Brush and Floss: Braces, Invisalign® aligners, and expanders all require patients to maintain good oral hygiene. It is best to brush your teeth, fixed braces and expanders after meals and floss often. Removable aligners and retainers need to be cleaned routinely as well. At a minimum, we ask our patients to brush twice a day and floss once per day. For those who have brackets just placed, the wires are very light–and we suggest holding off on flossing until these initial wires are replaced. We strongly recommend the use of a lighted magnifying “make-up” mirror (placed in the bathroom) to be able to check teeth after brushing to make sure debris and plaque are removed. Add several minutes to your nighttime routine to make sure your teeth and appliances are sparkly clean–again, checking in the lighted magnifying mirror. Rinsing with a fluoride containing mouthwash before going to bed can help help protect against cavities and white spots on the teeth. Our patients continue to see their dentists for regular cleanings and check-ups at least every 4-6 months throughout orthodontics to preserve dental health.
Watch what you eat: Orthodontic treatment will require patients to alter their diets slightly. It is best to avoid sticky, chewy, hard foods that can break brackets (or attachments), increasing discomfort and treatment time. For some patients, dark beverages like soda, tea, or coffee can cause staining, especially for those wearing clear aligners. Taking proper care of your appliances can help to cut down on treatment time, improve comfort and avoid extra breakage repair appointments.
Follow the Instructions on Diet and Care: Always follow the exact instructions from the doctors and/or assistants to get the best results in the shortest amount of treatment time. For example, for those wearing metal or clear fixed braces, our SureSmile® wires are individually digitally custom designed by Drs. Graber and Gyllenhaal, created by 3-dimensional robotic technology and custom fit for each patient. If a patient breaks a bracket during their SureSmile treatment, we may have to rescan for new wires which can cause delays in treatment (adding minimally 2 months to treatment time). Think of going one step forward and then two steps back. Avoiding certain foods and not playing with or fidgeting with appliances keeps treatment plans on track and sometimes, even ahead of schedule. And of course…wear rubber bands and any removable appliances as we ask!!
Keep them Safe: It can be easy to misplace retainers or aligners when they are not being worn or properly stored in their cases. Always keep a case with you in a backpack, briefcase, or purse. Far too often, we hear of a patient placing a retainer or aligner in a napkin and accidentally throwing it out with the trash! If you have pets, it is best to store any cases up high and out of reach. The scent and aligner/retainer material including the case may appear to them as a chew toy. Use the case and keep them safe.
Protect your Appliances: If you play an active sport, it is best to wear a mouthguard during practices and games. Orthodontic braces are primarily intended to move teeth and are not necessarily intended to protect them from trauma. We offer complimentary mouth guards to our patients at both our Vernon Hills and Glenview offices. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are NOT designed for use on orthodontic patients; they do not accommodate for the movement of teeth and can break off brackets! Ask us about a mouthguard for contact sports.
Communicate: Our Graber Orthodontics team of doctors and assistants are always available to answer any questions you may have. If you feel like you have a broken bracket, having trouble turning your expander, or your aligners are not seating call our office to ask for help and/or schedule an appointment, hopefully within a week so as not to delay treatment. Even if you have a scheduled visit coming up, call so we may add time to your currently scheduled appointment to hopefully be able to repair any damaged orthodontic appliances. We are here for you!
Smile: Smiling releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy! Taking pictures often can help you to track your progress and see how your smile is changing over the time of your orthodontic treatment!