As busy as the world is these days, it can be hard to find time to do things just for yourself. The start of a brand new year can provide you with the perfect excuse to focus on YOU! Whether you want to drop a few pounds, hit the gym more often, or improve your oral health, you can take advantage of the energy and excitement this time of year brings to create an even better version of yourself.

If you’re looking to take your smile to the next level in 2019, Dudley Smiles is here to help! To maintain teeth and gums that look and feel great, a good oral hygiene routine is key. We’ve put together some of our favorite tips for achieving excellent oral health and a confident smile below. Keep reading to learn more!

How are your oral hygiene habits?

Most of us have an oral hygiene routine we’re pretty comfortable with. However, it’s still worth reviewing that routine from time to time since guidelines and recommendations can change. If you want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your mouth healthy, the best place to start is with your brushing and flossing. While it may not seem like rocket science, you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong! Brushing and flossing regularly is the best way to maintain good oral health, but how you carry out these tasks is almost as important as how often you do so.

When bacterial plaque is left to accumulate, it can cause cavities, tooth decay, and eventually, it may even lead to gum disease. In order to successfully remove it, there are some basic steps you should always follow when cleaning your teeth and gums. To get the most out of your dental hygiene routine, you should be:

  • brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, preferably with 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 remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
  • flossing at least once per day to remove any bacteria and food that has accumulated
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes as needed

Although it would be beneficial for all of us to take our oral health seriously, it’s imperative that you do so as an orthodontic patient, especially if you’re in braces. That’s because the brackets and wires can create lots of little nooks and crannies that can trap food debris and bacteria. These areas may take a little more time and effort to clean thoroughly, so if you do wear braces, take care to clean them thoroughly and carefully.

After you’ve brushed up on all the basics of your oral hygiene routine, we recommend trying these additional tips to add a little extra something to your smile!

  • Replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear (or when you’ve had a cold or any other illness)
  • Brush around every part of your braces if you wear them
  • Brush the surface of every tooth
  • Floss every night before you go to bed, using tools like a floss threader or oral irrigator to get into hard-to-reach areas

You may also want to consider purchasing and using a power toothbrush, such as Sonicare or Oral-B, to help with your brushing.  These toothbrushes may be better at removing food and plaque than a manual toothbrush for some people. Power toothbrushes removes some of the technique that is required for a manual toothbrush.  As an added bonus, they often have a timer on them to tell you when to stop brushing!

A note for our Invisalign patients

If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your smile, you may be enjoying a bit more freedom and flexibility than those in traditional braces, but you’re not off the hook when it comes to caring for your teeth! You should also be maintaining an excellent dental hygiene routine, and because Invisalign relies on patient compliance to work, you should be:

  • removing your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than water
  • wearing your aligners for 20-22 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment
  • changing your aligners out on the schedule given to you by Dr. Dudley

If you neglect to follow our recommendations throughout the orthodontic process, it can result in a longer treatment time and may even affect the overall success of the system.

Dudley Smiles team member

Take advantage of the tools you’ve got

We touched on it briefly above, but traditional braces can sometimes make your dental hygiene routine a little more complicated. This is especially true in the early days! Fortunately, there are many products available that have been designed to make the cleaning process easier for you.

Floss threaders are a good example of this. As you might expect from the name, it threads a bit like a needle, and works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the archwire. This allows you to grab the floss on each end, sliding it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a thorough job. This can be an excellent alternative to regular dental flossing.

We also love interdental brushes for keeping teeth clean while you’re in braces. Because they fit easily in between the wires and the teeth, they’re able to remove plaque and food debris from areas that can otherwise be hard to reach. Oral irrigators, like Waterpiks, work similarly by shooting a high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth that targets any remaining food debris and plaque that may be stuck between your teeth and braces.

Just remember, as helpful as these products can be, they shouldn’t take the place of your normal oral hygiene routine. They work best when you use them in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing.

Stay prepared for on-the-go care

We’d love it if all of our patients would brush and floss after every meal, but we also know that can be hard to accomplish if you’re always on the go! Get ahead of the game by filling a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re in braces, add some orthodontic wax, too. This way you’ll have always have a quick fix with you in case any minor emergencies pop up!

Dudley Smiles waiting area

Let your smile shine this year with Dudley Smiles

Here at Dudley Smiles, we’re known for providing patients with more than a beautiful smile. We work hard to give every patient we treat a stress-free, rewarding orthodontic experience from your first appointment to your last. While the simple tips we’ve listed above give you a great start on improving your oral health, our care doesn’t stop there! Our talented team is always here for you should you find yourself needing a little extra help or encouragement, too. We look forward to working with you towards a straighter, healthier smile this year!

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