Plenty of people aren’t into New Year’s resolutions, but it’s hard to deny the excitement that accompanies a brand new year! It’s the perfect time to take a closer look at our habits, getting rid of the bad ones and working to improve the ones that help us be the best versions of ourselves we can be. While we hear a lot about weight loss, gym memberships, and tips for saving money, there’s another topic that doesn’t come up too often in January: your smile!
Here at Buttram Orthodontics, we’re invested in your oral health and your overall health. You may not know it, but the two can actually go hand in hand, and that’s why it’s so important to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean. We want to help you keep your smile looking and feeling amazing this year, so take a look at these simple tips that will give your smile some extra sparkle in 2019!
Go back over the basics
From a very early age, we’re encouraged to brush and floss regularly. There’s a good reason for that – having an oral hygiene routine you stick to really is the best thing you can do to keep your smile healthy and your mouth fully functioning. In order to remove the bacterial plaque that can cause cavities and tooth decay, there are some basic rules you should be following. These include:
- brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, moving the toothbrush across all surfaces of 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’ve had a cold or any other illness
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes if needed, or for when you just need an extra boost
While these are good habits for each of us to adopt, they’re even more important if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, especially for patients in braces. There are many nooks and crannies caused by the spaces between brackets, gums, wires, and teeth that need to be carefully cleaned. Anyone who’s worn braces can tell you how tricky that can be sometimes!
If you haven’t already tried them, tools like interdental brushes and oral irrigators can make this a much simpler process. The brushes are able to fit easily into hard to reach spots, removing any plaque and food debris you might have missed, while oral irrigators use a high-pressure, targeted stream of water to clean the teeth more efficiently.
Add some oomph to your dental hygiene habits by:
- replacing your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear, or after you’ve had a cold or other illness
- brushing around every part of your braces if you wear them, as well as the surface of every tooth
- flossing every night before you go to bed, taking advantage of tools like floss threaders and waterpiks if you’re having trouble getting into tighter spaces
If you’re working towards a straighter smile using a clear aligner system like Invisalign, be sure to remove your aligner every time you eat or drink anything other than water. You should also be cleaning your aligner regularly, and changing it out on the schedule given to you by Dr. Buttram.
Healthy food, healthy mouth
We just got rid of all the Christmas cookies and cakes, but there’s already Valentine’s candy lining up on the supermarket shelves. This is a great reminder of the important role food plays in keeping your teeth healthy. It’s also worth reviewing the items you should be avoiding if you’re in braces, including:
- Chewy foods like fruit snacks and bagels
- Crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candy
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and certain types of candy
We know that food restrictions can be frustrating. But remember they’re only temporary, and it will all be worth it once your braces come off and you see your new smile! Plus, there are still so many foods you can indulge in that are good for your mind, body, and your mouth, too.
Take a look at milk and other dairy products. These are full of calcium, which helps keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy. Whole grain breads and pastas are full of complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow on. Tender chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that helps strengthen and protect tooth enamel. And you’ve got a rainbow of fresh fruit and veggies to choose from, which give you everything from vitamins A and C to beta carotene and magnesium, minerals that play a crucial role in maintaining oral health.
If you want to give your smile the best chance to shine this year, consider cutting back on your consumption of sugar and soft drinks! Because sugar is a carbohydrate, it feeds the bacteria on your teeth, encouraging them to produce the acids that cause tooth decay. Soft drinks contain sugar and acid, which can wear away at the enamel on your teeth. If you wear braces, this combination can also cause unsightly decalcification if plaque is allowed to collect around the brackets.
Care for your smile on the go
We recommend brushing and flossing after every meal, but we know how busy today’s families are, and that sometimes you may have trouble caring for your smile when you’re away from home. Make it easier by keeping the travel kit we gave you with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re a braces patient, add a bit of orthodontic wax to your kit, too. This will give you a quick fix in case you experience any minor emergencies, or if you just need to freshen your mouth while you’re out and about.
Build your best smile in 2019 with Buttram Orthodontics
Following the simple tips we’ve listed above will help you get your smile off to the very best start this year, but if you need a little extra help or encouragement, our team is here to help! We have a vision for 2019 that includes healthy habits, lasting positive change, and beautifully aligned smiles in Panama City and the surrounding communities. We’re excited to share that with patients like you!