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15 Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Mouth

by Erica Bauwens

In honor of national Children’s Dental Health Month, we asked local orthodontists for their expert tips on protecting your teeth through any form of orthodontics 1 “One of the myths of the past is that you only have to wear your retainers for a couple years. That’s one of the reasons that so many adult patients can end up back in braces or Invisalign. Retainers are [for a] lifetime and you should wear them every night to bed.”
Dr. Ross Segal, Segal and Iyer Orthodontics

2 “You can end up with white stains on your teeth if you don’t clean [braces] properly. They’re caused by leaving food debris behind. If they stay there for long periods of time then more and more bacteria is made and those lead to cavities.” Dr.
Richard Kaye, Morrone and Kaye Orthodontics

3 “Wearing your appliances and elastics (rubber bands) properly, keeping teeth and gums healthy and avoiding the hard, sticky and chewy foods that break your hardware will get you there quickest.”
Dr. Lance Articolo, Articolo Orthodontics

4 “Braces are just harder to clean. Mechanical toothbrushes are more efficient than our hands ever will be. Look into Sonicare brushes and Interplak, brands with good reputations. There’s [also] a new toothpaste called Plaque HD that goes on green, and until you see all the green the plaque isn’t gone. Even if you used it once a month you can become more aware of the tough spots that you’re missing in normal brushing.”
Dr. Carlyn Phucas, Carlyn Phucas Orthodontics

5 “You should steer clear of hard, crunchy, gooey and sticky foods. Regardless of how tempting that sticky candy bar or hard crusted bread may be, refrain from eating these types of foods that can harm your braces.”
Dr. Sarkis Euksuzian, Euksuzian Orthodontics

6 “Invisalign helps avoid the problem of breakage or hygiene issues, but you have to make sure you follow the protocol. You have to keep the trays in at all times except for when you’re eating or cleaning. That counts for about 22 hours of a 24-hour day.”
Dr. Richard Kaye

7 “Always carry a bottle of water around. After you’ve eaten—especially with Invisalign, and if you eat something sugary—take a swig from your bottle of water and swish it around. That way you can keep your mouth rinsed out and clean at all times.”
Dr. Ross Segal

8 “Most people go ahead and use a soft toothbrush and soft soap for their Invisalign. They make cleaning tablets that we also give out. They are only worn for about a two-week time period so there shouldn’t be too many issues, but most people clean or soak them at least once a day.”
Dr. Richard Kaye

9 “The recommended age to see us is 7 years old. Although we hardly ever treat comprehensively at this age, oftentimes we will recognize problems early and may intervene with minimally invasive therapy.”
Dr. Lance Articolo

10 “Parents should have the kids screened between the age of 7 or 8. There are so many things that can be prevented or intercepted, so that it doesn’t become a mess or a severe problem. From there we can decide when to come see us again and what to watch.”
Dr. Carlyn Phucas

11 “Now more than ever—while the patient is in braces—they need to keep up with those regular [dental] appointments. You need to get regular cleanings from a regular dentist to avoid cavities around the braces.”
Dr. Ross Segal

12 “With orthodontics visiting the dentist three times a year is wonderful. Braces collect more plaque and are harder to clean, so having those three cleanings can make the difference.”
Dr. Carlyn Phucas

13 “Once you have appliances on—especially for braces—you should try to brush more than twice a day, ideally a third time after you come home from school.”
Dr. Ross Segal

14 “Your teeth and bones don’t stop changing after your braces come off. ... The most significant changes can occur within the first year as it takes about nine months for your teeth, gums and bones to get ‘used’ to this new position. Retainers are critical to wear for maintaining your new, beautiful smile.”
Dr. Lance Articolo

15 “We know how excited you’ll be once we remove your braces, but keep in mind that your treatment isn’t over yet: now begins the retention phase. In this phase of treatment, we’ll fit you with a retainer. This is an oral appliance designed to keep your teeth in their new, ideal positions.”
Dr. Sarkis Euksuzian

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 12 (February, 2016).
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