If you want your child/teen to have the perfect smile, getting braces on the teeth is not enough. While that is an important first step, you also need to make sure he/she cares for them properly. Fortunately, caring for them is easy when you know what to do.
Tip #1 Proper Brushing
If you want your child to have a beautiful smile, you have to make sure he brushes his teeth properly. Forget everything you know about brushing teeth. It is a different process when orthodontic devices are involved. Make sure your child brushes both above and below they brackets, keeping the toothbrush in place for several seconds on each tooth. It is as if the braces are diving each tooth into a top and bottom half.
In addition, replace the toothbrush on a regular basis. Braces can cause toothbrushes to fray so you will need to give your child a new one more often than you did in the past. Otherwise, the toothbrush won’t be able to remove all of the bacteria on his teeth.
We also recommend patients use an interdental toothbrush in addition to a regular toothbrush. This toothbrush looks similar to a pipe cleaner and it fits underneath the brackets and wires. Make sure your child uses the toothbrush gently to avoid damaging the wires. If used gently, it is a great way to clean underneath the wires and remove any additional bacteria. Finally, make sure your child brushes often enough. He should brush after each meal and before bedtime. If there is a situation where brushing isn’t possible, we recommend rinsing with water.
Tip #2 Flossing
Some people think that they don’t need to floss when they have braces, but that could not be further from the truth. Proper flossing is critical to have healthy teeth and gums when the braces come off. The way to get the floss under the wires is to use a “floss threader” or the floss that is stiff on 1 end and run the floss under the wire by the gums in order to get access in between the teeth. Once finished, unthread the floss and move down the line to the next two teeth. Preloaded floss such as Platypus that are mounted in a plastic holder and come down halfway between the teeth form the top and “water piks” are also great adjuncts. Flossing should be done every night. If flossing has not been done regularly, the gums may bleed some in the beginning, but this should go away with a few flossing sessions.
Tip #3 Fluoride
Fluoride is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay, since it makes teeth more resistant to acid attacks and can even reverse some signs of beginning decay. This can be very helpful with when your child has orthodontic appliances. We recommend a stronger toothpaste during orthodontic treatment of 5000 ppm (instead of regular toothpaste which is only 1000 ppm). Consider putting a timer out so your child can get the most out of it, since brushing should take at least a minimum of 2 minutes. At night time, it is best to spit out the extra toothpaste when done instead of rinsing, so that the fluoride can stay in contact with the teeth overnight.
Tip #4 Eating Right
Patients with braces need to be mindful of what is going in their mouth. Certain foods can break the wires/brackets, which is likely to push back the anticipated braces removal date. Foods to avoid:
- hard foods
- sticky foods
- chewy foods
Your child should also avoid sugary and starchy foods. These foods promote tooth decay and can bend or break appliances, causing teeth to move a direction different than what the doctors intended.
Tip #5 Habits to Avoid
Your child also needs to avoid some habits while he is under the care of an orthodontist. Habits like biting nails and chewing on pens can distort the wires and lead to longer treatment time.
When properly cared for, orthodontic appliances are the best way to get a great smile.
If you need additional help, Contact Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics for reliable orthodontic services.