If your child ends up getting the traditional metal braces, which are the most popular because of their effectiveness and affordability, they will need to be treated with care.  Kids usually wear braces for at least a year, so practicing good dental hygiene is crucial to keeping their teeth healthy.  In addition, every time a bracket or wire loosens or breaks, it will prolong the orthodontic treatment and will more than likely keep your child in braces for longer.  Help your child be prepared and informed by following these simple do’s and don’t’s of orthodontic treatment.

Do brush your teeth regularly.  We’re dentists, so of course this is going to be our number one DO!  Brushing your teeth with braces can be a little more difficult, but please don’t neglect this critical dental hygiene practice.  Brush your teeth like you normally would, but then pay special attention to brushing between the wiring and the teeth.  Do this for at least two minutes, and at the end give your tongue a quick scrub to remove bacteria and keep your breath smelling fresh.

Do not forget to floss every day.  If brushing your teeth with braces feels harder, then flossing may feel impossible.  But don’t throw in the towel, because getting the food out of your teeth and the wires in your braces is key in avoiding tooth decay and cavities.  Flossing with braces is just like flossing without braces, but with one added step: you will first have to thread the floss under the wire of your braces.  We can provide you with a handy tool called a floss threader to help you with this process.  It may take a little extra time at first, but if you floss every day then you will be able to do it quickly and efficiently in no time.

Do wear a mouth guard if you participate in certain contact sports such as football, basketball, or hockey.  While athletic mouth guards are required in some sports, we recommend definitely wearing a mouth guard even if it’s not mandatory.  Even minor sporting incidents can create expensive and painful treatment to fix the braces and correct any damage that occurred to your teeth. 

Do not worry if your mouth is a little sore after a visit.  Every time we tighten or adjust your braces, you may experience mild discomfort or tenderness for a couple of days.  The pain should not last long.  In the meantime, take over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol or Motrin, stick to softer foods that will be easy on your sore teeth, and you should feel back to normal within 2-3 days.

Do avoid certain foods.  Probably one of the most commonly broken rules, it’s vital that you avoid certain foods that could cause damage to your braces.  Overly sticky foods such as bubblegum, caramels, and gummy candies should be avoided.  Some crunchy foods like popcorn, corn-on-the-cob, hard pretzels, and apples can also cause damage to your braces, so be very careful with these foods and when possible cut them up into smaller pieces before biting into them.

Do get excited about the straight teeth, even bite, and beautiful smile you will soon have.  We know this is a lot of work and may feel daunting and overwhelming at first, but we at Cornerstone Family Dentistry are committed to giving you the confident, beautiful smile you deserve, and we are positive that this hard work will all be worth it!

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