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Summer is a time for relaxation, travel and fun activities, but it’s essential to remember that your orthodontic care doesn’t take a vacation just because you do. Whether you are enjoying a home-based staycation, operating at a relaxed pace or traveling abroad, maintaining your braces, aligners and other orthodontic appliances needs to remain a priority. Here are some practical tips and tricks to keep your smile healthy and bright, no matter where your summer adventures take you.

1. Brushing Techniques: The Foundation of Oral Hygiene

Proper brushing is crucial for everyone but especially important for those with orthodontic appliances. Here’s how to do it proactively:

  • For Braces: Combine using a soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste. Tip the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline and gently brush above, below, and on each bracket. Pay extra attention to areas around wires and brackets where stray bits of food particles and plaque tend to accumulate.
  • For Aligners: Remove your aligners before brushing. Brush your teeth thoroughly, including the fronts, backs and chewing surfaces. Clean your aligners with a separate toothbrush and clear, unscented antibacterial soap or special aligner cleaning solutions.

2. Flossing: Reaching the Tough Spots

Flossing can be a bit challenging with braces, but it’s vital for removing food particles and preventing gum disease.

  • For Braces: Use floss threaders or orthodontic floss to navigate around wires. Another option is experimenting with interdental brushes or water flossers to clean between teeth and around brackets. The goal is to find what will make you want to floss so you will do it consistently.
  • For Aligners: Flossing is straightforward. Simply remove your aligners and floss as you normally would, ensuring you reach between all teeth and along the gumline.

3. Choosing the Right Cleaning Products

Selecting appropriate cleaning products can make a significant difference in maintaining your orthodontic appliances:

  • Toothpaste: Opt for fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen enamel and prevent decay. Avoid whitening toothpaste as it can cause uneven coloring around braces brackets.
  • Toothbrush: Electric toothbrushes can be particularly effective for braces, as they provide more thorough cleaning and do most of the work for you. You will want to replace your toothbrush (or brush head) every three months as the bristles lose their shape and effectiveness.
  • Mouthwash: Did you know that an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash helps lessen plaque while strengthening vital tooth enamel? Just be sure to use it after brushing and flossing for an added layer of protection.

4. On the Go Cleaning: Portable Solutions

Traveling or enjoying outdoor activities doesn’t mean neglecting your orthodontic care. Here are some portable cleaning solutions:

  • Travel Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Keep a compact toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in your bag for quick cleaning after meals wherever you go.
  • Orthodontic Wax: Carry orthodontic wax to address any discomfort from brackets or wires.
  • Aligner Cleaning Crystals: For aligner wearers, consider carrying aligner cleaning crystals or portable cleaning tablets to soak them in while you are on the go.

5. Regular Check-Ups: Staying on Track

Even during summer, you don’t want to skip your orthodontic appointments. Regular check-ups ensure your appliances stay in great condition and your treatment is progressing as planned. If you are traveling, schedule your appointments around your trips to stay on track with your treatment.

6. Healthy Eating Habits: Protecting Your Appliances

Be mindful of what you eat. Remember to take your aligners out when eating and stay away from hard, sticky or chewy foods that can wreak havoc on your braces–like nuts, caramel, gum, popcorn and hard candies. Avoid crunchy foods like chips and pretzels, tough meats like steak or beef jerky, raw vegetables like carrots and celery, and crusty breads like bagels or pizza crust. Opt for soft, easy-to-chew foods that won’t harm your appliances or compromise your oral hygiene.

Enjoy Your Summer Safely

Maintaining your orthodontic appliances during summer is essential for a healthy smile. By following these cleaning tips and staying diligent with your oral hygiene practice, you can enjoy your summer activities while ensuring your orthodontic treatment remains on track. Our orthodontic team wishes you a safe and happy summer so you can keep on smiling with confidence!