A smile is priceless. (Remember that, Mom and Dad, when the first orthodontist bill arrives!) And a straight smile is one of the best things any parent can give their child.
Now that your child has braces, here are a few tips & tricks for taking care of them and – more importantly – for caring for the teeth underneath.
Brushing with braces
Because one of the biggest enemies of healthy teeth is trapped food particles (because they alter the acidity of your mouth and cause decay), it’s extra important for kids to brush often and well during the time that they have braces. Food can easily get caught in the wires, so kids should brush in small, circular movements with the head of the toothbrush at an angle.
Despite the 2 minutes twice a day rule, kids may need to brush a little longer with braces. After all, it would take you longer to finish a race with obstacles in your way than without. Although braces give you a straight smile in the long run, they’re exactly that – obstacles in the way of the surface of your teeth.
Flossing with braces
On that note, even if your child was a reluctant flosser before, it’s now more important than ever to make it a priority. Make sure to request a floss threader from your orthodontist to avoid all of the frustration of trying to get around the wires without one. Then, using the threader and a piece of floss, floss between the archwire and your teeth, as well as between your teeth.
Foods to avoid with braces
It’s a tough sacrifice to make (especially as a teenager!), but hard foods and sticky foods should definitely be avoided while wearing braces. Because of the added chance of food getting stuck in braces, it’s also important to avoid sugary foods as well. (Even without braces, it’s a good idea to avoid sugary foods!)
Here are a few examples of foods to avoid: gum, caramel, Starburst, licorice, ice, nuts, corn on the cob, apples, carrots, hard candies, pizza crust, popcorn, and chips. If kids want to indulge once in a while, make sure these foods are cut into bite-sized pieces.
(As a side note, chewing on pens, pencils, and fingernails can also damage braces!)
The daily brushing routine is even MORE important with braces! Make sure your kids are brushing every hard-to-reach place.