We’ve all heard the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work.” Yet what you might not realize is that this notion applies not only to the playing field, classroom and corporate environment – it’s also an essential component of orthodontic treatment.
Whether your treatment entails braces or Invisalign, the patient is the star of the show and the quarterback of the winning team – they play a critical role in the treatment’s success (or failure). Ultimately, patient cooperation is the key to unlock the beautiful smile you deserve!
Here’s a Few Ways You (or Your Child) Can Be a Team Player in the Process:
- Maintain good oral health by brushing 3-4 times per day (morning, night and after eating) for 3-4 minutes using an electric or traditional soft toothbrush. It’s vital to brush above, below and between braces – concentrating on the gumline. Brush gently and thoroughly in a circular motion to remove all food and plaque (aggressive brushing can damage the gum tissue).
- Aside from brushing, it’s essential to floss at least once per day to maintain optimal oral hygiene. This is the only way to completely clean between the teeth and under the gums.
- Remember, the braces (or aligners) don’t correct your bite, your rubber bands do. If these are prescribed you, it’s important to wear them exactly as recommended. Your bite cannot be corrected without them. A great way to do this is to set an alert on your phone to help you remember to change them regularly.
- Make it a habit to remove your rubber bands and place them on the side of your plate when you eat. This helps you remember to change them when you’ve finished your meal.
- Put your rubber bands anywhere and everywhere you might be – in your purse, backpack, gym bag or car so they’re always easily accessible.
- If you’re an Invisalign patient, it’s imperative to wear your aligners 21-22 hours per day. Patients who fail to cooperate with this maintenance routine don’t achieve the expected and desired results or treatment may take longer than projected.
- Schedule appointments at the intervals recommended by your orthodontist to ensure you’re successfully on track towards your perfect smile. Additionally, arrive at your appointments as prescribed (with clean teeth and appliances).
- Wear your retainers as instructed to ensure the teeth don’t shift back to their original positions.
As a parent, you can make the process of maintaining braces, aligners and rubber bands fun and engaging for your child (instead of a chore!) by offering incentives – e.g. give your child stickers, extra TV time/playtime/video gaming time, their choice of where to go for dinner, etc. for wearing and changing their rubber bands regularly. Find what uniquely motivates and inspires your child, and hold them accountable in the journey to their beautiful smile.
In our experience, patients who are cooperative and committed to diligently doing their part in between orthodontic visits finish treatment up to six months earlier than average. Conversely, lack of patient cooperation can result in wearing braces for up to a year (or more) longer than anticipated, or additional treatment may be needed to adequately achieve our objectives (such as bite correction). What’s more, if teeth aren’t cleaned properly during treatment, they could become permanently damaged, producing unsightly scars on the enamel (otherwise known as decalcification).
The proof is in the pudding – together, we can keep your teeth healthy and your orthodontic treatment on track.