Forming good dental hygiene habits is a struggle for most kids, necessary for all kids, and even more crucial for kids with braces. Traditional braces consist of square metal brackets connected by a wire. While these kinds of braces are the most popular because of their affordability and effectiveness, because they can’t be taken out like products such as Invisalign, it is more challenging to keep teeth thoroughly cleaned. This is why it is critical for kids with braces to have good dental hygiene. Here are three simple strategies for your kids to follow to keep their teeth healthy while wearing braces.
- Brush and floss every day. We know braces make brushing and flossing a little more complicated, but it is extremely important. It will be easy for food and bacteria to get stuck behind the wires and brackets where you may not know it’s there. Ideally we would like you to brush your teeth after every meal, but if you can’t, try to drink lots of water after you eat to wash away food particles. Brush your teeth like normal, and at the end spend a little extra time brushing the tops and bottoms of your braces to wash away hidden food particles. Try to brush for a minimum of two minutes. It’s also crucial that you floss at the end of every day. Simply brushing your teeth will not get out all the food and bacteria in your mouth and flossing every day will help prevent cavities. To floss with braces, thread the floss under the wire and then gently but firmly move the floss between your teeth. An instrument called a floss threader can make this process a little easier. With some time and practice, brushing and flossing with braces will be no trouble at all.
- Avoid certain foods and drinks. There are several kinds of foods you should avoid when you have braces. Sticky foods like gummy worms and caramels, as well as bubblegum, can cause damage to your braces and shouldn’t be eaten when you have braces. Foods that you bite into like apples, carrots, and corn-on-the-cob can also break your braces so you should cut these kinds of foods into smaller bites before eating. Try not to chew on things like ice, pen caps and fingernails, because these habits can also do a number on your braces. Not only can certain foods cause damage to your braces, but you also need to cut down on sugary foods and drinks to prevent cavities and unwanted stains on your teeth.
- Come see us regularly for checkups and adjustments. Once you get your braces put on, we will want to see you approximately every eight to ten weeks to check your progress and make adjustments. These appointments usually won’t take very long and will be an opportunity for you to ask us any questions you may have or let us know if you are having problems or concerns. If something has broken or come loose, please don’t wait until your next appointment to tell us about it; call right away so we can fix the problem immediately.