Convincing your kids to take care of their teeth is always a challenge, but once they have braces it seems to get even more challenging! Having braces, however, makes it all the more important to take care of teeth. Not only do you want to ensure the braces do their job and don’t break, but you also want to ensure healthy teeth with no cavities or tooth decay.
Helping your child remember that proper care of braces means they will work more quickly and efficiently can be a great motivator! Here are several things you and your child should do to take care of teeth with braces.
1) Brush after each meal
Brushing your teeth is important for removing plaque from teeth and maintaining good oral hygiene with braces. As you can imagine, braces provide quite a few places for food to get stuck on your teeth and create plaque.
For this reason, it’s important for your child to brush his or her teeth after every meal. If they can only manage twice each day, then swishing water around their mouth after lunch can help.
Brushing with braces is pretty similar to brushing your teeth without braces, but a couple tricks can help keep teeth clean. First, they should use a power toothbrush or a toothbrush with thinner, soft bristles that can gently clean around the braces, under the wires, and at the gum line. Second, fluoride toothpaste should be used to help fight tooth decay.
Then, they need to follow the following steps:
- If your child has elastics (rubber bands), they need to remove them.
- Your child should brush their teeth at a 45 degree angle where the gums meet the teeth, pointing upward on the lower teeth and downward on the upper teeth.
- Gently brush each tooth individually, using a back and forth motion, and take the time to brush around each bracket on the top and bottom surfaces and clean the wire.
- Rinse to cleanse any loose food particles.
- Check to make sure all food particles are removed along the gums, between the braces, and on each tooth.
- Replace the elastics.
2) Floss every day
Even though it takes more time, flossing is still very important with braces. If using actual floss, your child will probably need to use a floss threader. This floss threader looks similar to the eye of a needle – the floss is inserted into the threader, and then you use the threader to pull the floss under the wire of the braces.
If flossing proves to be too difficult, then you can also try thin interdental cleaning brushes. These provide your child with a slightly easier way to clean between teeth and can help remove the plaque between their teeth. Your orthodontist can provide advice on cleaning between the teeth and even provide samples so your child can find the best interdental cleaner for themselves.
3) Avoid sticky candy
- Sticky candy is full of sugar, which causes tooth decay.
- Because sticky candy gets stuck on your child’s teeth, it holds the sugar close and causes even more tooth decay.
- Braces provide even more places for sticky candy to get stuck and hold sugar close to the teeth.
- Sticky candy can also stick to part of the braces and rip them out while chewing.
For all of these reasons and more, your child should avoid sticky candy like taffy, caramel, or sugary chewing gum.
4) Avoid crunchy and hard food
Crunchy foods and hard foods can cause problems and should be avoided, just like sticky candy. Food like popcorn, hard pretzels, and jawbreakers can get stuck inside your braces and then cause the wire or brackets to break when chewing. A single bite of the wrong food can cause a lot of trouble for kids with braces!
5) Wear a mouthguard during sports
Sports like football, basketball, and soccer create a risk for your children and their braces. Loose balls or stray hands can accidentally hit them in the face and cause damage to their braces or gums. Most commonly, braces can cut the inside of their lip.
Wearing a mouthguard will help protect your child’s mouth and their braces. Your child may not like them, but they’re much better than a bloody lip or a broken bracket!
6) Regular visits to the dentist
Visiting the dentist to get teeth cleaned is a must for kids with braces. They can check and clean areas that are often forgotten or difficult to reach. They can remove excessive plaque and calculus buildup that can cause tooth decay. They can also check for healthy gums, and help teach your child good habits for keeping their teeth clean.
7) Partner with your orthodontist
Your child’s orthodontist will have extensive experience in providing, inspecting, and caring for braces. They’ve also had plenty of experience working with kids, teaching them how to take care of their teeth to ensure the braces do their job as quickly and effectively as possible.
At Chattahoochee Family Orthodontics, we partner with the entire family to give kids a great smile. If you have concerns or questions as a parent, we are here and ready to listen. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice or help.
We have three convenient locations in the Cumming, Hamilton Mill, and Suwanee, Georgia areas. If you’re looking for an orthodontist who will work with you and your family, then contact us today to schedule an appointment. We’d love to hear from you!