It’s the start of a brand new year, and even if you’re not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, this is a great time to think about resetting some of your habits. After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there’s something exciting about a fresh start, and taking advantage of that can lead to lasting positive change! Many people take this time to focus on things like eating healthier, getting outside more often, or finally saving up for that family vacation, but since we’re all about teeth here at Brodsky Orthodontics, we’ve put together a collection of tips and tricks to help you keep your smile in shape in 2019…and beyond!

Be sure to brush and floss regularly

Although this is something you’ve probably been told since you were a small child, it really is the most important thing you can do to keep your mouth healthy. It’s one of the easiest, too! Brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing nightly will go a long way towards a happy mouth. Braces patients, in particular, should pay special attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, carefully cleaning around the wires. For extra help, interdental brushes can easily fit in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris, and ortho-picks make flossing with braces much more effective.

Remember the basics of brushing

When it comes to keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy, there are some basic brushing guidelines you should always follow. We recommend the following:

  • brush all your teeth every time you brush
  • keep your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line
  • brush from the base of the teeth back up to the chewing surface
  • use short, round strokes for the front and the back of your teeth
  • use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces
  • consistently brush across each tooth
  • give equal time to all teeth
  • brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front

Take advantage of the available tools

Careful flossing can sometimes be tricky with braces, especially in the early days. Like ortho-picks, floss threaders are a great alternative to regular dental floss that is designed to make the job a little easier. This tool 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 lets you grab the floss on each end, and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a thorough job. It may sound complicated, but it really isn’t! If you’re still feeling unsure, let us know, and we’ll be happy to give you a quick demonstration the next time you visit our office.

As mentioned above, waterpiks and other oral irrigators are another tool that can be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing. These instruments shoot targeted high-pressure streams of water onto the teeth, helping to remove any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces.

Doctor talking to a patient

Healthy foods are your friend

With holiday treats off the table, at last, this is a good time to review all the foods you can and can’t have when you’re in braces. If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment using traditional metal braces, you should be steering clear of:

  • chewy or sticky foods like fruit snacks, bagels, caramels, and gum
  • crunchy or hard foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candy
  • foods you have to bite into, like corn on the cob and raw apples or carrots

Although this list can sometimes be frustrating, there’s still a ton of treats you can eat and enjoy!  Look for food that’s good for your braces, body, and mind for the ultimate health benefits. This includes items like:

Milk and other dairy products

These not only make delicious snacks, but pack a calcium-filled punch that will help keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy.

Whole grain bread and pasta

Complex carbohydrates give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and also offer a load of nutrients to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Chicken, tender red meat, and fatty fish

A protein may be the star here, but these foods also contain phosphorus, an important mineral that strengthens and protects tooth enamel.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Everybody knows that “eating the rainbow” is one of the best things you can do for your body, but this philosophy is wonderful for your teeth, too. Leafy greens, in particular, contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are instrumental in maintaining oral health.

If you’re using a clear aligner system such as Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of braces, be sure you’re removing your aligner before every meal and snack, no matter what it is. You might not have the same food restrictions our braces patients do, but you’ll still benefit from eating the healthy, nutrient-rich food we’ve listed!

Keep a portable cleaning kit handy

With today’s families constantly on the go, you may find yourself needing to brush and floss while you’re away from home. Stocking a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss is an easy way to maintain your sparkling smile when you’re out and about! We always recommended brushing and flossing after every meal, particularly if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you’re in braces, add dental wax to your kit so you’ve got a quick fix in case of an emergency.

Brodsky staff working with a patient

Avoid bad oral habits

To keep your braces functioning perfectly, there are a few bad habits you’ll want to be sure to avoid. Chewing on objects like pens or ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces. Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If these are nervous habits, a stress ball or fidget spinner can be great ways to blow off some steam that won’t interfere with your treatment plan.

Kick the new year off right with Brodsky Orthodontics

Whether you’re a past, present, or future patient, we’d love to see you start 2019 off right by following our tips for keeping your smile healthy and happy! If you’re in Lakewood or the surrounding communities and want to learn more about the orthodontic care we offer, get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation.