The Importance of Keeping Up With Your Dental Health
It's not easy to maintain consistent good oral health. That's because in the invisible but serious battle against gum disease and tooth decay, there's no neutral ground.
You're either fighting it offensively, or you’re losing. Here’s how to be a winner against plaque.
Tips for Avoiding Plaque
The moment after you brush and floss, plaque, those native oral bacteria, are repopulating their favorite playground, your mouth.
At Embrace Orthodontics, our approach includes dentist-level professional cleanings and an emphasis on patient education so that you can continue the battle effectively at home.
In order to do so, stick to these four easy tips, recommended by Dr. Sievers and Dr. Van Vooren:
Achieve a balanced diet, preferably with each of the five major food groups:
- cereals and other grain products
- meat, poultry and fish
- milk, cheese and yogurt
- Limit the number of snacks that you eat
- If you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit
- Each time that you eat foods that contain sugars or starches, brush your teeth
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners
See Your Dentist
- Maintain your regularly scheduled check-ups with your dentist
The best and simplest way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day.
Flossing daily removes plaque from between the teeth and in the areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. Both are essential steps in preventing tooth and gum disease.
Plaque Is Wack
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods, such as candy and cookies, and starched foods, such as bread and crackers can all cause acids to form, which in turn leave plaque on your teeth.
Plaque produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender and bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth allowing pockets to form and fill with bacteria.
If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, gum disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.
Some simple methods that Dr. Sievers and Dr. Van Vooren recommend to minimize your plaque are:
- Carry a travel toothbrush. This lets you brush after eating, no matter where you are.
- Rinse after eating. This keeps food from sticking to your teeth when you can't brush.
- Try an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can make teeth cleaning easier.
Eating With Braces
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time. However, before you enjoy some of the treats you love, you'll need to avoid any foods that could damage your new braces.
Foods You Can Eat
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of to keep your braces functioning perfectly.
Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces.
Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry – it’s normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won’t be loose anymore.
Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets
The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.
You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.
Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, or Tie
Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaces wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and begun causing irritation to your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out.
This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can so we can fix the actual problem instead of you only masking the symptoms at home.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.
For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Following instructions is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.
Tips for Athletes & Musicians
You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic friendly mouth guard, or to remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game.
If you have an accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment.
If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It’s normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position.
Sores can also develop, but the liberal use of wax and warm saltwater rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.