Things are finally starting to look up after a long and socially distanced year. The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and the end of COVID-19 seems nigh. Though New Year’s and our resolutions may feel like a long-cast off memory, it’s never too late to prioritize your smile in this upcoming year! There’s no better time to make positive changes to your dental routine and orthodontic care than 2021, from brushing up on your oral hygiene to limiting sugary snacks.
Here at Zeifman Orthodontics, we’re doing our part to create healthy smiles for patients of all ages in Florham Park and the surrounding area. Keep reading below to learn what you can do to keep your smile in great shape throughout 2021!
Take precautions to keep yourself safe
You may not realize it, but your oral health is closely tied to your body’s health. After all, your mouth and throat are your first line of defense against most diseases! That 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 between yourself and others. 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 distancing 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. For maximum effectiveness, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds any time you’ve been out in public. Do the same after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose to ensure that your hands are as germ-free as possible.
You can use hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to soap and water, but make sure that the sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol. It’s also wise to keep your hands away from your face, eyes, and mouth, even if they’re clean. This can be a tough habit to break, but the fewer chances we give germs to spread, the better off we’ll all be.
Keep up with your oral hygiene
We should all be taking good care of our teeth and gums to ensure our smiles stay healthy, but this is even more important for orthodontic patients! If you wear braces, you probably already know that it takes a bit of time to get used to brushing around all your wires and brackets. To keep your appliance and your teeth feeling their best, stick to these simple guidelines:
- Brush every part of your braces and every surface of your teeth.
- Brush until your braces are clean and shiny—fuzzy or dull brackets are a sign of potentially poor brushing habits.
- Floss every night before you go to bed.
- Take advantage of floss threaders and water piks to help keep those hard-to-reach parts of your mouth free from bacteria.
Whether you’re in braces or clear aligners, there are a few basic tips you should always follow to successfully remove plaque and keep your smile sparkling clean:
- Brush at least 3-4 times each a day, after every meal and once before bed.
- Use a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
- Brush gently at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line, moving the toothbrush across each tooth to remove any 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 your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and freshen your breath too.
Cut back 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 will mitigate your risk of cavities during treatment. One of the best things you can do for your smile is to cut back on sugar and soft drinks! Sugar is a carbohydrate, a compound that fuels acidic production by bacteria on your teeth. Acid produced by these bacteria are largely responsible for cavities and other forms of tooth decay. This is bad news for anybody’s mouth, but when you factor in brackets, wires, and bands, you’re giving bacteria and their highly corrosive acids plenty of places to hide and multiply in.
Soft drinks can damage braces and aligners alike, thanks to the sugar and acid they contain. This increases the risk to your tooth enamel and can cause decalcification if soda is allowed to sit around the brackets of your braces. The bracket-free nature of aligners doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook! Small amounts of liquid can seep into aligners when you take a drink; the liquid is then held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. Prolonged exposure to acid liquids like soda can accelerate damage to the teeth.
Another simple way to keep your mouth healthy is to drink more water! Saliva exists in part to keep your mouth clean, and regularly drinking water encourages saliva production. It also helps flush pieces of food from your braces. Try to keep soda and fruit juices to a minimum and opt for bottles of water instead.
Stick to your scheduled appointments
In 2020, we had to deal with rescheduled appointments and temporary closings, but between springtime and vaccine rollouts, it seems like things are slowly returning to normal! 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 Florham Park office. These appointments allow Dr. Zeifman to make sure that 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 Zeifman Orthodontics
As challenging as 2020 was, we’re proud of you for making it through with a smile on your face. Zeifman Orthodontics looks 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. Zeifman.