Our goal is not only to provide a beautiful and functional smile for our patients, but also to promote oral health through excellent preventive care. The purpose of this blog entry is to inform our our patient and the parents of our patients of our protocols for proper care as well as our decalcification prevention program.
A special fluoride-releasing sealant is applied to the tooth surface at the time of appliance placement. This sealant is a light-cured agent that will completely set without an oxygen-inhibited layer. This creates a smooth, hard surface that prevents leakage, helps in the protection of the enamel by aiding in the prevention of decalcification. When indicated, we also periodically place a fluoride varnish to inhibit bacterial growth and decalcification.
Of course, good oral hygiene is required to maintain oral health. We give our patients instructions in tooth brushing, flossing and the need for a proper diet. When appropriate we also employ a prescription Fluoridex toothpaste, initially used three times a day for the first 3 months, then used at least once per day throughout their active treatment and for the first year in retainers. We feel this one-step prescription-strength fluoride application/toothpaste product is an excellent adjunct to the patient oral hygiene protocol. In addition, we also encourage the use of other auxiliary oral hygiene tools such as Waterpiks and electric toothbrushes.
We continue to assess our child and adolescent patient’s oral hygiene at each appointment on an ongoing basis. If a patient presents with good oral care, healthy gums free of gingivitis and no visible plaque or debris, they are rewarded with wooden nickels to use toward the “purchase” of raffle tickets for entry in our bi-monthly drawing for prizes. We feel that this positive reward system serves as a reminder to the patient of the importance of proper oral hygiene.
Our patients continue to see their general dentist on a routine basis throughout their orthodontic treatment. Should their oral hygiene become a challenge, we encourage them to increase their recall intervals to a three or four month rotation. Decalcification “white spot” lesions are the single most common negative side effect of orthodontic treatment in our younger patients and we continue to take this problem very seriously.