There’s no doubt we were all ready to welcome the start of a new year, and now that we’re a month in, we’re seeing some refreshing return to normalcy. However, getting back into a consistent routine can often mean letting some resolutions fall by the wayside. Thankfully there’s still plenty of time to commit to orthodontic care in 2021!
At Scaffidi Orthodontics, we believe it’s important to understand the importance your oral health plays in your total body health. Now more than ever, we should all be taking steps to ensure we stay safe and healthy. Keep reading as we take a look at some of the ways you can care for your smile in the upcoming months!
Protect yourself and others
There are some simple steps to take to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19 and other viruses. One of the most common recommendations throughout the pandemic is to wear a mask or face covering any time you’re in public or around people you don’t live with. Remember, though, masks aren’t a substitute for social distancing, though, and try to always 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
Even in a pandemic, many of us still have busy schedules. Whether you’re working from home, doing virtual school, or still making your daily commute to the office, it can be easy to let our oral hygiene routine take a backseat. While it’s important for everyone to practice good oral care, it’s even more important if you’re wearing braces or aligners! 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
- 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. Doing so will not only help prevent tooth decay and gum disease but keep your breath fresh as well! These include:
- brushing at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
- brushing 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
- replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health
Watch what you put in your mouth
Maintaining a healthy diet of nutritious foods is important, but especially during the orthodontic treatment process. Sugar is a carbohydrate and carbs provide the bacteria on your teeth with fuel that allows acids to develop. These acids are what cause tooth decay and cavities to form. This would be bad enough on teeth without braces, but throw brackets and wires into the mix and you’ve got multiple places for bacteria to hide and multiply.
When you’re wearing braces, your teeth are more susceptible to cavities, so cutting back on things like sugar and soda is one of the best things you can do for your smile in 2021!
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 skip a check-up
If you’re a current patient, you already know that follow-up visits with Dr. Scaffidi are scheduled for every 6-8 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 on track!
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 schedule your appointments when it’s most convenient for you.
While you’re going through the treatment process, it’s important to visit your regular dentist, 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.
How to treat non-emergencies from home
While we’re still practicing social distancing, it can be encouraging to know that there are some simple at-home solutions to some common orthodontic issues!
While the orthodontic treatment itself doesn’t cause mouth sores, some patients seem to be more susceptible to getting them while they’re in braces. If you’re dealing with a painful sore on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums, you can 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 alone until you speak with 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 secure 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 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. The eraser end of the pencil or a clean cotton swab can be used 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, then 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 offer some relief as well.
Look forward to a year full of smiles with Scaffidi Orthodontics
With so many changes over the last year, we’re thankful for the ways our community has come together to keep smiling! With more virtual options available and convenient treatment options, our Kenner, New Orleans, and Slidell offices are here for you. If you’re ready to take the first step to a future of beautiful smiles, schedule your free virtual or in-person consultation with Dr. Scaffidi and our team!