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There’s no way around it. Flossing with braces is a pain. It’s a chore. It’s not fun. But I gotta do it.

At first I used the floss threader that my orthodontist gave me. I got pretty good with it. Now, I maneuver the floss without a threader, and it goes much faster. What works best for me:

Unfortunately, at the very back top molars, the angle makes it impossible for me to thread the floss under the archwire without the threader. I’m resigned to this, though sometimes I skimp and skip it. Do as I say, not as I do!

I’ve never flossed as much as I have since getting my braces; this is no doubt a boon to my dental health… as long as I keep it up after I get the braces off, too. Which will be in 5 months! I’m due for a month 7 report tomorrow!

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Recently I went on a 5-day mini-vacation; I traveled out of town by plane and got out of my routine (such as it is.)

What did this mean for my braces?

  • Braces travel pack: I had to augment my travel pack, which I usually carry with me*, with a little bottle of fluoride rinse. The bottle at 2.06 fl. oz. is a tiny bit bigger than regulation size, but I’ve never had a problem getting it past security.

travelpackRinse

  • Kept forgetting to put on my rubber bands. That’s the thing about getting out of a routine, which includes — usually when I travel — eating out a lot more than I usually do. But hey, it’s a little vacation, and at least I hadn’t forgotten the rubber bands. Now that is key, because you can buy everything else at pharmacies; I don’t think you can get Chipmunk elastics that easily. 😉

* My regular braces travel pack includes:

Healthy Options series continues

Background: A while back I reviewed the Spearmint flavored Tom’s of Maine Natural Anticavity Flouride Mouthwash (Rinse). And I HATED it. I liked the Natural Dentist Flouride Rinse Berry Blast better, but wanted to try the Lemon-Lime flavored Tom’s of Maine product.

Healthy Option goal: As always, my goal was to find as healthy an option as possible. In this case, a product with the required fluoride, and minimal additional artificial ingredients. Also, from a sustainability perspective, if I can find it at the store I can walk to, better than having to get into my car to pick it up.

Review: Tom’s of Maine Natural Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash for a Dry Mouth (Lemon-Lime)

I was interested in this because of two things:

  1. Dry Mouth. This is definitely a problem for braces wearers. And I’ve experienced this off and on, especially at the beginning when I had the braces put on, but also when I had new brackets added. Basically, when my mouth is irritated. So a product that also helped with that, would be welcome.
  2. Lemon-Lime. I know first-hand how comforting a bit of lemon juice can be, so I wanted to check out how this product tastes and works.

On both counts, this product fared well. The taste is not great, but acceptable, and less sweet than the Natural Dentist Berry Blast-flavored flouride rinse. I usually rinse with this before going to sleep, and have never been bothered by the taste as the “last taste” in my mouth.

So, this is now my preferred flouride rinse. It has the advantage (over the less well-distributed Natural Dentist product) of being easy to get, at Walgreen’s, as well.

  • Active Ingredient: Sodium Fluoride (0.0442%). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) Water, Xylitol, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Poloxamer 407, Monosodium Phosphate, Chamomile Glycerite, Green Tea Glycerite, Natural Flavor, Benzoic Acid.
  • Flavors: lemon-lime for dry mouth (reviewed), peppermint and spearmint
  • Size: 1 pint. Also available in 2.06 oz, which you can carry onto planes.
  • Cost: $5.99 (at Walgreen’s); also available online

This is one of several reviews of healthy option products for this braces adventure. Read others on the Healthy Options.

Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Flat Floss

Background: I’ve been using Desert Essence Dental Tape (which I reviewed here) and was happy with it. However, when I finished it, I decided to try a more readily-available option since I didn’t want to have to wait until I got to Rainbow Grocery or Elephant Pharmacy.

Healthy Option goal: To find a reasonably-priced option that is as healthy and sustainable as the Dessert Essence product, and works as well. The two important health/sustainability elements are:

  1. The filament. Looks like the options are primarily plastic (PTFE or teflon, or polyethethelene), nylon (Tom’s of Maine’s floss) and natural fibers. The only natural fiber I’ve been able to find in my brief research is silk, from Radius.
  2. The wax coating. Some brands have natural waxes like jojoba, beeswax or carnuba. (Crest Glide uses natural bee’s wax.)

Review: Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Flat Floss (Spearmint)

I wrote to Tom’s to learn about the nylon material. I was told that it’s stronger than teflon (which is used in other products), but didn’t get an answer about it’s healthfulness.

That same customer service person said that it’s a better floss because it doesn’t fray. I disagree. Since I’ve been threading it under my braces, it’s easier to notice the fraying at the end of the floss, and it also frays when the floss gets caught on a bracket.

I do not recommend this as a floss for braces wearers, since there are better options out there. (Try Desert Essence Dental Tape.)

But, I can’t stand to waste anything, and this Tom’s floss IS usable, so I’ll finish up the box. AND, it’s available at Walgreen’s, so it’s easy to find in a pinch.

  • Flat floss
  • Natural waxes
  • Nylon filaments
  • 32 Yds
  • Cost: About $3.00 (Walgreen’s)

Healthy Options series continues

Background: I’m out of town for a few days, and didn’t want to check my luggage just for the sake of carrying my big bottle of The Natural Dentist Fluoride Rinse Berry Blast, so after I landed, I walked over to a Walgreen’s to see what I could find.

Healthy Option goal: As always, my goal was to find as healthy an option as possible. In this case, a product with the required fluoride, and minimal additional artificial ingredients. And if possible, in a small size.

Review: Tom’s of Maine Natural Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash (Spearmint)

I had high hopes for this product because a) Tom’s of Maine makes good products that I’ve liked and is a good company, committed to health and sustainability and b) because it’s an easily accessible option–it’s on sale at Walgreen’s in Chicago, after all!

Alas, I have enough discomfort with the braces, I don’t need more. This rinse STINGS like crazy. I read on a review that it’s because of the witch hazel that’s used instead of alcohol. Oy! I guess it’s a good option for people who think the stinging means it’s working (like mouthwash), but I’m nostalgic for my gentle if sweet-tasting Natural Dentist rinse.

There is a Lemon-Lime flavor for dry mouth, which might be better; maybe I’ll try it when I’m ready for a new bottle. For now, I’m going to return to my Natural Dentist rinse, as soon as I get home.

  • Active Ingredients: Sodium Fluroride 0.0442% (Anticavity). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Witch Hazel Water (Hamamelis virginiana), Aloe Vera Leaf Juice (Aloe barbadensis), Xylitol, Poloxamer 407, Monosodium Phosphate, Spearmint Leaf Oil (Mentha viridis), Green Tea Glycerite, Chamomile Glycerite, Benzoic Acid, Menthol
  • Flavors: spearmint (reviewed), peppermint and lemon-lime for dry mouth
  • Size: 1 pint. Also available in 2.06 oz, which you can carry onto planes.
  • Cost: $5.99 (at Walgreen’s); also available online

Healthy Options series continues

Background: Fluoride rinse is one of the special requirements for dental care while wearing braces. You’re supposed to use it every day. There are a bunch on the market; many with flavors to appeal to kids. The sample I got at the orthodontist was from ACT, bubble gum flavor. Yuck. (Active Ingredient: Sodium Fluoride (0.05%)(Fluoride Ion 0.0226%). Inactive Ingredients: Cetylpyridinium Chloride, D&C Red No. 33, Dibasic Sodium Phosphate, Edetate Calcium Disodium, Flavors, Monobasic Sodium Phosphate, Poloxamer 407, Polysorbate 80, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Saccharin, Sorbitol and Water.)

Healthy Option goal: To find an option that has the required fluoride, and minimal additional artificial ingredients.

natural dentist fluoride rinseMy pick (for now): The Natural Dentist Fluoride Rinse Berry Blast

I thought the bubble gum was bad. The flavor of this one is almost worse because of the concentrated fruit flavor. However, it claims not to have alcohol, artificial sweeteners, dyes, or harsh chemicals, so I’m sticking with it.

  • Contains xylitol, a naturally occurring substance derived from birch tree pulp that has been clinically proven to help fight cavities. Xylitol’s antimicrobial properties also protect teeth from the bacteria that cause the buildup of dental plaque.
  • No alcohol, artificial color or synthetic perfumes
  • Full list of ingredients here
  • flavor: Berry Blast (only flavor available)
  • 16 oz.
  • Cost: $13.39 (Whole Foods special ordered it for me); also available online

This is my first installment of reviews of healthy option products for this braces adventure. I’m listing these on the Healthy Options page as well.

Background: I’ve been using Crest Glide or some similar “tape”-style floss, because it’s easier to use and doesn’t shred between my tightly-aligned teeth.

Healthy Option goal: To find a reasonably-priced option that is more healthy and sustainable, and works as well as what I’ve been using so far. The two important health/sustainability elements are:

  1. The filament. Looks like the options are primarily plastic (PTFE or teflon, or polyethethelene), nylon (Tom’s of Maine’s floss) and natural fibers. The only natural fiber I’ve been able to find in my brief research is silk, from Radius. I’m still looking for info on relative health safety. The toxicity of teflon on cooking pans has been tested, but hopefully your mouth won’t get that hot for that long.
  2. The wax coating. Some brands have natural waxes like jojoba, beeswax or carnuba. (Crest Glide uses natural bee’s wax.)

My pick (for now): Desert Essence Dental Tape

It’s not as smooth and silky as the Crest Glide, but it definitely works for my tight (and sore) teeth. It’s an acceptable alternative.

According to the packaging (which looks like a regular plastic floss package):

  • The floss/tape is waxed and saturated with Tea Tree Oil, which is inherently antiseptic
  • No animal ingredients or testing
  • No alcohol, artificial color or synthetic perfumes
  • 30 Yds, Waxed
  • Cost: $3.40 (Rainbow Grocery in SF); also available online

I’m researching the filament and wax on this product.