How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

Here at Howard Orthodontics, we’re all about creating beautiful smiles and building positive relationships with the families we serve throughout the Willow Street community. Our talented team has been serving up smiles in Lancaster for over 20 years with the help of our cutting-edge technology and innovative techniques, but there’s another essential part to that process—you!

That’s right! Your compliance is an important part of the orthodontic process. Following the guidelines given to you by Dr. Howard helps ensure we achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time possible. If you’ve already been a patient for a while, you’ve probably heard us talk about the risk that cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems pose to your overall progress. When you aren’t compliant, it can interrupt or delay treatment. This may mean more time in your braces or clear aligners, and in some cases, it can even affect the final results.

The good news is, it’s simple to take good care of your smile in between orthodontic visits! When you listen to Dr. Howard’s recommendations and follow the helpful tips below, you’ll keep your treatment on the right track. Keep reading to learn more! 

Brush up on the basics of good oral hygiene

This might seem really obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t brush and floss in an effective manner. This can spell trouble for anybody, but it’s especially problematic for orthodontic patients. 

If you wear braces, you’re already aware that oral hygiene takes a little more effort since you have to brush and floss around the brackets and wires. The different components make it easy for food particles to become trapped against the teeth, and if they aren’t removed, plaque and bacteria can build up. Over time, this increases your risk of developing dental issues. Try following these guidelines to get the best out of your brushing and flossing routine.  

  • Brush after every meal and snack. If you wear braces, be sure to brush around each part of them.
  • If you can’t brush right away, rinse with water to help dislodge any stray food particles.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush across every surface of every tooth to effectively remove bacteria and any debris.
  • Floss every night before bed to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day. Use tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness.
  • Use antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health.

How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

Tips for our Invisalign patients

Oral hygiene tends to be easier for Invisalign patients since the aligners are removable, you’re not entirely off the hook here! You’re responsible for maintaining your oral health as well as caring for your clear aligners. That means always washing your hands before taking the aligners out and putting them back in your mouth. You should also rinse your aligners any time you remove them and use a cleaning solution with lukewarm water at least twice a day. If you notice any build-up, you can soak your aligners in a retainer or denture cleaner to remove it. 

Extreme temperatures of any kind can cause your aligners to warp and lose their natural shape, so you’ll want to avoid very cold or very hot water when rinsing or cleaning your aligners. It’s important to keep them away from all heat sources, too, including hot cars. Any time your aligners aren’t in your mouth or soaking in solution, they should remain in an approved case. This will help keep your mouth healthy and your aligners in good shape throughout the treatment process!  

Visit your dentist for regular checkups 

In addition to your follow-up visits with Dr. Howard, you should continue to schedule regular checkups with your family dentist, too. While you’re under our care throughout the treatment process, your dentist is still considered your primary oral health physician during this time. They’ll work with us to help you maintain a healthy smile and can also identify any possible issues with your dental health. A routine checkup with your dentist will normally include a professional cleaning and a thorough exam of your mouth. We encourage all our patients to see their dentist once every six months to ensure healthy teeth and gums! 

Create a “care kit” for ortho care on the go

Orthodontic issues can occur from time to time, but it can be frustrating if you have to deal with them while you’re on the go. Stay prepared for any situation by creating a “care kit” to keep with you when you’re out and about. Consider packing it with essential items like:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • a small tube of fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss or ortho picks
  • orthodontic wax if you wear braces
  • extra rubber bands
  • lip balm
  • a small cup for rinsing with water
  • an unsharpened pencil (the eraser end can be used to push stray wires back into place)

Throw these products together in a portable bag and store it in your purse or backpack so you’ll have anything you need if a problem pops up between appointments. Keep in mind, however, that you should get in touch with us as soon as possible if you encounter an actual orthodontic emergency. Dr. Howard will be able to assess the situation and let you know what steps you need to take next. 

How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

Find your healthiest smile with Howard Orthodontics

Good oral health is important for everybody, but it’s an even bigger deal for anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment. By following the guidelines and tips we’ve listed above, you’ll keep your mouth healthy, your treatment plan on track, and help us achieve exceptional results!

Do you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic care? Would you like to learn more about how to proactively care for your smile? Get in touch with us today to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment with Dr. Howard and the rest of our expert team!