If you’re anything like us, you may be wondering what on earth happened to 2019. It seems like we blinked and it flew by! With a brand new year on the horizon, it feels like the perfect time to think about how you can improve your oral health in 2020. Even if resolutions aren’t something you normally participate in, a fresh start can still be exciting. Taking advantage of all that energy can often lead to change that is lasting and positive!
While many people tend to focus on things like eating healthier, exercising more often, and sorting out their finances in the new year, we’re all about helping you achieve a healthier, brighter smile. That’s why our team has put together this collection of tips and tricks to help you get your smile in tip-top shape in 2020—and beyond! Keep reading to learn more about how you can make the most out of your oral hygiene routine, and how Zeifman Orthodontics can give you a beautiful smile you’ll be proud to show off all year long.
Be sure to brush and floss regularly (and correctly!)
This may seem like a no-brainer, but brushing and flossing really is the easiest way to keep your mouth healthy. We recommend brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day for two minutes each time. You should also be flossing every night before bed. Patients who wear braces should pay special attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, carefully cleaning around the wires. If you need a little extra help, interdental brushes are a great way to get in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. Ortho-picks are also designed to make flossing with braces much more effective.
Get back to the basics
Even if you already have a solid brushing and flossing routine in place, it’s worth reviewing the guidelines occasionally since recommendations can change. While everyone knows that brushing and flossing are an essential part of keeping the teeth and gums clean, many people don’t realize that how these tasks are carried out is almost as important as how often they are done. Taking your oral hygiene back to the basics can help!
In order to successfully remove the plaque and bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay, there are some fundamental rules to follow.
- Brush all the teeth every time, and be consistent when brushing across each tooth.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle gently against the gum line.
- Brush from the base of the tooth up to the chewing surface.
- Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of teeth.
- Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
- Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months, or after any illness.
- Floss every night before bed.
Take advantage of all the available tools
As we mentioned above, flossing can sometimes be tricky when you wear braces, especially in the beginning. Along with ortho-picks, floss threaders can really help make the job a little easier.
This tool threads a bit like a needle, and works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the archwire. This lets you grab the floss on each end, and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums. It sounds far more complicated than it actually is, but if you’re still feeling unsure, let us know! We’d be happy to give you a quick demonstration the next time you’re in the office.
Waterpiks and other oral irrigators can also be used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing. These instruments shoot targeted high-pressure streams of water onto the teeth and in your mouth, helping to remove any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces.
Focus on healthier foods for a healthier smile
Once the holidays have passed, taking with them tables laden with treats, it’s a great time to review all the foods you can and can’t have when you’re in braces. If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with us using traditional braces, you should be avoiding:
- any chewy or sticky foods like gummies, bagels, caramels, and gum
- any crunchy or hard foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candy
- any foods you have to bite into, like corn on the cob and raw apples or carrots
As frustrating as food restrictions can be, they’re an important part of the treatment process. Fortunately, there are still tons of fabulous foods you can safely indulge in! Try to aim for foods that are good for your braces, body, and mind for the ultimate health benefits. This includes:
Milk and other dairy products
Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy pack a calcium-filled punch that helps to keep bones and teeth strong.
Whole grain breads and pastas
The complex carbohydrates that are found in whole grain products give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on. They also provide an abundance of nutrients that keep teeth and gums healthy.
Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish
Although these foods are usually associated with protein, they also contain phosphorus, an important mineral that helps to strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies are excellent sources of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and magnesium. All of these minerals help improve and maintain oral health.
If you’re using a clear aligner system such as Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of braces, you’ll have a little more freedom, but you should be vigilant about removing your aligner before every meal and snack. You might not have the same food restrictions our braces patients do, but you’ll still benefit from eating the healthy, nutrient-rich food we’ve listed for you here!
Keep your smile looking good when you’re on the go
Today’s families are busier than ever, and you may find yourself needing to brush and floss while you’re away from home. Keep a small bag stocked with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss for an easy way to maintain your sparkling smile even when you’re out and about! If you’re a braces patient, add some dental wax to your kit so you’ve got a quick fix in case of an emergency.
Kick the new year off right with a beautiful smile from Zeifman Orthodontics
Zeifman Orthodontics is proud to help patients of all ages build a foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Whether you’re a past, present, or future patient, we’d love to see you 2020 off to a super start by following our tips for keeping your smile healthy and happy! If you’re in Florham Park or the surrounding communities and want to learn more about the orthodontic care we offer, get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Zeifman.