Now that the holiday season has passed, it’s the perfect time to think about making positive changes in our lives. Even if you aren’t a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, there’s something about the start of a new year that inspires us to reset our habits, whether it’s losing weight, exercising more, or even giving your smile a little extra sparkle! Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, and Dr. Jared Lee wants to help you keep your smile in tip-top shape this year. Even though January may be slipping past us already, but there’s still plenty of time to embrace these simple tips that can have a lasting impact on your smile in 2019!
Get back to basics
You’ve heard it over and over again since you were a child, but brushing and flossing really is the most important thing you can do to keep your smile healthy and functioning as it should. In order to remove bacterial plaque successfully, there are some dental hygiene basics that you should be following. These include:
- brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, moving the toothbrush across all surfaces of the teeth to effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
- flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
- replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you’ve had a cold or any other illness
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes for an extra boost!
While these are basics we encourage everyone to adopt, it’s especially important to have a good oral hygiene routine when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you’re one of our braces patients, the areas between your brackets and gums and the spaces in between the wires and your teeth need to be carefully cleaned, but that can be a little tricky sometimes. If you haven’t already tried them, interdental brushes can make this a much simpler process. They fit easily into hard to reach spots and remove any sticky plaque and food debris you might have missed. Oral irrigators like a Waterpik are also great for the same reason. These use a high-pressure, targeted stream of water to clean the teeth more efficiently.
If you’re currently wearing braces, you can get better results from your dental hygiene routine by:
- using fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush
- replacing your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear
- brushing around every part of your braces, and the surface of every tooth
- flossing every night before you go to bed, taking advantage of tools like floss threaders and waterpiks if you’re having trouble getting into the tighter spaces
For patients straightening their smile with a clear aligner system like Invisalign, be sure you’re removing your aligner every time you eat or drink anything other than water. You should also be gently cleaning your aligner regularly.
Let good food be your guide
Our Christmas cakes and cookies are finally gone, but there’s already Valentine’s treats lining the supermarket shelves! There’s no better time to review the important role food plays in keeping your teeth healthy, and reminding yourself of what foods you should be avoiding if you wear braces. If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Dr. Jared Lee using traditional braces, you should steer clear of the following items for the time being.
- Chewy foods like fruit snacks and bagels
- Crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candy
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and certain types of candy
Food restrictions can be frustrating, but remember that this is only temporary. All your hard work will be worth it once we reveal your new smile! There are also so many foods you can still indulge in that are good for your mind, body, and mouth. For example, milk and other dairy products pack a calcium-filled punch that can help bones and teeth stay strong and healthy. Whole grain bread and pastas are full of complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow on, while chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that helps strengthen and protect tooth enamel. Last but not least, eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body! Leafy greens, in particular, contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that play a vital role in maintaining oral health.
If you really want to take your smile to the next level, consider cutting down on your consumption of sugar and soft drinks. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates feed the bacteria on your teeth, encouraging them to produce the acids that cause tooth decay. Soft drinks contain sugar and acid that are a double whammy risk to the enamel on your teeth. They can also cause unsightly decalcification if plaque is allowed to collect around the brackets of your braces.
Care for your smile on the go
We recommend brushing and flossing after every meal, but that can be hard if you’re away from home! We know that today’s families are busier than ever before, so to care for your teeth and gums on the go, stock a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re a braces patient, add orthodontic wax to your kit, too. This will give you a quick fix in case you experience any minor emergencies!
Start 2019 off with a smile
To get your new year off to the very best start, follow these simple tips for keeping your smile happy and your whole mouth healthy! Dr. Jared Lee and the rest of our team are here to support you should you have any questions or concerns, or if you just need a little extra encouragement from time to time. We’re positive that 2019 will be a year of healthy habits, lasting changes, and beautifully aligned smiles in Santa Paula, Oxnard, and the surrounding communities. We’re excited to share that vision with all of our patients, including you!