Mental Health and Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene can be difficult to keep up with if you are struggling with your mental health. Some people struggle just to brush, and floss, let alone wear their aligners, elastics, and keep up with orthodontic visits. Acknowledging your struggles and communicating with your orthodontist can help maintain your oral health when you’re struggling with your mental health.

In this article, you’ll learn: image for section - blog main image

Helpful tips for hygiene

Keeping a toothbrush and floss in a cup by your bed will allow you to dry brush when hard days hit. Try to floss your upper teeth one day and the lower teeth the next day. Do your best to make a routine out of brushing and flossing, even setting a reminder on your phone to help. Even though dry brushing is not ideal, it is better than not brushing at all. Neglecting oral hygiene can result in tooth decay and gum disease. Once you are in a better mental state, try to brush with fluoride toothpaste at least once a day. image for section - ages infographic

Why talk to your orthodontist?

If you are considering orthodontic treatment but you are struggling with your mental health, it is best to wait until you are in a better mental state before starting treatment. Orthodontic appliances require cleaning and routine maintenance. Without proper care, these appliances can damage your teeth. Be open and honest with your orthodontist or orthodontic staff, sharing that you are not in a place to manage orthodontics. Then you can revisit treatment in a few months, or whenever you are feeling more capable of managing orthodontics.   If you are in active orthodontic treatment and you find yourself struggling with your mental health, it might be difficult to wear your aligners or elastics. Reach out to your orthodontist and communicate with them about your struggles so your orthodontic team can determine how to best help you.   If you are in Invisalign treatment, try to wear your aligners at night and don’t switch to a new aligner. Pausing your treatment will allow you to keep up the progress that you have made.   If you are in treatment with braces, try to avoid foods and drinks with lots of sugar. Sugar will sit on your teeth around your braces and harm your enamel. Try playing your favorite song while you brush your teeth and don’t stop brushing until the song is over.   Schedule an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as you feel ready to do so. image for section - ages infographic

When it might be best to end treatment

Since the goal of orthodontics is to improve your smile, the last thing you want is to finish treatment with cavities. If you’re unable to keep your teeth clean, your orthodontist may recommend removing your braces so that you can improve your oral hygiene. Once your hygiene improves, you can resume orthodontic treatment again.

What to do if you stopped wearing your retainers

If you have not worn your retainers for some time, try putting them in as soon as possible. If your retainers do not fit, please call your orthodontist. Teeth move throughout our lives, but you can keep them from moving further by getting retainers that fit properly. If your retainers fit but feel tight, wear them all the time for a month or so until your teeth move back to where they were before. After a month, you can usually switch to nighttime wear. Retainers keep your smile as it is, maintaining the progress you made with your orthodontic treatment.

The Takeaway

We understand that mental health struggles can pose major difficulties in daily life, including your oral health. Our goal at Garfinkle Orthodontics is to set you up for success with your orthodontic care. Being clear about your mental health struggles, whether before you start orthodontics or during your treatment, will allow our team to provide the help that you need, minimizing risks to your oral health and hopefully creating a beautiful healthy smile.

Want to learn more about the daily maintenance of orthodontics? Our team would be happy to chat!
We're conveniently located in SW Portland, serving Beaverton, the Pearl District, Lake Oswego, and surrounding areas.

Koreena is the clinical manager at Garfinkle Orthodontics, having worked on our team since 2018. Koreena has seen friends and family struggle with mental health and understands firsthand how much it can impact daily life. Koreena’s goal is to help create a positive and comfortable experience for patients through information and support.