October is both National Orthodontic Health Month and National Dental Hygiene Month! And, with Halloween just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to provide some tricks for caring for your braces and orthodontic appliances, and keeping an overall healthy smile.
The candy dilemma and making a better choice
Some would agree that the best part of Halloween is all the candy! And, let’s face it, many of you will indulge in sweets, so here are some things to keep in mind when enjoying your candy.
Let’s start with good alternatives for protecting your braces and orthodontic appliances. A simple bar of chocolate without caramel or many other ingredients will wash off your teeth fairly easily. Examples of these would be a soft bar of chocolate, peanut butter cups, or any type of melt-in-your-mouth option. Remember, minimizing sugar intake is essential during your orthodontic treatment, so moderation is key to enjoying any treat!
So, which candies should you avoid? The short answer is any candies that are sour, hard or sticky. Sour candy has a higher acidic content than other types and can lead to cavities. Hard candy typically sits in your mouth as it dissolves, leaving more time for sugars to attack your tooth enamel. Sticky candy allows sugars to get trapped in the grooves of your teeth and are more difficult to rinse away with saliva or water than the average candy. All these candies contain sugar and create excess bacteria in your mouth that allows acids to thrive and develop into tooth decay. And, if you have an orthodontic appliance, it is best to just say “no” in order to reduce the likelihood of breaking or harming your braces or fixed appliances.
Tools to combat those sugar monsters
Orthodontic patients should be cleaning their teeth multiple times a day. As your candy consumption increases, use these tools suggested by the American Association of Orthodontist (AAO) to maintain your healthy smile:
- Rinse with a glass of water afterwards 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.
Remember these tricks when you indulge in your treats! Happy Halloween!