care of our teeth and gums, but it’s even more important if you’re an orthodontic patient. If you’re already wearing braces, you know that it can take some skillful maneuvering to get around the brackets and wires. For the best results, you should always:
- use fluoride toothpaste with a soft toothbrush
- replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear
- brush around every part of your braces and every surface of your teeth
- brush until your brackets are clean and shiny
- floss every night before you go to bed
- use tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas
Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some dental hygiene basics you should always stick to. Doing so will keep your mouth squeaky clean and free of plaque! These basics include
- brushing at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- brushing 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
- flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
- replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health
Daily brushing and flossing will not only help prevent tooth decay and gum disease but keep your breath fresh as well. (That may not matter during Zoom meetings, but it’s good practice for when we’re all allowed to gather again!)
Swap sugar and soda for water
Striving for a diet that’s varied and nutritious is always a good idea, but it’s especially important during the treatment process. Your teeth are more susceptible to cavities when you’re wearing braces, so cutting back on things like sugar and soda is one of the smartest things you can do for your smile!
Sugar is a carbohydrate, and it’s carbs that give the bacteria on your teeth fuel for acids to develop. These acids are what cause tooth decay and cavities to form. This is bad enough on teeth without braces, but add in brackets and wires and you’ve got multiple places where that bacteria can hide and multiply.
Another simple way to keep your mouth in super shape is to increase your daily water intake. Saliva plays an important part in keeping your mouth clean, and drinking water frequently helps encourage saliva production. It also helps flush food particles out of your braces and from in between your teeth.
Keep your scheduled appointments
Last year was full of temporary closings, rescheduled appointments, and a lot of uncertainty in general. We’re hopeful that 2021 will see us getting everything back on track, including regular check-ups to ensure your treatment is progressing as it should be! No matter what treatment you’re using to straighten your smile, these check-ups are an important part of the process. They help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time, so it’s important that you don’t skip them!
While you’re going through the treatment process with us, make sure to check in with your regular dentist, too! Routine visits to the dentist throughout the year can help prevent oral disease and may catch an existing issue in the early stages. Plan to see your dentist every six months, so your oral health can be closely monitored. This will allow us to develop a combined treatment plan with your dentist if necessary.
Look to the future with a smile from Timock Family Orthodontics
2020 came with its fair share of challenges and we’re proud of you for making it through with your smile intact! We’re looking forward to everything 2021 has to offer, and are excited to have you be a part of it with us. If you need a little help or encouragement to keep you going through your orthodontic journey, remember we’re here for you! Take care, stay safe out there, and keep smiling!