Maintaining Your Smile After Orthodontic Treatment

At Sandifer Orthodontics, we aim to help you get a stunning smile you want to show off for years. Our expert team has helped patients of all ages achieve straighter teeth and improved oral health, but even the best results won’t last forever without a bit of help. Thankfully we have some helpful tips for maintaining your smile after orthodontic treatment! 

From consistent oral hygiene to wearing your retainer, you play a key role in keeping your newly-straightened smile healthy after orthodontic treatment. Whether you’re a current patient in our Jackson or Brandon office or just starting to consider orthodontics, it’s essential to understand what to expect when you complete treatment. Keep reading to learn more.

Keep A Consistent Oral Hygiene Routine

The most important advice we can give for maintaining your new smile is simple: get into the habit of caring for your teeth! This will help prevent plaque build-up and keep your smile healthy.

These basic oral health guidelines will help you maintain clean teeth and a healthy mouth:  

  • Brush after every meal and snack. 
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush across every surface of every tooth to effectively remove bacteria and debris.
  • If you can’t brush right away, rinse with water to help dislodge any stray food particles.
  • Floss every night before bed to remove bacteria and any food that accumulates throughout the day. Use tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or other illness.
  • Use antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health.

Wear Your Retainer

The most important step in maintaining your new smile is wearing your retainer. Your teeth will never forget their original place in your mouth—once the pressure that braces and aligners provide is gone, they’ll start shifting back towards those spaces. This is why it’s so important to wear your retainer exactly as Dr. Sandifer directs!

If you don’t wear your retainer, it won’t be able to help your teeth stabilize in their new positions, and this will undo your progress over time. Relapse can happen faster than you’d think, so be sure to stick to the guidelines we give you after treatment.

Maintaining Your Smile After Orthodontic Treatment

Keep Your Retainer Clean

Keeping your retainer clean and in good condition is just as important as wearing it daily. Your retainer is in your mouth often. That means it’s constantly exposed to all the bacteria, plaque, and food debris hanging around there! Dr. Sandifer recommends cleaning your retainers whenever you brush your teeth using a gentle soap or denture cleaner (toothpaste can make them cloudy over time). 

Don’t forget to keep your retainer case clean too! You can wash your case with warm soapy water or spray with disinfectant followed by a rinse with warm water. 

Of course, life happens, and there will be days you forget. This isn’t a big deal as long as it only happens occasionally, but you should be able to recognize when your retainer is overdue for a cleaning! These signs include a bad taste or smell, a cloudy appearance, or white spots.

Never Miss A Check-Up

Follow-up visits during the first year after treatment are essential to maintaining your smile. These appointments tend to be pretty quick, so you’ll be in and out in a breeze, but they’re essential for Dr. Sandifer to ensure your new smile stays in place. Make sure to bring your retainers for your follow up visits so that Dr. Sandifer can evaluate the fit to make sure that you are doing a good job in caring for your retainers. 

Be sure to visit your regular dentist after treatment, too! Routine visits to the dentist throughout the year can help prevent oral disease and may catch existing issues in the early stages. Plan to see your dentist every six months to monitor your oral health.

Always Wear A Mouthguard

It’s not unusual for athletes to experience injuries to the mouth now and then. Accidents can happen even if you’re careful, but you should always take extra precautions when playing sports. Wearing a mouthguard during sports after orthodontic treatment will protect your new smile from potential injuries. Talk to Dr. Sandifer to discuss what type of mouthguard will best fit your specific needs. 

Keep Smile Essentials with You On-the-Go

We encourage you to stay prepared as you did during treatment with an on-the-go care kit. This will help you be ready for anything that comes your way and keeps your smile shining. Here are a few items to keep in your kit:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • a small tube of fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss or ortho picks
  • a small cup for rinsing with water
  • lip balm

Throw this bag in your backpack or purse to handle any issues when you’re out and about to keep your newly-straightened smile in tip-top shape.

Maintain A Healthy Diet

So much of your health is connected to your diet. Proper nutrients can boost your teeth’s overall health, but eating certain foods can either help or harm your teeth. 

Fresh fruits and vegetables can help remove plaque build-up as you bite into them and chew, and are more difficult for bacteria to break down since they don’t contain carbohydrates, fats, oils, and sugars. Eating a lot of sugary foods feeds this bacteria that lead to gum disease, while acidic food and drinks can prematurely destroy your tooth’s protective enamel coating.

Avoid Tobacco Use

Tobacco use can cause bad breath, stain your teeth and tongue, and cause issues with your oral health. It can cause slow healing from tooth extraction or other oral surgery and even make correcting some cosmetic dental concerns more difficult. Tobacco products also significantly increase your risk of gum disease and oral cancers. And even on an aesthetic level, tobacco can stain your teeth and erode their appearance. 

Maintaining Your Smile After Orthodontic Treatment

Keep Your Smile In Shape with Sandifer Orthodontics

Our team at Sandifer Orthodontics wants to help you maintain your newly straightened smile for life. These tips for maintaining your smile after orthodontic treatment are a great place to start. If you have any additional questions, we’re always happy to help!

If you’re just starting your orthodontic journey, Dr. Sandifer can help you get the smile of your dreams at any age. Schedule an initial consultation in our Jackson or Brandon office to learn more about keeping your smile healthy and how our team of experts can help you. We look forward to helping you along your dental journey!