One of the most important things you can do during braces or Invisalign treatment is keep your smile healthy. After all, teeth move most efficiently in a healthy oral environment and getting cavities or having other issues could potentially stall your progress. While our offices are open again and we’re seeing patients in person, we also understand that some people may still need to stay home for the time being, which makes caring for your teeth and gums even more important! To help, our Bellaire and West Houston orthodontists are sharing some top tips to keep your smile in shape.
- Brush Your Teeth Twice Daily or More if You’re in Orthodontic Treatment – Under normal circumstances, you should brush your teeth for a full two minutes in the morning and before bed. If you’re in orthodontic treatment, brush in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before turning in at night. Braces wearers will want to brush their teeth for three minutes each time. With Invisalign, you can stick with two minutes but you’ll want to brush after meals and snacks too since your aligners can trap food and liquid against your teeth, which could cause tooth decay. After having a beverage, you can rinse your mouth out before putting your aligners back in.
Brush using circular motions along the gum line and brush every surface of your teeth, including those back molars. It’s a good idea to give each individual tooth some attention. If you have braces, you can also use a proxy brush to get around your brackets and wires.
- Floss Once Daily – If you don’t floss, you’re missing significant tooth surfaces. Flossing gets rid of pieces of food and plaque between your teeth and around your gumline. It’s really key to healthy teeth and gums. Floss once a day. If you have braces, use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser to help make things easier.
We’re sometimes asked if a Waterpik for braces is safe and it is. While using a Waterpik isn’t a substitute for flossing, it can be a great addition to your oral hygiene routine for both braces and Invisalign wearers since it helps get your mouth even more squeaky clean.
- Visit Your General Dentist Regularly For Cleanings and Exams – When it comes to how to have healthy teeth, this is one of the most important things you can do. Even if you’re in orthodontic treatment, you’ll still need to see your general dentist at least every six month, or as often as they recommend. Professional dental cleanings remove hardened plaque, or calculus, that you can’t get rid of on your own with a toothbrush and floss. This helps promote healthy gums. Additionally, at your exam, your dentist can look for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, wear of the enamel and even oral cancer. By catching issues early on, they can address them while they’re still easier and less invasive to treat.
- Eat a Balanced Diet Full of Healthy Food for Teeth – A balanced diet full of fresh vegetables and fruit, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and whole grains is important for promoting healthy teeth and gums. While sticking with healthy foods that aren’t overly processed will go a long way in keeping your smile in shape, you can also try to include some healthy food for teeth that have smile-friendly benefits. For example, low-fat yogurt has probiotics that encourage good bacteria to flourish in your mouth and the calcium and other nutrients help strengthen teeth.
- Limit Sugary Drinks and Treats – The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches and produce acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, which can ultimately lead to tooth decay. So, try to limit sugary drinks and treats, as well as starchy foods and enjoy them on special occasions. When you do have them, drink or eat them in one sitting, preferably with a meal. This is because it takes about a half hour or so for the pH in your mouth to return to normal and neutralize those plaque acids after eating. So, when you slowly sip on something sugary or leisurely enjoy a treat, you keep restarting the clock with every bite you take. As for sports drinks, they can seem like a good idea but the acidity weakens the enamel and makes it more susceptible to damage.
- Embrace Fluoride – Fluoride helps to strengthen teeth and can reduce your risk of cavities. It’s not just for kids either. Adults can benefit from using a fluoride toothpaste too. You may also want to consider adding a fluoride mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine as well.
- Visit an Orthodontist – While, of course, getting a fantastic smile is a huge benefit of orthodontic treatment, it also improves your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. As our Bellaire and Houston Invisalign and braces patients can attest, straight teeth are easier to clean, which can help ward off cavities and gum disease. When the teeth or jaws are misaligned, it can also lead to undue stress on your jaw joint, uneven wear of the teeth, difficulty chewing or speaking properly, and other issues.
While the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting an orthodontist for an evaluation by age seven, it’s never too late to improve your smile and see if orthodontic treatment could boost your oral health. At your complimentary consultation, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller, Dr. Wadler or Dr. Bloome will examine you and evaluate your diagnostic records before presenting you with personalized treatment recommendations.
- Encourage Saliva Flow – Saliva is crucial for healthy teeth and gums. The minerals found in saliva neutralize plaque acids and help promote the remineralization of teeth. Saliva also helps wash away food debris and plaque. To encourage the flow of saliva, try chewing sugar-free gums after meals, drink plenty of water and eat foods that contain a lot of water like fresh fruits and vegetables.
By using these tips for healthy teeth and gums, you’ll keep your smile in shape. If you’re ready to visit a Houston or Bellaire orthodontist, schedule an in-person or virtual consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today!