While most New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on changing your eating habits, exercising more often, or saving up a little extra money for a rainy day, we think it’s also the perfect time to shine a spotlight on your oral hygiene routine! Keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy is important for everybody, but it’s an essential part of successful orthodontic treatment. We’re all about smiles here at Dunn Orthodontics, and we want to help you keep yours looking and feeling great throughout 2019. Below you’ll find a collection of tips we’ve put together that will keep your smile in shape this year and beyond, so keep reading to learn more!

Brush up on the basics

Most of us grow up knowing that we should be brushing and flossing regularly, even if we don’t always do it! But this really is the best – and easiest – way to keep our mouths healthy. We recommend using a soft toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste to brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. You should also be flossing every night before you go to bed. If you’re one of our braces patients, it’s particularly important to clean around your brackets and wires carefully.

While it might not be rocket science, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t brush properly! For a sparkling smile and happy mouth, here are some basic brushing guidelines to follow.

  • Brush all your teeth, every time you brush.
  • Keep your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line.
  • Brush from the base of the teeth back up to the chewing surface.
  • Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of your teeth.
  • Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
  • Consistently brush across each tooth, giving equal time to all teeth.
  • Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.

Make the most of the tools available

Traditional braces can sometimes make your dental hygiene routine a little more complicated, but the good news is, there are a number of products available to help make this process much easier and more efficient! For example, floss threaders are a great alternative to regular dental floss. It gets its name from threading 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 for a thorough job. If you’d like to try it but aren’t sure how, let us know and we’ll be happy to give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the office!

Interdental brushes are also a big help in keeping your teeth clean, as they can easily fit in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. The same goes for oral irrigators like the Waterpik. These shoot a targeted, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, getting rid any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces in a snap.

Keep in mind that all of these products should be used to supplement your normal brushing and flossing routine, not replace it.

girl with braces at the orthodontists

Healthy foods = healthy mouth

Now that we’ve all said goodbye to the last of our holiday treats, it’s a good time to go over all the foods you should avoid while in braces versus all the foods you can happily embrace! If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Dunn Orthodontics using traditional braces, do your best to keep the following items on the back burner for now.

  • Chewy foods like licorice and bagels
  • Hard, crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candy
  • Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and fruit snacks
  • Foods you have to bite into, such as corn on the cob, raw apples, and carrots

We appreciate that this list can feel a little restrictive at times, but it’s only temporary, and will be more than worth it once your new smile is revealed! And there are still so many delicious foods out there that you can indulge in, including many that are good for your mind, body, and mouth!

For instance, milk and other dairy products are delicious, and pack a calcium-filled punch to help keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy. Whole grain bread and pastas have complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and they also offer many nutrients to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Chicken, tender red meat, and fatty fish have a lot of phosphorus in them, an important mineral that strengthens and protects the enamel on your teeth. Last but certainly not least, eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body and teeth! Leafy greens, in particular, contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are instrumental in maintaining oral health.

If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of braces, you’re not off the hook! Be sure you’re removing your aligner before every meal and snack, and gently cleaning it every night. Although you don’t have the same restrictions that someone in braces do, you’ll still benefit from eating the healthy, nutrient-rich food we’ve listed above, so skip the junk food and stick to the good stuff that strengthens your smile!

women smiling on the street

Care for your mouth on the go

Families today are busier than ever before. We recommended that our patients brush and floss after every meal, but that can be hard if you’re away from home! To care for your teeth and gums on the go, stock a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re in braces, add orthodontic wax to your kit, too. This will give you a quick fix in case of a minor emergency!

Start the year off right with a smile from Dunn Orthodontics

Whether you’re a past, present, or future patient, we want you to start and finish this year with a healthy, happy mouth! We create beautiful smiles daily for patients of all ages in Phoenix, Litchfield Park, and the surrounding communities. If you want to know more about the best ways to care for your teeth and gums in 2019 and beyond, get in touch with us today!