Best care practices while in orthodontic treatment
Once you make the (very smart) decision to get orthodontic treatment, you may wonder what comes next. Taking care of your appliance, teeth and gums throughout treatment is essential for a healthy smile. When you see the end result, we’re confident that you’ll agree the effort was well worth it.
Here are some of the best ways to take care of your braces, Invisalign® aligners, and other appliances during treatment and your retainer after treatment, so you can get maximum results.
It starts with taking care of your teeth
Excellent oral hygiene is the foundation for successful orthodontic treatment. It’s very important to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout the process.
Prairie Grove Orthodontics recommends that you:
- Brush three times a day – Yes, we said three! Ideally, you should brush after each mealtime. Just remember the 3:3 rule–three times a day, for three minutes per session. If you have braces, be sure to angle your toothbrush around each bracket and under the wire.
- Floss at least once a day – With or without orthodontic treatment, flossing is essential to maintaining good oral health. You should floss at least once each day, or preferably every morning and night.
- Rinse twice a day – Mouthwashes like Crest ProRinse help kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. Rinse once when you wake up and once after your last meal of the day.
- Use gum or breath mints that contain xylitol – You can use any sort of xylitol gum or breath mints, as long as xylitol is the first ingredient listed on the label. Use them up to four times per day, after meals, for 5-10 minutes tops. Be sure to chew carefully to keep your appliance safe–without xylitol, gum and hard candy are off-limits.
Protect your appliance while eating
It’s easy to care for Invisalign aligners while eating–all you have to do is take them out and store them in a safe place, then put them back in when you’re done. Braces do require extra care, but with the right food choices and habits, you can keep your braces in tip-top shape. In general, Prairie Grove Orthodontics recommends eating softer foods, especially after an appointment when your mouth may be sore.
If you find yourself questioning if a food is safe, it’s better to take it slow, ask us at your next appointment, or avoid it altogether. Remember to never chew on non-food items, such as pens, pencils, or fingernails.
- Say no to hard or sticky foods – Things like gummy candy, hard candy, ice cubes, lollipops, and popcorn kernels can get stuck or break your braces.
- Don’t drink sugary or acidic drinks – These drinks, when mixed with saliva, create plaque–a sticky film that coats your teeth and is difficult to remove, even with consistent brushing. Avoid high-sugar and high-acidity drinks such as soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices. Water is always best.
- Cut your food into smaller pieces – You don’t have to go without bagels, pizza crusts, celery, carrots, apples, taco shells, or other chewy or crunchy foods. Just cut them into smaller pieces that won’t damage your braces.
- Eat soft, orthodontic-friendly foods – Lots of soft foods are perfectly safe to eat with braces, including yogurt, pudding, cheese, bananas, pasta, mashed potatoes, peanut butter, and more.
Keeping your aligners clean and safe
First and foremost, be sure to remove your Invisalign aligners before eating or drinking anything other than water. You should also brush and floss after meals and beverages whenever possible–anything that is left on your teeth could end up trapped under your aligners.
Here are some other care tips:
- Clean your aligners regularly – Gently clean your aligners with a toothbrush and toothpaste or RetainerBrite® 1-2 times each day and disinfect them daily with EverSmile® White Foam or a similar product. Never soak them in mouthwash or use denture cleaner.
- Always store your aligners in their case – Avoid setting them next to your plate or in a napkin, where they can easily get lost or thrown away. (Trust us on this!)
- Stay on alert – Keep your aligners away from potential hazards, including pets, boiling water, bleach, and other cleaning products.
Your retainer has an important role
Orthodontic care doesn’t end once your braces or aligners are removed. When you are through with active treatment, your retainer plays a critical role in stabilizing the new position of your teeth. You need to wear your retainer every night to prevent your teeth from shifting.
Also, be sure to:
- Treat your retainer gently – When you put your retainer in, check that it’s securely in place. When you remove it, loosen it in several places before gently dislodging it.
- Keep it clean – Carefully scrub your retainer with a soft toothbrush and water at least once a day. You can also put it in a cup of warm water (never hot) along with a Retainer Brite® cleaner tablet for deeper cleaning.
- Store it in a safe place – Just like aligners, do not put your retainer in a napkin that can easily get lost or thrown away. Retainers are also sensitive to heat and should be kept out of reach of pets.
- Replace your retainer when needed – Even the best-made retainer will eventually wear out. If your retainer is broken, deteriorated, or feels different than it used to, your Prairie Grove orthodontist can make a new one for you.
Meet the team with a focus on care
At Prairie Grove Orthodontics, we’re all about care. While you take care of your appliance we’ll take care of you–through every step of treatment and beyond. Properly taking caring of your appliance throughout treatment is critical for developing the healthy, confident smile you’re looking for—let our team be your guide in making sure you get the absolute best results. Whether it’s a recommended care regimen for braces, Invisalign aligners, or any other appliance, we’ve got you covered.
Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation with Prairie Grove Orthodontics today. Your consultation will include one-on-one Q&A time with a doctor, digital X-rays, a 3-D model of your teeth and gums, and a personalized treatment plan – all in one convenient visit.
No dentist referral is necessary, so it’s easy to get started. Contact us today!