Somewhere between 25% and 50% of children require some sort of orthodontic treatment or braces. Braces do an incredible job of giving children straight teeth that last a lifetime, but they also present a number of challenges when it comes to cleaning their teeth. There are a few things your kids should and shouldn’t do to maintain good oral health while they have braces.
Things to Do while you have braces
- Do use mouthwash – One of the biggest challenges posed by braces is that they create lots of spaces that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and/or floss. Mouthwash does an excellent job of reaching and cleaning those areas. Before giving your children mouthwash, be sure they know how to spit it out properly. They can practice spitting out mouthwash by swirling around a cup of water in their mouth and spitting it out.
- Do floss regularly – Flossing is important even if a child doesn’t have braces, but it’s especially important for children that have braces. Braces cover much of the space between teeth, minimizing the already limited ability of a toothbrush to remove bacteria or food from between the teeth. Flossing requires a fair amount of manual dexterity without braces and is much more difficult with braces. Consequently, most children won’t be able to floss with braces, meaning you will likely need to floss for your children. You may need to purchase a floss threader if regular floss can’t be easily slipped between your child’s teeth and braces. This is a great example of how to floss with braces.
- Do practice thorough brushing – Unfortunately, braces prevent your child’s toothbrush from covering the entire front side of their teeth. This means they need to start by brushing their gum line and the top of their teeth from a 45-degree angle. Then, they can brush the bottom half of the front side of their teeth.
Things NOT to do while you have braces
- Don’t drink soda or other sugary drinks – Sugary drinks are harmful to the teeth of those with braces for the same reasons that mouthwash is so beneficial. These drinks get into places that are difficult to clean, break down tooth enamel, and enable cavity-causing bacteria to thrive. It’s best to avoid sugary drinks altogether. If that isn’t possible, have your children drink soda through a straw to minimize its contact with their teeth and rinse their mouths with water after consuming sugary drinks.
- Don’t eat hard or crunchy foods – Some foods, such as tortilla chips, nuts, and popcorn are exceedingly likely to break or damage your braces. If you frequently damage your braces it’s possible that you extend the length of time you have to wear them.
Braces make taking care of your teeth more challenging, but with the practices mentioned above, there’s no reason for braces to negatively impact the health of your children’s teeth. If you have questions about practicing good dental hygiene with braces or are looking for a pediatric dentist please don’t hesitate to contact Pediatric Dentist Dr. Alina at 972-727-0011.