Over the past year, we’ve all had to make some adjustments due to COVID-19, even in the area of orthodontic care. With stay-at-home and social distancing orders, things have looked a little different lately. However, when it comes to caring for your smile between orthodontic visits, you can continue to keep your treatment on track from home! At Kovacs Orthodontics, we want to give you all the tools you need for a healthy, beautiful smile – even when you can’t make it into the office.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is a good habit for anyone, but it’s essential for our patients in braces or Invisalign. By properly caring for your smile between orthodontic visits, you can help ensure the best possible results. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can keep your smile progressing and your appliances safe until you return to our office!
Maintain Your Oral Hygiene Routine
As we mentioned before, the best thing you can do for your smile between check-ups with Dr. Kovacs is to maintain a healthy routine of brushing and flossing. If you fail to properly care for your teeth and gums during treatment, you could experience a longer treatment time in your braces or aligners. A healthy mouth is essential to successfully straighten your teeth!
The first step in any dental hygiene routine should be thorough brushing. You’ll want to be sure you’re cleaning all three surfaces of the teeth. Brush the outer surfaces at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, taking care to clean the area between your braces and gums especially well. Work on 3-4 teeth at a time, clearing them of any food and plaque before moving on to the next set.
Maintain the same 45-degree angle when you begin brushing the inner surfaces of the teeth, and follow a similar pattern of selecting a few at a time to work on.
Cleaning the chewing surfaces of your teeth is pretty straightforward! Just be sure to take your time and pay attention as you go. If you wear braces, pay special attention to the areas between the brackets and gums since food particles can get stuck there. Carefully clean between the wires and teeth, too! If you’re finding it difficult to get into these hard to reach areas effectively, an interdental brush or Waterpik can help remove any stubborn plaque and food particles.
We recommend that all our patients brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, for at least two minutes each time. For the best results, brush after every meal and before you go to bed.
Flossing is an equally important part of maintaining oral health. We recommend flossing every night before you go to sleep, so you don’t have to rush! If you’re having trouble flossing with braces, threaders or waterpiks can be useful. Just remember that these are supplemental tools and shouldn’t take the place of your regular brushing and flossing routine.
Watch What You Eat
If you’ve had your braces for any length of time, you already know the ins and outs of food restrictions. While it may be frustrating to eliminate some foods from your diet, it’s essential to keep your braces intact. Crunchy and chewy foods can cause serious damage to the wires and brackets, resulting in extra appointments and extended treatment times.
This is important, now more than ever, due to increased social distancing and safety protocols. Between orthodontic visits, you should avoid things like:
- some raw fruits and veggies
- tough cuts of meat
- several types of candy, including Jolly Ranchers and Snickers
Additionally, take care to break crusty bread into bite-sized pieces and remove corn from the cob before eating. Keep pens, pencils, and fingernails out of your mouth, too!
We know it can be annoying to have to skip your favorite snacks but remember that this part won’t last forever! Before you know it, we’ll be removing your braces and all your hard work will be worth it once you see your new smile.
Treating Minor Emergencies From Home
While we’re always here to help during times of emergency, you’ll be happy to know there are quite a few minor orthodontic issues you can treat yourself, without leaving home! These remedies can be very effective at lessening or relieving your symptoms entirely.
While orthodontic treatment itself doesn’t cause mouth sores, some patients may 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, let us know 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, keep it in a secure bag and Dr. Kovacs will advise you on the next steps. 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 your treatment progresses and your teeth begin moving towards their desired positions, you may find the archwire 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 belongs.
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.
True Orthodontic Emergencies
If you’re experiencing a true orthodontic emergency, don’t hesitate to contact us! Dr. Kovacs is always available to see you through any situation that may arise and our team is committed to giving you the best possible care throughout your treatment, even while practicing social distancing.
Use Your Mouthguards
If you plan on playing sports or any type of physical activity during your time in braces or aligners, you should always remember to use your mouthguard! Even if you’re just kicking a ball around your yard, a mouthguard can provide protection from unexpected accidents. It’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your smile!
Mouthguards are extremely easy to use and have been proven to prevent damage to your teeth, gums, and braces. The smallest amount of pressure on your braces can cause irritation in your mouth or tiny cuts and abrasions on your gums and cheeks. Mouthguards provide an extra layer of cushion to prevent this from happening.
There are many over-the-counter options available online, and these will give you the effective protection you need while participating in sports or other physical activities. We’re always happy to discuss the benefits of an orthodontic mouthguard, so don’t hesitate to reach out with questions!
Caring For Invisalign
Invisalign aligners aren’t made up of the same wires and brackets like traditional braces, so they’re pretty low maintenance in general and the risk of an orthodontic emergency is low. However, it’s still possible to break or lose an aligner! If you’re an Invisalign patient and this happens, be sure to contact our office so we can keep your treatment plan on track. In the meantime, continue to practice excellent oral hygiene and be sure to care for your aligners as well. You can do this by cleaning them gently each day and keeping them in a case when they’re not in your mouth.
Care For Your Smile With Kovacs Orthodontics
At Kovacs Orthodontics, we want you to achieve the smile of your dreams! That’s why caring for your smile between orthodontic visits is such an important part of your treatment. If you have any questions about maintaining your new smile, our team would be happy to help!