Getting braces is practically a rite of passage. Sure, there are a lucky few who come away unscathed, but most of us enter high school with a full mouth of metal. While we might not feel super-psyched about it, braces really are a big deal when it comes to a future of bigger and brighter smiles. In an arguably short amount of time – most people wear braces for an average of two years, some as short as six months, and a small percentage for longer than 24 months (they probably prizefight on the weekends), your braces will be just another part of your past.
Although a class bully or two might mock your braces, you should know that you’re actually making a fashion statement. Braces are French. That’s right. And given how long they’ve actually been around, you could argue that braces have gone from classic to absolute vintage-grade style in near record time.
Pierre Fauchard, considered the “father of modern orthodontics,” created braces in 1728, after penning (feather-penning that is), The Surgeon Dentist. Let’s put this into perspective. Braces are approaching nearly 300 years of existence, yet many modern day braced-beauties complain of the pain associated with outfitting and tightening their braces. Kids, what do you think these procedures were like during the dawn of the 1700s?
Give the griping a rest and read on for crucial ways to care for your braces – and your teeth overall – by keeping in mind a few key tips to put your best brace face forward.
Tip One: Walk Tall, but Carry a Soft Brush
Okay, so former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt had a far catchier, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick,” shtick, but the point here is still valid. Obviously, you can’t stop brushing your teeth just because you have braces. In fact, regular brushing is arguably more crucial now, considering you have a collection of metal obstacles between your teeth and toothbrush. Actually, most dentists recommend that rather than twice day, those of us with braces should actually brush after every meal. But, any and all brushing, no matter how many meals you may or may not consume on a daily basis, should be done using a softhead toothbrush.
Softhead toothbrushes are gentle, yet effective enough to rid your braces and teeth of food that is quick to stick. Vigilant brushing helps rid both the braces and your teeth of any unwanted guests. Read: germs, which turn into plaque. Practically overnight!
Tip Two: Floss. No, Really. Floss!
Now, perhaps more than ever, you want to up your flossing game. Floss is your first line of defense when it comes to freeing the tight spaces between your teeth, and between your teeth and braces, of old food. Not to mention…germs…and plaque. Seeing a pattern yet?
But, like brushing, it’s important to use care when you floss by brandishing those threads delicately. Overaggressive floss action can compromise your braces, possibly damaging them and landing you right back in your orthodontist’s chair.
Tip Three: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Sure, this is a military strategy, but the same holds true of proper braces care. If you play sports, you should always wear a mouth guard to keep your braces and teeth safe. But, rather than rely on any run-of-the-mill mouth guard from a sporting goods’ shop or your buddy’s gym bag (gross!), ask your dentist to custom design a mouth guard that is exactly right for you. Who doesn’t love custom-designed goods and services?
Tip Four: Put That Down!
“That” is code for any foods or snacks, which are excessively sticky or crunchy in nature. So, bid a brief (it’s not forever) farewell to gummy bears, taffy (does anyone still eat taffy?), and anything belonging to the caramel family. On the flip side, nix noshing on crunchy snacks like pretzels, chips, and ice. Ice? Seriously? Who “snacks” on ice? In fact, dentists suggest that you avoid crunching on ice because doing so can weaken or damage your tooth enamel. Obviously, sticky foods have the potential to wreak havoc on your braces, making them more difficult to clean. But, crunchy foods can be just as problematic, as pieces of them can lodge between your teeth and braces, creating a bigger task when it comes to keeping everything clean and clear.
Finally, while there is no time like the present to create exceptional oral health habits with respect to your braces, remember – they won’t be a part of your mug forever. But, if you want the best looking and healthiest smile possible in the future, treat your braces as though they are attached to you like a limb. Once gone, you won’t miss them, but you’ll certainly appreciate the unbelievable smile they’ve left behind. It’s tough to assign a value to confidence, but from what we’ve seen, an assured, sparkling smile is priceless. Invest in it by paying careful attention to your braces.
Ready to get started? Call the office at 603-521-7739, and ask Karen to book an appointment for you with Dr. Chen. If Dr. Chen feels braces are a good fit (get it?), she will refer you to an orthodontist right away. Just for good measure, schedule a thorough cleaning with Nancy first and enjoy a fresh start on your braces adventure.