We’re a few months into the new year, and things are already looking up after a difficult 2020. In keeping with that general trend of optimism and improvement, now is a great time to commit to caring for your smile! Making positive changes to your dental routine, from brushing up on your oral hygiene to limiting sugary snacks, will improve your health, your mood, and your appearance, meaning you’ll be able to approach this year at your best.

Here at Sawgrass Orthodontics, we’re doing our part to create healthy smiles for patients of all ages in Broward County. Keep reading below to learn what you can do to keep your smile in great shape throughout 2021!

Take precautions to keep yourself safe

Your oral health is very closely related to your overall health. Not only are your mouth and throat your first line of defense against disease, but they can be seriously impacted by most viral and bacterial infections. This means that 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 CDC-approved mask any time you’re in public or around people who don’t live with you. Maintaining social distance is also important—try to keep at least six 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 another easy way 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, especially places where you touch a lot of surfaces like the grocery store. Do the same after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose. 

If you don’t have access to soap and water, 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, eyes, and mouth, even if you just washed them. This can be a tough habit to break, but the fewer chances we give germs to spread, the better off we’ll be.

Take your oral hygiene to the next level

Of course, we should all be taking good care of our teeth and gums all the time, but this is even more important for orthodontic patients! If you wear braces, you probably already know that maneuvering your brush and floss around the brackets and wires can take some practice. To keep your appliance and your teeth as clean as possible, stick to these simple guidelines: 

  • Brush every surface of your teeth and around every part of your braces.
  • Brush until your braces are clean and shiny (hint: fuzzy or dull brackets can indicate poor brushing habits).
  • Floss every night before bed. 
  • Use 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 shining and clean:  

  • Brush at least 3-4 times each a day, ideally after every meal and once before bed. 
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush gently at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line, moving the toothbrush across and around each tooth to remove 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 down on sugary snacks and sodas

Your teeth are more susceptible to cavities while you’re in braces, so it’s important to maintain a diet that limits cavity development throughout treatment. One of the best things you can do for your smile this year is cut back on sugar and soft drinks! Sugar is a carbohydrate, a type of biomolecule that helps the bacteria on your teeth to produce acids. These acids corrode your enamel and teeth, producing all sorts of tooth decay. This is bad news for anybody’s mouth, but when you add in brackets, wires, and bands, you’re giving bacteria and their acid plenty of places to hide, multiply, and damage.

Soft drinks can hurt braces and aligners alike. Thanks to the sugar and acid they contain, they threaten your tooth enamel and can cause decalcification if soda is allowed to linger around the brackets of your braces. However, if you’re in aligners, you’re not off the hook! Small amounts of liquid can seep into aligners when you take a sip of soda; 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. Water also helps flush pieces of food out of your braces. Try to keep soda and fruit juices to a minimum and opt for a reusable water bottle instead. 

Stick to your scheduled appointments

In 2020, we had the uncertainties that rescheduled appointments and temporary closings bring with them. 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 Sunrise office. These appointments allow Dr. Kristen and Dr. Penny 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 Sawgrass Orthodontics

As challenging as 2020 was, we’re proud of you for making it through with a smile on your face. Sawgrass 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. Kristen and Dr. Penny. 

- Dr. Langford

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