As we’ve been dealing with mandated closures and stay-at-home orders around our communities, many orthodontic patients have found themselves wondering how this will affect their current treatment plan. If you’re a part of the Dream Orthodontics family and have had some questions or concerns about maintaining your orthodontic treatment from home in recent weeks, we’re here for you!
While we continue to practice social distancing, we’ve implemented some change in order to remain available to meet your needs. By utilizing virtual visits and consultations, we can keep up with your treatment, even if you’re staying home! Not only that, but there are actually quite a few things you can do at home to maintain your orthodontic treatment. 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!
Pay attention to what you’re eating
As a braces patient, you probably know all the ins and outs of food restrictions. While it can be frustrating to eliminate some of your favorite foods, it’s essential to do so in order to keep your braces from any damage. Crunchy and chewy foods can really hinder your progress in braces treatment, bending and warping wires, and getting stuck in those hard to reach places. This gives bacteria a place to grow, which can lead to some undesirable consequences. Throughout the treatment process, 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.
Maintain a good oral hygiene routine
While a good dental hygiene routine should be a priority for everyone, it’s essential in the progress of your orthodontic treatment. If you don’t properly care for your teeth and gums during treatment, you could have to spend a longer time in your braces or aligners. A healthy mouth is a must in order to move your teeth successfully!
The first step in any dental hygiene routine should be effective brushing. For this, you’ll want to ensure you’re cleaning all three surfaces of the teeth. Brush the outer surfaces at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, and take 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 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.
Don’t forget to floss every night before you go to sleep! This is an equally important part of maintaining oral health. 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 a regular brushing and flossing routine.
How to treat non-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. Morra will advise you on 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. Morra 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.
Even though school and community sports are on hold for the time being, plenty of athletes continue to practice their skills from home. Even if you’re just kicking a ball around in your yard or hitting balls in an empty field, it’s always a good idea to keep your mouth protected. The easiest way to do this is by wearing a mouthguard!
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. Dr. Morra is always happy to discuss the benefits of an orthodontic mouthguard with you!
What about Invisalign patients?
Invisalign aligners aren’t constructed with wires and brackets, 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.
Dream Orthodontics is here for you
These are unprecedented times, but that doesn’t mean your smile has to suffer! You can continue maintaining your orthodontic treatment from home, until the next time you come into our office! If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan during this time, contact our office and we’ll be happy to give you some peace of mind.