We’re almost through the first month of a brand new year, and here at Bennett Orthodontics, we’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions and resetting our habits. There’s something about the sense of momentum this time of year that gives us the perfect opportunity to make positive, lasting changes in our lives. There’s the usual changes focusing on things like losing weight, eating healthier, or exercising more, but since we’re all about smiles, we’ve put together a couple of easy oral health resolutions to stick to in 2018!

Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, and while you may not be hitting the gym as often as you promised, or losing weight as quickly as you planned, there’s still plenty of time to embrace some resolutions that can have a lasting impact on your smile, this year and for many years to come.

mother and daughter brushing teeth

Brush up on your brushing basics

This is a pretty obvious one, sure, and it’s likely something you’ve been told over and over again since your very first teeth came in. But it really is the most important thing you can do to keep your smile healthy and functional! We recommend you brush your teeth thoroughly three to four times each day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, aiming for at least two minutes each time.

Having an excellent oral hygiene routine is especially important when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you’re one of our braces patients, you’ll already know that maneuvering around the brackets and wires takes a little practice, and that you have to you pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and gums, making sure to carefully clean the spaces in between the wires and your teeth. If you haven’t already tried them, interdental brushes can make this a much easier job. They fit in those hard to reach spots to remove any sticky plaque and food debris you might otherwise have difficulty reaching.

If you’re currently wearing braces, here are a few reminders on how to get the best results from your dental hygiene routine:

  • use fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
  • replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
  • brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth
  • look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible, since fuzzy-or dull-looking metal can indicate poor brushing.
  • floss every night before you go to bed, taking advantage of tools like floss threaders and waterpiks if you’re having trouble getting into the tighter spaces

There are some dental hygiene basics that are necessary to follow for successful bacterial plaque removal, whether you have braces, clear aligners, or no orthodontic appliances at all. These include things like:

  • brushing at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, using 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 effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
  • flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
  • replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness (something that is especially important during this crazy flu season!)
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes

Daily brushing and flossing will help to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath, and keep your smile shining in 2018 and beyond.  

girl with floss

Don’t underestimate the importance of good food

We’re in between the temptation of holiday treats and Valentine’s Day candies lining the shelves of our supermarkets, so there’s no better time than now to review the kind of foods you should avoid while in braces versus all the foods you can dig into! If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Bennett Orthodontics using traditional metal braces, you should be steering clear of:

  • chewy foods like licorice and bagels
  • hard, crunchy foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candies
  • sticky foods like caramels, chewing gum, and gummy candies

We know that that list can sometimes feel restrictive, but there’s so much out there you can still eat, and so much that’s good for your mind, body, and mouth. These are foods anyone can benefit from, not just those in braces or clear aligners! Consider some of the following healthy, nutrient-rich foods like:

  • Milk and other dairy products that pack a delicious, calcium-filled punch to help bones and teeth stay strong and healthy.
  • Whole grain breads and pastas that are full of the kind of complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and also offer tons of nutrients to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon that are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that helps to strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
  • A wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens that contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are important in maintaining oral health.

One of the best things you can do for your smile is cut down on sugar and soft drinks! Sugar is a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates fuel the bacteria on your teeth to produce the acids that cause tooth decay to form. This is bad enough for teeth without braces, but when you add in brackets and bands, you’re giving bacteria many secret places to hide and multiply.

Soft drinks can affect both braces and aligners. Soda has both sugar and acid, a double whammy risk to tooth enamel, and it can cause unsightly decalcification if plaque that collects around the brackets isn’t removed. Small amounts of liquid seep into aligners when you take a drink, and the liquid is then held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. If the liquid contains acid, like soft drinks do, that prolonged exposure can accelerate damage to teeth.

Starting 2018 off with a smile and the support of Bennett Orthodontics

Whether you’re a past, current, or future patient, Bennett Orthodontics encourages you to start the year off right by following our simple tips for keeping your smile happy and your whole mouth healthy. We’re always here to help should you have any questions or concerns, or if you just need a little extra support sometimes. We’re hoping 2018 will be a year of healthy habits, positive changes, and beautiful smiles in Mobile, and we’re excited to share that vision with you!