Is your orthodontic treatment on hold? Was your jaw surgery canceled or postponed? Welcome to the club, that’s the case for most orthodontic patients during this 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.
In March, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended that all non-essential dental treatment be postponed. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) canceled their huge annual convention and trade show, which was to be held in early May. Most other dental conventions were canceled, and thousands of dental offices around the world closed in an effort to fight the spread of the virus. It’s a challenging time for the entire dental community –both patients and dentists alike.
Because jaw surgery is an inpatient hospital procedure, most jaw surgeries were canceled to free up equipment and staff for Coronavirus patients. This is especially disappointing and frustrating for people who had spent months finding the right surgeon, jumping through insurance hoops, and carefully planning their lives and their hopes around their surgery day.
While these problems may seem trivial in comparison to the dire health crisis around us, they ARE frustrating, nonetheless. Here are some tips to help you cope with orthodontic treatment in the time of Coronavirus.
COVID-19 Tips for People in Traditional Braces
- First of all: WASH YOUR HAND THOROUGHLY before touching your mouth or your braces. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 62% alcohol.
- Find out whether your orthodontist can provide online “telehealth” virtual treatment. If so, you can make a virtual appointment so that your orthodontist can see your teeth. While this method isn’t as thorough as an in-person visit, it can help keep you on track until your dental office opens again.
- Don’t eat hard crunchy foods that may pop off a bracket and be mindful how you chew, in general. If a bracket does pop off, call, email, or text your orthodontist for guidance. Chances are, it’s nothing to worry about in the short term. Even if the office isn’t open, there is probably a voicemail, answering service, and someone monitoring their emails.
- Keep up your oral hygiene routine. Brush and floss well. Consider getting an oral irrigator (water flosser) to keep your teeth and gums in top shape.
- Keep some dental wax on hand to cover any brackets that irritate your mouth.
- Call your dentist or orthodontist if you run out of supplies or if you have a concern. Some orthodontic offices are mailing supplies to patients, and some are open for pick-up only. Use common sense, and don’t go if you or others in your household are sick!
- If you wear elastics, call your orthodontist for guidance to ensure that you are wearing them properly. Your orthodontist may want you to continue wearing them until your next in-person appointment. If you run out of elastics, ask if your orthodontist can mail some to you, or whether you can pick them up from the office. If not, it’s OK to look online to see if you can buy some from Amazon or eBay. Just make sure that it’s the proper brand, strength, and size. Ask your orthodontist for guidance.
- NEVER double up on orthodontic elastics. Doubling up will NOT speed up your treatment; instead it will harm your teeth and cause treatment problems.
COVID-19 Tips for People in Invisalign or Clear Aligners
- First of all: WASH YOUR HAND THOROUGHLY before touching your mouth or your aligners. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 62% alcohol.
- Find out whether your orthodontist can provide online “telehealth” virtual treatment. If so, you can make a virtual appointment to ensure that you’re tracking correctly. While this method isn’t as thorough as an in-person visit, it will help keep you on track until your dental office opens again.
- Don’t stop wearing your aligners without consulting your orthodontist.
- If you have several new sets of aligners, wear them in the order prescribed. You can even stretch things out by wearing each set for an additional week or more before switching to a new one. When you reach the last set, keep wearing it until you can get back to your orthodontist or dentist.
- If you only have one set of aligners and can’t get any new sets because your orthodontist’s office is closed, continue wearing the last set. Take good care of it so that it doesn’t get damaged.
- Keep your aligners clean by soaking them daily in an antibacterial solution such as Retainer Brite.
- Don’t put your aligners on a countertop or other unsanitary surface after taking them out of your mouth. Instead, put them in a clean retainer case, or on a clean tissue or clean piece of paper towel.
- If your aligner breaks or cracks, call your orthodontist for guidance. Handle a cracked aligner gently.
- If you use Aligner Chewies, clean them in Retainer Brite after each use. You can also drop them in with your aligners when you clean them.
- If you’re on your last set or aligners and waiting on refinements, ask your orthodontist if you can wear your last tray 10 to 12 hours per day. If so, you can extend the life of that final tray until your dental office opens again.
- If you are near the end of your treatment and have no attachments, it may be possible to get a final retainer made from your last treatment scan. A retainer is stronger than an aligner, so it will last longer.
- If you have attachments on your teeth, do not attempt to remove these yourself – doing so could damage your teeth.
- If an attachment breaks, tell your orthodontist, but don’t worry. A broken attachment won’t hurt your teeth or interfere with your treatment if you continue to wear your trays as prescribed.
COVID-19 Tips for Orthodontic Retainers
- First of all: WASH YOUR HAND THOROUGHLY before touching your mouth or your retainers. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 62% alcohol.
- Keep your retainers clean by soaking them every night in an anti-bacterial solution like Retainer Brite. If your retainers contain metal solder, gently clean them with an anti-bacterial spray solution like OAP Cleaner.
- When you are not wearing your retainers, keep them in a clean retainer case. Don’t put them in a napkin, even at home – that’s the easiest way to accidentally throw them out!
- Keep your retainers away from pets that might chew and destroy them.
- Keep your retainers away from the edges of furniture or countertops where they could wind up being stepped on or lost.
- Keep your retainers out of the sun or hot places where they may melt (this is especially true for clear plastic retainers).
- If your retainer breaks, call your orthodontist or dentist. They might be able to mail a replacement to you. If not, consider using a product called Stay Tray to hold your teeth in position until you can see your orthodontist again.