pproximately four million Americans — the majority of them children — wear braces.
Are you considering investing in them for your child? Are you worried about the maintenance and rigorous cleaning practices associated with them?
The process of maintaining braces might seem intimidating at first. With a little planning and studying, though, you can learn how to keep braces clean and pass that information on to your child.
If you’re not sure how to clean braces, keep reading. Listed below are some helpful tips that will simplify the process for your children.
Risks of Bad Cleaning Habits
Good oral hygiene is essential at all times. It’s especially important when it comes to taking care of braces, though.
When someone first gets braces, there’s a bit of a learning curve that they have to go through when they start trying to clean them. However, it’s important to get over that learning curve to avoid oral health issues.
The following are some of the risks associated with bad oral hygiene habits when you have braces:
It’s not always easy to brush your teeth when you have braces. There are a lot of little nooks and crannies where plaque can build up.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms when saliva combines with food particles. Plaque buildup is associated with gum disease, tooth decay, and a variety of other dental issues.
If plaque continues to build up on the teeth and doesn’t get removed, cavities can form. Kids who have braces — especially those who aren’t diligent about their oral hygiene — might develop cavities more often than kids who don’t.
Plaque buildup and other dental issues can lead to increased tooth sensitivity. If kids aren’t careful about their oral hygiene, they may notice that they’re more sensitive to hot and cold foods.
How to Clean Braces
These common cleaning challenges can make braces intimidating for parents and children alike. They shouldn’t hold parents back from getting their kids the help they need, though.
There are lots of strategies parents can teach their child to help them keep their braces clean and avoid plaque buildup and other dental issues:
Brush Multiple Times Per Day
One of the most important steps someone with braces can take to keep their braces clean is to brush often.
Brushing in the morning and at night might not be enough for kids with braces. They might need to carry a toothbrush with them and brush at school after lunch and after eating snacks, too.
Brush One Tooth at a Time
When your child is brushing their teeth while wearing braces, they need to brush each individual tooth.
When they first start brushing their teeth after they have their braces put on, make sure your child takes care to brush one tooth at a time and brush on all sides.
Brush at All Angles
In addition to brushing each tooth individually, it’s also important for your child to brush their teeth from all angles. This will ensure they clean all the plaque off the teeth and get into every little gap and hiding place for plaque that braces create.
Use Special Flossing Tools
Brushing with braces isn’t too difficult. As long as your child takes a little extra time to address each tooth, they’ll be able to get the majority of the plaque off the surfaces of the teeth.
Flossing, on the other hand, is a different story. Flossing with dental floss alone usually isn’t enough.
It’s helpful to use a floss threader tool or a water pick to get in between the teeth and maneuver around the wires. This will help your child avoid getting cavities between their teeth or in places that are covered by wires.
Replace Their Toothbrush Often
In most cases, replacing your kids’ toothbrush every three months is enough.
For kids with braces, though, they might need replacements more often. All the metal that comprises braces can wear the toothbrush down and make it less effective.
Pay careful attention to their toothbrush and, when the bristles start to look frayed or worn, pick up a new one for them.
Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and keep your child’s teeth healthy. It’s helpful to everyone, but especially those who are more prone to cavities, such as those who have braces.
Make sure they’re using toothpaste that contains fluoride. It might be a good idea to have them use a mouthwash that contains fluoride as well.
Rinse with Water
If your child can’t get to a bathroom and brush their teeth right away after eating, teach them to rinse their mouth with water after eating.
This will help to get rid of some of the food particles that might be lingering after a meal and will minimize the damage they can do.
This is not a complete substitute for teeth brushing, of course, but it’s better than nothing at all.
Avoid Problematic Foods
Sticky foods like toffee, bubblegum, and candy increase your child’s risk of cavities and can be damaging to their braces. The same goes for crunchy foods like chips and nuts.
Ensure your child avoids eating these foods to minimize the likelihood that they’ll experience plaque buildup, cavities, and other dental issues.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Last, but not least, make sure your child gets to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
This will help to keep problem areas clean and minimize plaque buildup.
It will also ensure that, if they do have any cavities forming, they’ll get addressed right away before they can get worse and become infected.
Does Your Child Need Braces?
You may have been nervous about getting braces for your child, especially when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.
The process of cleaning braces might seem intimidating at first. It gets easier with practice and proper instructions, though.
If you keep these guidelines on how to clean braces in mind, you’ll have a much easier time helping your child keep their braces clean while also straightening their teeth.
Are you interested in learning more about braces for your child? If so, contact us at Ogden Orthodontics today to schedule a free exam.