If you’re like most people, you’re likely all too ready to leave 2020 in the past! Now that we’re getting further into the new year, we’re finally starting to see some return to normalcy – although it definitely is a “new normal.” After dealing with a year of changes, you may have some questions on what orthodontic care in 2021 will look like.
Here at Alba Orthodontics, we believe it’s important to know the connection between your oral health and your overall health. Now more than ever, we should all be taking extra precautions to ensure we stay safe and healthy. Let’s take a look at some of the small ways you can care for your smile in the upcoming months!
Refresh your dental hygiene routine
Although we’re still living in a pandemic, many of us still have busy schedules. Whether you’re working from home and doing virtual school or still making your daily commute to the office, it can be easy to let oral hygiene fall by the wayside. While it’s important for everyone to practice good oral care, it’s even more important if you’re wearing braces or aligners! If you have braces, you’re probably already adjusted to the creative maneuvering it takes to get around the brackets and wires. For the best results, you should always:
- use fluoride toothpaste with a soft toothbrush
- replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear
- brush around every part of your braces and every surface of your teeth
- brush until your brackets are clean and shiny
- floss every night before you go to bed
- use tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas
Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some dental hygiene basics you should always maintain. Doing so will not only help prevent tooth decay and gum disease but keep your breath fresh as well! These include:
- brushing at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
- brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush across the teeth to effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
- replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health
Protect yourself and others
There are some simple steps to take to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19 and other viruses. One of the most common recommendations from health experts is to wear a mask or face covering any time you’re in public or around people you don’t live with. This helps to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the people around you.
Remember, though, that masks aren’t a substitute for social distancing, and try to always maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others whenever possible. You should also try to avoid indoor spaces as much as possible, especially those that are crowded or poorly ventilated.
Last but certainly not least, wash your hands often and properly! Here’s a CDC video on the best way to wash your hands. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds any time you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze, and after you’ve been in public. If soap and water aren’t easily accessible, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol instead. You should also do your best to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you’re out in public. It can be a hard habit to break, but the less chance we give germs to multiply and spread, the better off we’ll all be!
Pay attention to what you put in your mouth
Maintaining a healthy diet of nutritious foods is important, but especially during the orthodontic treatment process. When you’re wearing braces, your teeth are more susceptible to cavities, so cutting back on things like sugar and soda is one of the best things you can do for your smile in 2021!
Sugar is a carbohydrate and carbs provide the bacteria on your teeth with fuel that allows acids to develop. These acids are what cause tooth decay and cavities to form. This would be bad enough on teeth without braces, but throw brackets and wires into the mix and you’ve got multiple places for bacteria to hide and multiply.
Another easy way to keep your mouth in tip-top shape is to increase your daily water intake. Saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth clean, and drinking water frequently helps encourage saliva production. It also helps flush food particles from your braces and in between your teeth. This year, try keeping cans of soda to a minimum and invest in a reusable water bottle instead!
Never miss a check-up
If you’re a current patient, you already know that follow-up visits with Dr. Fred and Dr. Jeff are scheduled for every eight to 10 weeks. While we dealt with unexpected closings and canceled appointments over the past year, we’ve implemented some changes to our office to ensure a safe, healthy environment for your care, even amidst the pandemic. That means you’ll never have to miss another appointment!
Whether you’re in braces or Invisalign, these check-ups are an important part of your treatment plan and help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time. We always aim to run on time and adjustment appointments tend to be pretty quick, so you can be in and out in no time. We’ll always work with your schedule to plan your appointments when it’s most convenient for you.
While you’re going through the treatment process with our Mechanicsburg team, it’s important to visit your regular dentist, too! Routine visits to your dentist throughout the year can help prevent oral disease and may catch an existing issue in the early stages. Plan to see your dentist every six months so your oral health can be closely monitored. This will allow us to develop a combined treatment plan with your dentist if necessary.
Look ahead with a smile from Alba Orthodontics
There’s been a lot to keep up with throughout the last year, and we’re proud of you for making it through with your smile intact! With more virtual options available and convenient treatment options, we’re looking forward to providing your orthodontic care in 2021.