When your child gets braces, there is a lot to keep track of!
Orthodontia means extra appointments, new rules about what not to eat, and important changes to your child’s oral hygiene routines.
Helping your child maintain healthy oral hygiene habits while they wear their braces is such an important responsibility. We know it can be a little intimidating, but we’re here to help!
In this guide on how to brush teeth with braces, we’ll take a look at why braces make brushing and flossing even more important than usual.
Why is it so important to brush your teeth with braces?
When your child wears braces, good brushing and flossing habits are essential. Most importantly, these habits help to prevent problems that are likely to cause more discomfort, pain, and expense.
Some of the problems that good brushing while wearing braces will prevent include:
Plaque and Tartar Build-Up: Inadequate brushing allows plaque to build up around the brackets and wires and between the teeth.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that builds up and hardens into tartar. It causes tooth discoloration and an increased risk of cavities.
Tooth Decay and Cavities: Speaking of cavities, there is an increased risk of cavities while wearing braces. That’s because it is so much easier for food and debris to get stuck in hard-to-reach areas. As bacteria consume these bits of food, they produce acid that damages the tooth’s enamel. Over time, this erosion may lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Gum Disease: If your child neglects their teeth while wearing braces, they may experience gum inflammation or gingivitis. When bacteria irritates the gums, the results are redness, swelling, and bleeding. Unfortunately, untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
Bad Breath: Food particles, plaque, and bacteria can cause persistent bad breath in kids, and inadequate brushing and flossing can make it worse. When your child consistently brushes their teeth, this keeps these substances from building up in their mouth and having the opportunity to cause bad breath.
Enamel Demineralization and White Spots: Have you ever noticed little white spots on your teeth or someone else’s? This comes from enamel demineralization, which occurs when the enamel is slowly damaged by things like acidic foods, soft drinks, juices, and poor brushing habits. This is one of the earliest signs of tooth decay, as the white spots show that the enamel is more vulnerable to decay.
Prolonged Treatment Time: Most kids want to wear their braces for as little time as possible. Good brushing and flossing will help them do that, because any of the problems listed so far could cause your orthodontist to need to pause or prolong your child’s treatment.
Brushing Teeth With Braces: A Step-by-Step Guide
Here is a step-by-step guide to helping your child brush their teeth consistently and effectively while they have braces. They should brush their teeth after every meal, even if they were previously only brushing their teeth in the morning and before bed.
Here is what to do to brush a child’s teeth with braces.
- Make sure your child has the right toothbrush and toothpaste. You should choose a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, as this will help your child get better access to hard-to-reach access. Choose a toothpaste with fluoride, as fluoride strengthens their enamel and protects against tooth decay.
- Have your child brush their teeth in small, circular motions, paying close attention to both the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth. Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth and the areas above and below the brackets.
- Help your child brush for 2 minutes. Even for older kids, a timer may help. They can use an hourglass from a game, a timer designed specifically for brushing their teeth, or even just a timer app on a phone.
- Don’t forget to floss. Flossing becomes a bit more of a challenge when you wear braces, especially if you are accustomed to using flossing picks. A floss threader can definitely help, because it will guide the floss underneath the wires of the braces. Your child needs to carefully floss between each tooth.
Additional Tips for Dental Care with Braces
Here are some additional tips and resources for helping your child brush their teeth while wearing braces.
As the parent or guardian of a child who wears braces, you can provide them with additional tools and resources beyond brushing and flossing.
Orthodontia Cleaning Tools
There are several great tools that you can use while you have braces, including:
- Proxabrushes (also called interdental brushes) are especially useful for cleaning between brackets, wires, and larger gaps in your teeth.
- Water flossers assist traditional flossing methods by using a steady stream of water to dislodge food particles and debris.
- Mouthwash that is specifically designed for braces helps to eliminate bacteria and give your child fresh breath.
Regular Dental Checkups with a Pediatric Dentist
Routine visits to the dentist are still crucial to your child’s oral and overall health, even though they are going to the orthodontist for regular appointments for their braces.
Be sure to schedule consistent check-ups so that your dentist can assess their progress, perform a thorough cleaning, take X-rays as needed, and address any other dental concerns.
A Healthy Diet for Braces
Provide your child with food options that are safe for their braces. It is important to avoid sticky, chewy, and hard foods that could damage their braces. This kind of damage can delay your child’s progress and even cost you more money.
Help your child avoid these sticky snacks and foods by having plenty of safe alternatives on hand: fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and more.
Is your child in school where there are class parties or lots of sticky temptations? Speak with the teacher about alternatives that may be available. You can even sign up to donate snacks and treats that you know your kid will love — without risking their braces!
In the event of the braces getting damaged, such as a bracket or wire breaking, know how to reach out to your orthodontist. If your child experiences an urgent concern related to their teeth, contact their dentist right away.
The sooner you can fix dental problems, the less of an opportunity they have to get out of hand.
FAQs About Dentists & Braces
As a pediatric dentistry practice, our speciality is in comprehensive dental care for children. We are not orthodontists, and yet many of our patients wear braces, and we frequently refer our patients to local Ashburn-area orthodontists.
Here are some of the most common questions we get about braces.
At what age should my child get braces?
There is no “right age” for getting braces. Orthodontic treatment varies and is dependent upon the individual. Many children get braces between the ages of 9 and 14, after their permanent teeth have come in.
How often do I need to visit the dentist for adjustments during orthodontic treatments?
You should maintain your child’s regular dentistry schedule during their orthodontic treatment. Most children should visit the dentist for cleanings every six months, but some children may need additional appointments.
How do we avoid tooth discoloration and white spots during orthodontic treatment?
Great oral hygiene habits will help your child avoid discoloration of the teeth, as will routine cleanings. Avoid foods that are highly acidic or sugary. If you are worried about tooth discoloration from braces, speak with your dentist and we can recommend fluoride treatments and other interventions.
Can braces correct crowded or misaligned teeth?
One of the central purposes for orthodontia is correcting crowded and misaligned teeth. Braces can address overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites. Overcrowding and misalignment can cause a number of problems. If your child’s dentist observes overcrowding and misalignment, they are likely to recommend visiting an orthodontist for a consultation.
Can I whiten my child’s teeth while they are wearing braces?
Generally, we don’t recommend teeth whitening while wearing braces. Bleaching gels, strips, and other whitening agents can’t reach the areas underneath the braces’ brackets and wires, which means the results will be uneven. We recommend waiting until your orthodontic treatment has resolved before you start any teeth whitening procedures.
Ashburn Children’s Dentistry–Providing Children with Comprehensive, Holistic Dental Care
The dentists, hygienists, assistants, and all of the staff at Ashburn Children’s Dentistry provide children with comprehensive, holistic care.
Contact us with questions or book an appointment today to make sure your child has excellent dental care. We can also refer you to a highly trusted orthodontist if your child needs an evaluation for braces.