Getting braces was one of the best investments my parents ever made for me. Had I known how valuable they were or what benefit they were about to bring to my life, I would have taken much better care of them. Here’s a list of 7 things every orthodontic patient should do. Your teeth will look better. Your braces will come off sooner. (Hint : These are good things!)
1. See your dentist regularly. Every 3 to 4 months while in braces. Reality check : Your teeth are not as clean as they were the day you got your braces. Even if you brush and floss regularly, you must see your dentist regularly.
2. Brush After Every Meal. Braces collect food and germs. No surprise there, but did you know it only takes 20 minutes for the bacteria in your mouth to start doing damage to your teeth after you have eaten a meal? Waiting to get home from school to brush = bad idea.
3. Floss every day. This is the tricky one but the most rewarding. Taking the time to floss every night will leave your gums fresh and healthy. There are lots of cool tools to help you get the job done. Just check out the dental aisle at your pharmacy or grocery store.
4. Avoid sugary drinks. Even fruit juices contain a lot of sugar, but sodas and sports drinks are no-brainers to avoid. Keep it simple, stick to water or brush after consuming sugary drinks.
5. Get an electric toothbrush. Truth be told, you can actually do a fine job cleaning your teeth with a manual toothbrush. But where’s the fun in that? Electric toothbrushes have built-in timers and ultrasonic cleaning mechanisms that will provide, minute-to-minute, a more thorough cleaning that your standard old toothbrush.
6. Avoid broken brackets. Let’s be perfectly honest : Our “average” patient breaks one bracket and finishes treatment on-time or early. Our “world record holders in broken brackets” experience delays in treatment, poor results, or both. Think of braces on your teeth like a cast on your arm. If you broke the cast 12 times during the course of treatment, would you be surprised if the bone didn’t heal perfectly? (Hint : it’s possible to go through treatment without a single broken bracket… in fact 100% of our patients who are dentists have never broken a single bracket.) They’re certainly setting the bar high!
7. Wear your retainer. The best way to say “thank you” to your parents is to wear your retainer when you’re done with treatment. Teeth shift and you have to use them for the rest of your life. When they shift, your retainer will prevent them from going crooked and prevent you from wearing braces again.