How to take care of your teeth

The benefits of a beautiful smile go well beyond surface-level appearances: the health of your teeth and mouth is central to your overall well-being. Taking care of your smile can be simple, but it does take commitment, and when you factor braces or aligners into the equation, the importance of proper care becomes even greater. Keeping your teeth clean can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your orthodontic treatment, in addition to your overall health.

If you’re currently receiving orthodontic treatment or if you’re interested in investing in the health of your teeth, take this pop quiz to test your smile knowledge. Don’t worry—you won’t lose points for wrong answers, but your teeth and mouth will thank you for each one you can answer correctly!

How many times a day should you brush and floss your teeth?

If you don’t have braces or clear aligners, brushing twice a day is ideal. However, if you have braces or aligners, you’ll want to up your brushing game to at least three times a day. And while it can be a challenge to floss with braces, it’s still important to do so daily. You can use an orthodontic flosser or floss threader to make flossing with braces easier.

When is it best to brush your teeth?

At a minimum, you should brush your teeth in the morning and before bed. When you brush after meals, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes—the acidity of certain foods and drinks can weaken tooth enamel, so brushing right away can damage teeth.

However, when you have braces or aligners, you should brush after every meal. Braces are excellent food traps, and if they aren’t thoroughly cleaned after eating, you can develop white spots, tooth decay, and gum disease. If you have aligners, like Invisalign®, keeping your teeth and aligners clean ensures that they keep working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

What kind of toothbrush should you use?

A brush that’s too firm can hurt your gums, especially when combined with overly exuberant and forceful brushing. It’s best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush held at a 45-degree angle and moved in gentle circular patterns.

With braces, you might also add in a special toothbrush—a small, interdental toothbrush that can fit between brackets and wires and loosen any lingering food before brushing. Rinsing with water before brushing can help with this, too!

Electric toothbrushes are always a good option—whether you’re in the process of straightening your teeth or not—but they are especially effective for those with braces.

How often should you replace your toothbrush?

The American Dental Association recommends getting a new toothbrush as soon as the ends start to look frayed—on average, every three to four months. With the additional wear and tear of cleaning bracketed teeth or a set of aligners, those receiving orthodontic treatment should be vigilant and expect to change toothbrushes even more frequently.

What else should be brushed besides teeth?

Your tongue! Plaque can accumulate on your tongue in addition to your teeth, and a clean tongue is essential to your overall oral health. Your toothbrush can function as a tongue brush, or you can find a specially designed tongue scraper, which should be moved from back to front and rinsed between each scrape.

How often should you visit the dentist and orthodontist?

Biannual visits with your general dentist are sufficient for most people—unless you have pressing concerns or conditions that require more frequent care.

As for the orthodontist, you don’t need a doctor’s referral to make your first appointment. Once you’re receiving treatment, you can expect to visit your orthodontist every 4-10 weeks depending on your treatment plan and orthodontic appliances.

What else can my orthodontist help me with?

Your orthodontist is here to help with more than simply straightening your teeth or aligning your bite. Petty & Bielik Orthodontics is no different—we are your partner in your oral health journey. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, come and see us.

Schedule a free orthodontic consultation in Oak Lawn, IL, today!