How to Keep Teeth Clean with Braces
Having braces fitted may be the first step towards your child’s smile, but it’s not the only one. While kids braces are working their magic, straightening their teeth and aligning their bite, your child still needs to work their own magic by keeping their teeth clean and healthy. That way, you can be confident that they’ll reach the end of their treatment and have the beautiful smile that you’ve all been waiting for.
Why Teeth with Braces Need Extra Attention
When your child is wearing braces, their teeth are effectively covered with brackets and wires. It’s easy to be misled by the braces as, while they are working to move teeth, they aren’t actually protecting them from decay. In fact, braces create sneaky areas where bacteria can easily accumulate. If bacteria is left there, it can lead to oral hygiene issues such as tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
It’s fundamental when getting braces for children in Canberra, that you learn how to keep teeth clean with braces and give teeth the extra attention they need. Your orthodontist will be able to advise you as to the best way to take care of your child’s teeth, but in the meantime, bear these tips in mind.
The Danger of Ignoring Tooth Decay
As we’ve touched on, tooth decay happens gradually over time. So, the longer it is left, the more damage it can cause. When decay first starts, there are very few symptoms, making it hard to detect. As it gets worse, however, it can begin to cause sensitivity to temperature and teeth can begin to throb. If still ignored, teeth can become infected and the decay can reach the nerve. When the nerve is infected an abscess may form and you can experience serious pain, swelling, and fever. The problem is, once tooth decay has progressed into a cavity and infection, you won’t be able to reverse the problem and will need treatment.
How to Give Teeth Extra Attention
You’re going to need to prepare to spend around three times as long as normal looking after your children’s teeth with braces. There are five key things that you need to consider to retain excellent oral hygiene:
1) Tooth Brushing
We all know that we should brush our teeth twice a day, and no doubt it’s something you’ve drummed into your children. However, when they are wearing braces, they should try to brush more regularly. The ideal is four times a day, after breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then again before bed. The reason being, the longer food particles are trapped in braces for children, the more chance they have of causing damage.
The next thing is learning how to brush teeth with braces. Your child will need to use a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. They should start by rinsing their mouth with water to loosen any food that is stuck around the braces. Next, each tooth should be cleaned carefully. They should use small circular movements, brushing first on the gum line at a 45-degree angle, then on top and under each of the brackets, and not forgetting the chewing and inside surfaces of the teeth as well.
Flossing is essential for everyone’s dental hygiene routine, but it becomes even more important when we’re wearing braces. While brushing is vital, it can’t always get to small, hard to reach places. Flossing is fundamental to dislodge food particles and plaque that accumulates under the gum. Your child will need to take the time to floss carefully and if you have younger children who lack the coordination to floss effectively, be prepared to help them.
Flossing can be tricky to get the hang on, whoever is doing it, so bear in mind these tips, so you can get it right:
- Type – you will need to use waxed floss, dental tape or braces-specific floss to get around those hard to reach areas. Ask your Woden dentist which type they recommend, so you get around the braces and under the gum line.
- Method – you’ll need to carefully thread the floss under the main wire of the braces before passing it between two teeth. Use your thumb and index finger to move the floss up and down, not side to side as this could damage the gums. Make sure you get around the gum of each tooth and then let go of the floss, pull it out and start on the next two teeth.
- Time – you’ll need to be systematic when it comes to flossing, making sure you move from one tooth to the next and that no area is missed. Don’t rush the process, or you’re bound to miss some.
3) Interdental Brushes
Sometimes it can be difficult to clean in between each tooth and bracket with brushing and flossing alone. Interdental brushes are a great tool to help reach around the wires and brackets of braces for children. Make sure that using these brushes doesn’t replace the normal flossing routine though, it should be an additional tool rather than a replacement.
4) Dental Check-Ups
While you will have appointments with your orthodontist when you have braces, you still need to keep up regular appointments with your regular dentist in Woden. If any plaque or debris remains around the braces and gums, they can start to bleed. If this isn’t treated, then it can lead to a more serious form of gum disease. At your regular check-ups, your Woden dentist will be able to check your teeth and gums are healthy and help you out if any areas need extra attention.
With braces for children, you’re going to need to be more aware of your child’s diet. Too many tempting sugary and starchy foods can cause a greater buildup of plaque around the brackets. This can lead to staining, cavities, and gum disease. Try to reduce these types of food and avoid sticky and chewy foods that could get caught in the braces.
The Perfect Oral Hygiene Routine
Ultimately, to keep teeth with braces clean, you need to have a perfect oral hygiene routine. That means brushing at least four times a day, flossing once a day, using specially designed tools like interdental brushes, and having a healthy diet. However, as orthodontists in Canberra, we understand that keeping the perfect routine every day can be tricky.
If you get caught out without a toothbrush, vigorously rinse your mouth after eating and brush as soon as you can. If you’re not sure if you’re getting all those hard-to-reach spots on your kid’s braces, try using disclosing tablets once a week after brushing. The tablets stain plaque pink, which means you can see the areas that you’re not quite getting and remove the plaque before it does any damage. And, finally, ask your Woden dentist for advice so they can make sure that you have got your technique and routine just right.
If you would like to book a free appointment with us here in Woden at Acacia Dental Group, don’t hesitate to give us a call on (02) 6281 2222. You will see one of our dentists, who will examine your teeth and mouth and explain your treatment options.