Over the past year, we’ve all had to make some adjustments. With mask mandates and social distancing, life looks a little different than ever before. However, we’ve seen our communities come together and support each other through the toughest of times. With so many changes, you may have some questions about orthodontic care in 2021. Thankfully, we’ve been able to adapt, too!
At The Orthodontic Offices of Dr. Jared Lee, we believe you should have access to high-quality oral health care, even during a pandemic. It’s more important now than ever to be taking steps to ensure we all stay safe and healthy with the best orthodontic care in 2021. Keep reading as we take a look at some of the ways you can care for your smile in the months ahead!
Protect Yourself and Others
There are a few simple habits that can help protect you and your community from COVID-19 and other viruses. The most common recommendation we’ve received throughout the pandemic is to always wear a mask when you’re in public or around anyone who doesn’t live with you. Masks don’t replace social distancing, though, so remember to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others whenever possible. You should also try to avoid indoor spaces as much as possible, especially those that are crowded or poorly ventilated.
Last but certainly not least, wash your hands often and properly! Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds any time you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze, and after you’ve been in public. If you can’t get to soap and water right away, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol instead. You should also do your best to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you’re out in public. It can be a hard habit to break, but the less chance we give germs to multiply and spread, the better off we’ll all be!
Brush Up on Your Dental Hygiene
Whether you’re working from home, doing virtual school, or making your daily commute to the office, you still have a schedule to keep up with. That being said, it can be easy to let oral hygiene fall to the bottom of the to-do list! It’s important for everyone to practice good oral care, however, if you’re wearing braces or aligners, it’s absolutely essential.
If you have braces, you’re probably already used to the creative maneuvering it takes to get around the brackets and wires. For the best results, remember to:
- Use fluoride toothpaste with a soft toothbrush
- Replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear
- Brush around every part of your braces and every surface of your teeth
- Be gentle around your gum line
- Brush until your brackets are clean and shiny
- Floss every night before you go to bed
- Use tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas
Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some dental hygiene basics you should always maintain. These help prevent tooth decay and gum disease while keeping your breath fresh as well!
- Brush at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day.
- Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush across the teeth to effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness.
- Use antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health.
Watch What You Put In Your Mouth
Keeping up a healthy, nutritious diet is great for your oral health, especially during the orthodontic treatment process. Carbohydrates provide the bacteria on your teeth the fuel it needs to allow acids to develop. Sugar is a carb, so excessive sugary foods can lead to tooth decay and cavities. This is bad enough on teeth without braces, but add brackets and wires into the mix and you’ve got multiple places for bacteria to hide and multiply.
Another simple way to keep your mouth in great shape is to increase your daily water intake. Saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth clean and drinking water frequently helps encourage saliva production. It also helps flush food particles from your braces and in between your teeth. This year, try keeping cans of soda to a minimum and invest in a reusable water bottle instead!
Never Miss A Check-Up
If you’re a current patient, you already know that follow-up visits with Dr. Lee are scheduled for every six to eight weeks. With temporary closings, rescheduled appointments, and general uncertainty, orthodontic care in 2020 looked slightly different than we’re used to. However, we’re hopeful that 2021 will be the year of getting everything back on track, including regular visits to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned!
Whether you’re wearing braces or Invisalign, these check-ups with our team are an important part of your treatment plan and help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time. We always aim to keep your appointment running on time and adjustments tend to be pretty quick, so you can be in and out in no time! We’ll always work with your schedule to plan your appointments when it’s most convenient for you.
It’s important to visit your regular dentist during orthodontic treatment, too! Routine visits to your dentist throughout the year can help prevent oral disease and may catch an existing issue in the early stages. Schedule appointments with your dentist every six months so your oral health can be closely monitored. This will allow us to develop a combined treatment plan with your dentist if necessary.
Treat Non-Emergencies From Home
While we’re still practicing social distancing, it can be encouraging to know that there are some easy at-home solutions to many common orthodontic issues!
While orthodontic treatment itself doesn’t cause mouth sores, some patients are more susceptible to them while they’re in braces. If you’re dealing with a painful sore on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums, get some relief by swabbing a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the sore.
Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires
If any part of your braces comes loose or breaks during treatment, contact our office as soon as possible so we can determine what your next steps should be. If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, try to leave it be until you contact us and don’t connect any elastics to it during this time.
If any piece of your braces has completely broken off, place it in a clean, sealed bag and we’ll advise you on what to do. If you’re experiencing irritation, you can cover the component that’s bothering you with a small amount of orthodontic wax for relief.
Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie
As treatment progresses and your teeth begin moving towards the desired positions, you may find the archwire connecting them shifts as well. This may result in it poking out a bit near the back of your mouth, irritating your cheeks or gums. Use the eraser end of the pencil or a clean cotton swab to gently move it back to where it’s supposed to be.
Likewise, wires or ties that have moved can often be gently manipulated back into place using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. A pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out can help relieve the immediate discomfort, too.
Tooth pain or loosening
It’s natural for your teeth to loosen slightly during orthodontic treatment to accommodate the movements we want them to make. This can sometimes cause temporary tenderness or mild discomfort. Saltwater rinses are a tried and true way to relieve oral soreness! Simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can also provide relief.
Commit to Orthodontic Care in 2021 with Dr. Jared Lee
With so many changes over the last year, we’re thankful to be able to continue to care for your smile. With virtual visits and convenient treatment options, our Oxnard and Santa Paula offices are here for you. If you’re ready to commit to caring for your smile in 2021, contact us today for a free consultation with Dr. Lee!