As we’ve seen mandated closures and stay-at-home orders roll out across the country, many orthodontic patients have found themselves worrying about how this may affect their current treatment plan. If you’re part of the Brilliant Smiles Orthodontics family and have been feeling confused or upset about this interruption to your orthodontic journey, we’re here for you!
Although our office is temporarily closed, our team is still able to meet your needs through virtual visits, phone calls, texts, and email. Not only that, but there are actually many things you can do from home to maintain your treatment during this time! Let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can keep your smile healthy and your appliance safe until we’re able to resume regular appointments in the office.
Pay attention to what you’re eating
Food restrictions can be frustrating if you’re a braces patient, but they’re an important part of protecting both your teeth and your appliance. Crunchy and chewy foods can really mess up your braces by bending the brackets or warping the wires, and can also get stuck in all the nooks and crannies they create, giving plaque and bacteria a place to grow. Through 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 dental hygiene should be a priority for everyone, it’s essential for active orthodontic patients. If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums during treatment, you could lengthen the amount of time you need to be in braces or aligners. You need a healthy mouth to move the 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
You might be surprised to learn that there are quite a few minor orthodontic issues you can treat from the comfort of your own 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 seem to 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, place it in a secure bag and we’ll advise you on what to do. 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 treatment progresses and your teeth begin moving towards the desired positions, you may find the 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’s supposed to be.
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. Salt water 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
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us immediately if you are experiencing a true orthodontic emergency! While our office is currently closed, Dr. Chiang is still available to meet your orthodontic needs. Our team is committed to providing you with a safe and stress-free experience, even in these unprecedented times.
School and community sports may be on hiatus at the moment, but plenty of athletes are still practicing their skills from home. Even if you’re just kicking a ball around in your backyard or hitting balls in an empty field, it’s smart to keep your mouth protected, and the easiest way to do so is by wearing a mouthguard!
Mouthguards are simple to use and very effective in preventing damage to your teeth, gums, or braces. It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth or cause tiny cuts and abrasions to your gums and cheeks, and mouthguards will cushion your lips and keep them from bumping against your teeth and braces.
Over-the-counter models are available online, and these will provide you with effective protection while meeting all your basic mouthguard needs. Dr. Chiang will also be happy to discuss an orthodontic mouthguard with you, which fits over braces and offers a customized fit for extra safety and assurance.
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. It’s still possible to break or lose an aligner, though! 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.
Brilliant Smiles Orthodontics is here for you
As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can care for your smile from home until we can open our office again! If you’re feeling nervous about any aspect of your orthodontic treatment during this time, get in touch. Whether it’s virtually, on the phone, or through a text, we’ll be happy to answer questions or address any concerns. This is a period of adjustment for all of us, but it’s our goal to keep a smile on your face, even if we have to see it through a screen right now!