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.

The Things We Take for Granted | 10 Day Challenge

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm not sure I told all of you our latest news. We have an exchange student living with us. He arrived last week from Sweden and he'll be here for about eight months. On his second day here, he asked for a glass to get a drink of water. I handed it to him, he went to the sink and then paused.

"Is it safe to drink from here?"

I didn't think at all before I replied, "of course."

Like most Europeans, our student is very well traveled. He told me stories of places he's visited where it's not okay to drink the water.

And then I felt about two inches tall.

I've never been out of the United States let alone to another country. His question about our water and my really snooty reply was a complete smack in the face about just how narrow my world view is and how much I take for granted as an American.

Here are some facts I didn't know:
-780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people.

-An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.

-In just one day, 200 million work hours are consumed by women collecting water for their families. This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Walmart, United Parcel Service, McDonald's, IBM, Target, and Kroger.

-Malnutrition, due to dirty water, inadequate sanitation, and hygiene, is estimated to lead to death in an additional 2,350 children under the age of five each day. 

I have complained many times about how long it takes to fill our jacuzzi bathtub. Now I feel ashamed. I can't change my past behavior but I can be more conscious going forward.

Today is the first day of the 10 Day Challenge to raise awareness about the global water crisis and enough funds to provide clean water to 100 people to lat their entire lives. Yes, you read that correctly. A $25 donation will ensure that one person will always have access to safe, clean water. I made a donation. Will you please consider supporting this important and worthy cause, too?

If you want to get involved you have several options:

*Make a donation and help make their $2500 goal
*Follow on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook
*Start your own fundraising project
*Buy a CamelBak reusable water bottle and $10 of your purchase will support
The Mission List

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