Adult Braces: My Advice for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Monday, October 8, 2012

This is first in a series of sponsored posts for The Motherhood's SweetSmart campaign.

I'm not going to lie, having braces as an adult was a terrible experience. Not because of anything my orthodontist did, but because as adults, our mouths are pretty resistant to change. It took a lot of maneuvering to get my teeth straight. Now that the braces are off, I wish I could say I'm finished thinking about my teeth, but I'm not. You know that saying "the disease is worse than the cure?" I've been going through something like that ever since my braces came off.

In order for the orthodontist to have enough room to get my mouth in line, I had to have eight teeth pulled including my wisdom teeth. Now, even though my teeth are touching one another on top, there are really big spaces at my gumline and they're causing me huge problems.

My 'before' teeth
Had I known, I would have asked my orthodontist what problems I might expect after my braces were off. I would have asked if there was anything I could do before my braces were even put on that would help with the aftercare. Based on what is happening to me now, my biggest advice for anyone getting braces is to make sure your gums are as healthy as possible before the braces go on. Had I known this, it might have saved me some of the pain I'm having now.

The spaces and pockets along my gumline are larger than they were before my braces went on and they're especially deep around the back molars where the anchor band was. Nothing I'm doing now seems to be helping them return to a completely healthy state, though the dentist assures me the areas aren't getting any worse. Still, if I could go back in time six months before my braces went on, here are four things I would do religiously:

Floss every day
This seems like a no brainer, but I hated flossing so I rarely ever did. My teeth were so crowded together it was really hard for me to get the floss to pass through. Now, the extra space means I have to triple up on the string of floss to have even a hope of getting any of the trapped food to come out.

Brush three times a day
Even if I had to use a manual toothbrush while I was out, more brushing would mean less opportunity for trapped food and plaque buildup.Even the disposable toothbrushes are better than nothing.

Buy a cordless Waterpik
I don't know about you, but sometimes the only way I get things done is by multi-tasking. Brushing my teeth in the shower is a pretty common occurrence. I think I would use this system more often if I had the option of using it in the shower. Plus? No food bits in the sink. Yuck.

Combine mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide
This goes along with the Waterpik. My hygienist told me to do this. When I do remember to use the Waterpik, I add a full cap of mouthwash and about two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. The mouthwash is for freshening and the peroxide is for the germs.

My new smile
Who knows if this would have helped me, but it definitely would have given me a fighting chance at having completely healthy gums and put me a bit ahead of the game whereas now I've fallen way behind. I thought that getting my braces off would mean a return to normal dental habits but I'm spending just as much time at the dentist's office as when I had them on. More importantly, I'm still spending a lot of money on special cleanings and extra exams. If you know braces are in your future, do yourself a favor and make your gum health a top priority.

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood. I received products from Johnson and Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNeil PPC as part of the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Challenge.
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