Between work, school, extracurricular activities, and more, it can be hard to find the time to do things for yourself. The beginning of a brand new year is the perfect excuse to focus on YOU! Even if you aren’t a fan of resolutions, you can benefit from the energy and excitement each January brings, whether you want to drop a few pounds, get into shape, or improve your oral health.

If you want a sparkling smile in 2019, a good dental hygiene routine is key! Sawgrass Orthodontics is committed to helping you keep your teeth and gums looking and feeling great. To find your happiest, healthiest smile this year, follow the simple tips we’ve put together below for achieving excellent oral health and a confident smile!

Review, replace, renew

Brushing and flossing daily is the single best way to maintain a clean, healthy, and fully functioning mouth. Most of us have an oral hygiene routine in place, but it’s worth reviewing it from time to time so you can be sure you’re doing all you can to keep your smile in shape. While it may seem simple, how you brush and floss is almost as important as how often you do it, and this is the part that many people get wrong.

That’s where our advice comes in! To successfully remove the kind of bacterial plaque that can cause cavities and tooth decay, there are some basic steps you should follow to clean your teeth and gums. Try to stick to:

  • 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 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
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes as needed

We encourage everyone to take their oral health seriously, but it’s particularly important if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, especially using braces. The brackets and wires can create nooks and crannies that complicate cleaning efforts, so patients in braces must take special care to clean both their mouth and their appliance carefully. Aside from mastering the basics of brushing and flossing, we recommend the following tips to your oral hygiene habits to pack a little extra punch!

  • Replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear (or when you’ve had a cold or any other illness)
  • Brush around every part of your braces if you wear them
  • Brush the surface of every tooth
  • Floss every night before you go to bed

A note for those using clear aligner therapy

Patients who choose a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten their smile will enjoy a bit more flexibility and freedom than those in traditional braces. If you’re an Invisalign patient, you should already know that compliance is necessary for the aligners to work properly. What that means is being responsible with them, and with the treatment process, by:

  • removing them every time you eat or drink anything other than water
  • wearing them for 20-22 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment
  • changing them out on the schedule our doctors have given you

Neglecting to follow our recommendations can result in a longer treatment time and may even affect the overall success of the system.

Take advantage of the tools you have available

As we’ve mentioned above, when you wear traditional braces they can sometimes make your dental hygiene routine a little more complicated. However, there are many products on the market that are designed to make this process easier (and even more efficient!)

For instance, floss threaders can be an excellent alternative to regular dental floss. The name comes from the way it threads a bit like a needle, and it works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the archwire. This allows you to grab the floss on each end, sliding it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a very thorough flossing job. If you’d like to try this method, but aren’t sure where to start, we can give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the office. (It sounds more complicated than it actually is!)

Interdental brushes are another tool to keep teeth clean. These fit easily in between the wires and the teeth, getting rid of plaque and food debris in areas that can be otherwise hard to reach. Oral irrigators like Waterpiks have a similar effect, shooting a targeted, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth to remove any remaining food debris and plaque stuck between your teeth and braces.

You should always keep in mind that none of these products, or any like them, should be used to replace your normal brushing and flossing routine. They’re for supplemental use only!

Keep your mouth clean on the go

We recommend patients brush and floss after every meal, but we know that can sometimes be difficult if you’re on the go, especially if it’s for an extended period of time. Today’s families are busier than ever before, but you can anticipate this need ahead of time by stocking a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. Are you a braces patient? Add some orthodontic wax, too, so you’ll have a quick fix with you in case any minor emergencies pop up!

Take your smile to the next level with Sawgrass Orthodontics

At Sawgrass Orthodontics, Dr. Kristen, Dr. Penny, and the rest of our talented team are committed to giving you a beautiful smile and a rewarding orthodontic experience. We want to help you increase your oral health and your overall health, as well. Following the simple tips, we’ve listed above gives you a great way to start, but our care doesn’t stop there!  If you happen to need a little extra help or encouragement, we’re always here. We’re excited to work with you this year towards the healthy smile you want and deserve!

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