October is both National Orthodontic Health Month and National Dental Hygiene Month! Dental hygiene refers to the ways in which we keep our mouth, teeth and gums clean and healthy. Oral health maintenance can sometimes fall by the wayside as the year winds down and the holidays add more busyness to our daily lives. However, particularly for those undergoing orthodontic treatment, keeping up with your oral health routine remains vitally important. Here are a few tips for keeping your smile healthy while wearing braces or aligners.
Be selective with your treats.
It’s important to be mindful of your diet when wearing braces or aligners. If you do choose to indulge in sweets, be selective. Sticky, hard candy can become trapped in the grooves of your teeth, allowing bacteria to thrive, and can also increase the likelihood of your braces breaking. On the other hand, a soft bar of chocolate or peanut butter cups will be much easier to rinse off your teeth. Colgate.com offers additional tips on what foods you can eat, and what to avoid, while wearing braces. Remember, minimizing sugar intake is essential during your orthodontic treatment, so moderation is key to enjoying any treat!
Follow the AAO’s suggestions for a healthy smile.
Orthodontic patients should be cleaning their teeth multiple times a day. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) provides these suggestions for maintaining your healthy smile:
- Rinse with a glass of water after eating to wash away the cavity-causing sugars.
- Use a toothbrush to help remove stuck-on food and plaque.
- Use an interproximal brush to clean around brackets, between wires and teeth.
- Floss in between the archwire and teeth to clean under the gumline.
Maintain regular hygiene checkups.
The AAO suggests maintaining a regular routine of seeing your general dentist every 4-6 months for cleanings and check-ups. If you are due for a cleaning or dental work, be sure to schedule and keep your appointment. Achieving optimal oral health is a partnership between you, your dentist and your orthodontist.