We’re two months into a brand new year, and things are finally starting to look up after a difficult 2020. While many of us have already given up on some of the resolutions we set back in January, there’s still time to commit to caring for your smile in the upcoming months! This is the perfect time to make positive changes to your dental routine, from brushing up on your oral hygiene to limiting sugary snacks.
Here at Howard Orthodontics, we’re doing our part to create healthy smiles for patients of all ages in Lancaster County. Keep reading below to learn what you can do to keep your smile in great shape throughout 2021!
Taking precautions to keep yourself safe
You may not realize it, but your oral health plays a role in your overall health, too. That means keeping yourself protected from COVID-19 and other illnesses can benefit your body and your smile!
There are many simple precautions you can take to avoid passing germs back and forth. One of the most common recommendations from experts is to wear a good-quality mask any time you’re in public or around people who don’t live with you. Social distancing is also important. Aim 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.
Washing your hands regularly is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself healthy. To keep germs at bay, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds any time you’ve been out in public. Do the same after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.
If you don’t have access to soap and water for any reason, you can use hand sanitizer in a pinch, but make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol. Another expert tip: keep your hands away from your face and mouth, even if they’re clean. This can be a tough habit to break, but the less chance we give germs to spread, the better off we’ll be.
Take your oral hygiene to the next level
We should all be taking good care of our teeth and gums to ensure our smiles stay healthy, but this is even more important for orthodontic patients! If you wear braces, you probably already know that learning how to maneuver around the brackets and wires can take some practice. To keep your appliance and your teeth looking their best, stick to these simple guidelines.
- Brush around every part of your braces and every surface of your teeth.
- Brush until your braces are clean and shiny—fuzzy or dull brackets can indicate poor brushing habits.
- Floss every night before bed.
- Take advantage of floss threaders and water piks to help keep those hard-to-reach areas free from bacteria.
Whether you’re in braces or using clear aligners, there are a few basic tips you should always follow to successfully remove plaque and keep your smile squeaky clean.
- Brush at least 3-4 times each a day, after every meal and once before bed.
- Use a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
- Brush gently at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line, moving the toothbrush across each tooth to remove any trapped food particles.
- Floss at least once per day.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness.
- Consider using an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to further improve your oral health.
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine will keep your teeth and gums healthy, reduce the risk for tooth decay and gum disease, and freshen your breath, too.
Cut back on sugary snacks and sodas
Your teeth are more susceptible to cavities while you’re in braces, so it’s important to maintain a nutritious diet throughout treatment. One of the best things you can do for your smile this year is cut back on sugar and soft drink! Sugar is a carbohydrate, and it’s carbs that fuel the bacteria on your teeth to produce acids. These acids are responsible for the formation of tooth decay. This is bad news for anybody’s mouth, but when you add in brackets, wires, and bands, you’re giving bacteria plenty of places to hide and multiply in.
Soft drinks can affect braces and aligners alike, thanks to the sugar and acid they contain. This increases the risk to your tooth enamel and can cause decalcification markings if soda is allowed to sit around the brackets of your braces. If you’re in aligners, you’re not off the hook! Small amounts of liquid can seep into aligners when you take a drink; the liquid is then held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. When the liquid contains acid, as soda does, prolonged exposure can accelerate damage to the teeth.
Another simple way to keep your mouth healthy is to up your water intake! Saliva exists in part to keep your mouth clean, and drinking water regularly encourages saliva production. It also helps flush pieces of food from your braces. Try to keep soda and fruit juices to a minimum and opt for bottles of water instead.
Stick to your scheduled appointments
In 2020, we had to deal with rescheduled appointments and temporary closings. We’re hoping that things will be back on track throughout 2021! You can do your part by prioritizing your follow-up visits. These are an essential part of any orthodontic journey and tend to be scheduled for every 6-8 weeks in our Willow Street office. These appointments allow Dr. Howard to ensure things are progressing according to your treatment plan and are often fairly brief. We value your time and will always work with your schedule to get you in when it’s most convenient for you and your family.
Give your smile the care it deserves with the help of Howard Orthodontics
As challenging as 2020 was, we’re proud of you for making it through with a smile on your face. Howard Orthodontics is looking forward to working with you in 2021 to help you achieve straighter teeth and a healthier mouth! Whether you’re a current patient or looking to improve your oral health in the months ahead, our talented team has got you covered. Get in touch with any questions or concerns, or click here to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Howard.