Patients with any type of orthodontic treatment should clean their teeth multiple times a day. Sometimes you’re on the go and need to freshen up, but you can easily be prepared for these situations by stashing portable items in a backpack, purse, school locker, or briefcase. By taking care of your teeth, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy and beautiful smile when treatment is over.
Here are six must-haves for cleaning teeth on the go:
It’s your friend, and it’s also readily available at bathroom sinks. After eating, or after drinking a sugary and/or acidic beverage, if you realize your toothbrush is nowhere to be found, give your mouth a thorough rinse with plain water. Swish it around to get rid of food particles or traces of beverages. Water even helps to decrease the decay-causing acidity of your mouth. A water rinse is not as good as brushing, but it’s much better than allowing materials to remain on, and in between, teeth.
2. A toothbrush
Even without toothpaste, brushing removes food and plaque and will help you keep your teeth healthy. A travel toothbrush takes up about half the space of a regular toothbrush, and it’s great to have one easily accessible.
3. An interproximal brush
This is a remarkable little tool. Use it to get at food that’s stuck around brackets, between the archwire and teeth, and in between teeth. It’s also effective at attacking plaque. You may even continue using your interproximal brush even after you complete your orthodontic treatment!
Floss is also used for cleaning between teeth, the space between the archwire and the teeth, and under the gumline. If you have braces, be sure you have a floss threader and floss. That is, unless you are using “pre-threaded” floss, pre-cut to length and with an aglet tip (like a shoelace). Some brands come in single-use packets, which take up next-to-no space. People with aligners may be able to use a flosser, if that’s the tool they prefer. Minty floss also freshens your breath – what a win-win situation!
5. A mirror
A pocket mirror can be handy when you brush. A post-brush check will reveal if anything unwanted is still there. If you don’t have a mirror, use the selfie camera on your smart phone.
Travel-sized tubes are convenient and great to have in case you run into an emergency.
Consider these other “nice-to-have” items:
- Orthodontic wax – if a bracket or wire rubs a sore spot, wax quickly puts a stop to the irritation.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen – great to have on hand. Students may be required to leave these with the school nurse.
A little extra effort at home and away helps shape your new smile!