1224 McFarland Blvd. NE
Tuscaloosa, AL. 35406
Even as the closures, rescheduling, and delays of COVID-19 become a distant memory, we know that it will be a while before it’s simple to see you in our office again. The team at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics often gets asked if patients should do anything special to care for their oral health between visits. Caring for your smile between visits doesn’t take much, but the orthodontic tips below might not be common knowledge to everyone. Let’s explore tips and tricks for caring for your smile between orthodontic visits, especially when you have to wait longer than usual to see us!
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is always important, but it’s a vital part of your treatment plan too. Tooth decay and gum disease may lead to complications in your orthodontic treatment, and can even affect your final results. Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some basics of dental hygiene that you should always follow! These guidelines will help you maintain clean teeth, a healthy mouth, and fresh breath, and keep your treatment on track:
If you’re wearing braces, you already know that it can take some skillful maneuvering to clean around the brackets and wires. For the best results, we recommend:
If you wear Invisalign, you should be following the same basic guidelines for dental hygiene, but you’ll need to care for your aligners too. Always rinse them off before putting them back in your mouth, and remember to clean them well with soap and water at least twice a day.
If you notice any build-up, you can soak your aligners in an oral apparatus cleaning fluid to remove it. You can clean them with toothpaste too, but this increases the risk of scratching, dulling, or otherwise deforming them; soaking them is your best bet for safely and thoroughly cleaning them. You should never clean them with or soak them in hot water, and remember to keep them away from heat sources so they retain their shape.
If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, ensure that you wear them exactly as directed. If you’ve recently completed treatment, continue to wear your retainer as instructed by your doctor.
Invisalign patients will normally be provided with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time, but if you run out of aligners before your next scheduled appointment, we can arrange curbside pick-up for the next set. Dr. Glen Cowan and Dr. Julie Whitaker are also available for video or telephone appointments if you have any questions or concerns. Socially distanced options like these mean that all of our patients can continue their treatments safely, conveniently, and without delay.
If we’re unable to provide you a new set of aligners right away, you can continue wearing the last set you were given. However, you should only wear them 10-12 hours each day instead of the usual 20-22 hours. This shortened wear duration will help extend the life of your aligners until an appointment is available. This way you can keep your treatment plan on track and ensure that you don’t lose any of your hard-earned progress!
Cavities can negatively affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since most orthodontic procedures tend to exacerbate the risk of cavities. To combat this, try and avoid sugary snacks and drinks as much as you can. Food that is high in sugar and starch encourages plaque growth, which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
Sugar is also a carbohydrate, and carbs fuel the acidic compounds that cause cavities to form. This is bad enough on teeth without braces, but add in brackets and wires and you’ve got multiple places where bad bacteria can hide and multiply! Swap sugary drinks for water instead—it’s good for your body and can help flush food particles out of your braces and from in-between your teeth.
We recommend that all of our patients with braces stay prepared for unexpected orthodontic emergencies by keeping a “care kit” with them at all times. Some of the items we recommend including are:
Throw these items and whatever else you think would be useful into a small, portable bag and you’ll have everything you need in a pinch! This can end up saving you quite a bit of time, trouble, and discomfort if you need to perform unexpected care or you end up having to wait longer than expected for your next appointment.
We’re rooting for you, even when you can’t make it into our office! Our expert team is always available to answer your questions or address any concerns you might have about your treatment plan, your smile, or anything else. Caring for your smile is a lifelong process, and it’s never a bad time to make sure that you’re doing all you can to keep your treatment on track.
For more ways to be proactive with the orthodontic process, click here or get in touch to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker.
May 29, 2021
July 26, 2021