Now that the excitement and excess of the holiday season has passed, those of us here at Dillehay Orthodontics have been thinking a lot about how this time of year presents the perfect opportunity for making positive changes in many areas of our lives. Even if you’re not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, there’s something special about a fresh start and the sense of momentum it carries. There’s no better time to reset our habits and create lasting change, whether it’s losing weight, exercising more, or giving your smile a little extra sparkle! Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, and even though January is already slipping past us quickly, there’s still plenty of time to embrace some simple resolutions that can have a lasting impact on your smile in 2018.

Brushing up on all the basics

girl with a towel on her head brushing her teeth

You’ve been reminded of it ever since your first teeth came in, but brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly really is the most important thing you can do to keep your smile healthy and functional! There are some dental hygiene basics that are necessary to follow for successful bacterial plaque removal, and this includes:

  • brushing at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, 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 have a cold or any other illness
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes for an extra boost

It’s especially important to practice excellent oral hygiene when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you’re one of our braces patients, you already know that maneuvering around the brackets and wires can be a little tricky at times. Special attention must be paid to the areas between your brackets and gums, making sure the spaces in between the wires and your teeth are carefully cleaned. If you haven’t already tried them, interdental brushes can make this a much easier job. They fit in those hard to reach spots to remove any sticky plaque and food debris you might otherwise have difficulty reaching. Waterpiks are great for the same reason!

If you’re currently wearing braces, here are a few reminders on how to get the best results from your dental hygiene routine:

  • use fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush
  • replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear
  • brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth
  • look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible, since poor brushing can leave the metal looking fuzzy or dull
  • floss 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

Let good food guide you into making better choices

Woman holding a paper shopping bag

We’re just past all the cakes of Christmas and there’s already Valentine’s candy lining the supermarket shelves. There’s no better time to review the important role food plays in keeping your teeth healthy, as well as what you should be avoiding if you’re a braces patient. If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Bennett Orthodontics using traditional metal braces, you should be staying away from:

  • chewy foods like licorice and bagels
  • hard, crunchy foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candies
  • sticky foods like caramels, chewing gum, and gummy candies

We know that food restrictions can sometimes get you down, but remember, there’s so much out there you can still eat that’s good for your mind, body, and mouth. These are foods anyone can benefit from, not just those in braces or clear aligners! Consider the following healthy, nutrient-rich, safe-for-braces foods:

  • Milk and other dairy products pack a delicious, calcium-filled punch that helps bones and teeth stay strong and healthy.
  • Whole grain breads and pastas are full of complex carbohydrates that will give bacteria less digestible food to grow on, and also offer lots of nutrients to keep teeth and gums healthy.
  • Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that helps strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
  • A wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies, especially those that contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium. These are minerals that play a vital role in maintaining oral health.

One of the best things you can do for your smile is cut down on 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 can affect braces and aligners, since it has both sugar and acid, a double whammy risk to tooth enamel. This can cause unsightly decalcification if plaque that collects around braces brackets isn’t removed in a timely manner. Small amounts of liquid seep into aligners when you take a drink, and the liquid is then held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. If the liquid contains acid, like soft drinks do, that prolonged exposure can accelerate damage to teeth.

Start 2018 off with a smile with the support of Dillehay Orthodontics

Dillehay Orthodontics encourages you to get your new year off to the very best start by following these simple tips for keeping your smile happy and your whole mouth healthy. We’re always here to help should you have any questions or concerns, or if you just need a little extra support from time to time. We believe 2018 will be a year of healthy habits, positive changes, and beautiful smiles in Wichita, Derby, Newton, and Arkansas City, and we’re excited to share that vision with all of our patients, including you!