Children get braces for multiple reasons. For some, this can be an exciting step, while it might be terrifying for others. Many questions come with getting braces. As a parent, this new territory might be confusing, no matter why your child is getting them.
However, living with braces is not as complex as it seems, and the following tips will help you and your child better handle the change.
Prepare Your Child Beforehand
Before your child gets the braces, talk to them about why they are getting them and what they should expect. Preparing them helps them adjust better and dispel any anxiety they may be feeling about getting braces.
Let them know that the process of getting the braces is not difficult and explain what will happen during the procedure. Listen to whatever concerns they may have and if you do not have an answer at the moment, let the orthodontist address them.
Purchase orthodontist wax beforehand. Orthodontist wax, or dental wax, is used to make the braces more comfortable in the event the wires or brackets irritate the inner lining of the lips or cheeks. Simply take off a small piece and mold it around the sharp brackets or wire. Sometimes, the orthodontist may be able to make a small adjustment to a wire or bracket, so it no longer causes irritation.
Eat the Right Foods
A change in diet is inevitable with braces. For starters, new braces can make your teeth sensitive. That means that eating may become a bit troublesome, and before you know it, some of your favorite foods are no longer options.
Your child is most sensitive when they first get the braces or during any adjustments. In this stage, your child should eat soft or mashed foods like:
As you get used to the braces and the sensitivity subsides, you can introduce other foods. Luckily, there are plenty of choices for healthy snacks and meals that your kid with braces can have.
Generally, your child should avoid artificial sugary foods such as sweets, gum, and sodas. Not only do they contribute to overall tooth decay, but they also damage the braces. Your child should also avoid:
Any hard food like nuts, pretzels, corn on the cob, whole apples, carrots, and hard candy.
If your child has a retainer or a plastic aligner, remind them to remove it before eating. Don’t forget to have them rinse their mouth or brush before putting back their aligner or retainer. This will prevent cavities from forming underneath the trapped food inside the aligners or retainers.
Take Care of the Braces
When you are having the braces placed, your orthodontist will give you instructions on how to best care for the braces depending on the type of braces prescribed. Following the instructions will help them avoid potential complications. Nevertheless, whether they have braces with wires or a plastic aligner, there is a basic care routine that they should maintain.
Your child should brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. Maintaining good oral hygiene is important. This will help protect your child’s teeth and braces from any damage. If they have wires, ensure they brush the spaces between the braces, as food tends to get stuck there. If, for some reason, your child is unable to brush their teeth, encourage them to use mouthwash or rinse vigorously with water.
Once they finish brushing their teeth, have them rinse their toothbrush thoroughly with running water. This is because the toothbrush can become contaminated with bacteria.
Don’t have them rinse their mouth right after brushing, so as to allow the fluoride time to do its job at preventing cavities.
Use the Proper Technique When Brushing
Yes, there is a right technique for brushing your teeth with braces, specifically for those with wires. Experts suggest starting with the gum line and holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to clean around the wires and pins. This technique should be used for both the inside and outside of the teeth.
Flossing is a great way to maintain oral hygiene and is especially important for kids with braces. Flossing the teeth will help your child get to places the toothbrush could not. It also helps to prevent any plaque buildup. There are special types of flossers for people with braces your pediatric dentist or orthodontist can give you. Have them demonstrate how to use them properly because they can be tricky to use at first.
Look in the Mirror After Cleaning
Once your child is done cleaning their teeth, remind them to look in the mirror to make sure there is nothing left behind. This will also help them notice if there is anything out of place and help mitigate any issues as early as possible.
Replace your Toothbrushes Regularly
There is a temptation to continue using a toothbrush even after the bristles are worn out. Replacing your toothbrush often is a wonderful way to maintain oral hygiene. In fact, the CDC recommends changing it every 3-4 months because worn-out bristles will prevent your brush from working effectively. Moreover, a worn toothbrush head may end up damaging the gums by causing gum recession.
Visit Your Orthodontist Regularly
Visiting your orthodontist regularly is important for maintenance and adjustments. The orthodontist will be able to spot any loose wires, tooth decay, cavity, or disease and treat it accordingly. Be sure to keep your dental cleanings and exams with your pediatric dentist every six months to catch cavities or gum disease early on. Some dentists recommend patients with braces get a cleaning every three months, if keeping up with it at home is an issue, or your child is prone to tooth decay or inflamed gums. Your appointments are a great time to also raise any concerns you may have, so make sure you keep them!