How should my child care for their teeth now that they have braces?
How to care for a smile with braces
Braces lead to straighter smiles and greater confidence, but they can take some getting used to. Your child will need to take more care in his or her daily oral hygiene and choices throughout the day. Here are just a few ways to keep teeth healthy with braces:
Cleaning teeth with braces
The braces, wires, springs and other appliances can trap food and plaque. These need to be carefully cleaned to avoid staining and tooth decay. Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, carefully removing all food that may have gotten stuck between braces. A "Christmas tree" style brush is narrow enough to get between braces and can be used alongside a standard toothbrush. A fluoride mouthwash can help flush food free where toothbrushes can't easily reach. An airflosser or waterpik can also make it easier to remove stuck food and plaque.
Flossing remains important for gum health. Floss will need to be fed through the space behind the main arch wire. Then, carefully pull the floss up between teeth, getting each side of the gum. If your child has trouble, look into floss that has stiff threader ends. These can reduce frustration and make it more likely your child will keep up with good hygiene practices.
Between brushing care
Care for teeth with braces goes beyond brushing. Special care is needed during sports, eating, and certain other everyday activities.
A child with braces can continue to participate in any sports they enjoyed before. But, if there is a chance of getting hit in the mouth, they'll need a special mouthguard. These are designed to fit over braces and can protect the soft tissue inside the mouth from cuts and bruising.
Your child needs to be careful to avoid picking at or playing with braces, as it can cause brackets to dislodge. It might take a bit of time to get adjusted to this when braces are new. Continue positive reinforcement to develop good habits.
Most foods can be eaten as normal, particularly if they are cut up into small pieces. But, a few should be avoided. These include:
- Sticky or chewy foods like caramels or taffy.
- Foods that are hard to bite or chew, like whole apples, bagels, and hard rolls.
- Crunchy foods like popcorn, hard pretzels, and nuts.
- Corn on the cob.
Kids often take a bit of time to adjust to the new routines with braces. But, with good care, they will come out with a healthy smile to be proud of.
Are you concerned about your child's oral care with braces? Contact the caring staff at Dr. Jon D. Smith Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry today, to make sure your child is on the right track.