An investment in your kid’s braces is an investment in their future. Not only are you helping physically correct an issue, but you’re also giving them a boost in self-esteem and confidence that will help them as they travel through life.
However, there’s no denying that braces are a substantial change in day-to-day life. They’ll have to learn to eat different types of foods (or avoid them altogether), maintain them properly, and remember to visit the orthodontist for regular checkups and adjustments.
One of the things your child will also have to learn to do differently is brushing their teeth. After the original appointment, your child may very well ask you, “How many times do I need to brush my teeth with braces?” The answer is: as often as you would without braces.
Understanding how to clean teeth properly with braces is the key to making sure they stay effective; brush too hard or inefficiently, and you could collect bacteria underneath the hardware that could cause issues down the road.
You’ll most likely have to teach them to brush their teeth all over again so to help, here are seven tips for brushing your teeth with braces.
1. Rinse Thoroughly
Before your child starts brushing their teeth, have them gargle warm water and spit into the sink. This will remove any loose food particles that may have collected underneath or around the braces themselves and will make brushing more effective. If there is quite a bit of debris that is spat into the sink, ask them to repeat the process until the liquid is relatively clear. Once all the particles are gone, your child can start brushing.
2. Pick the Right Toothpaste
Depending on how old your child is when you decide it’s time for them to get braces; they may need to choose more adult toothpaste rather than the bubblegum flavors typically enjoyed by smaller children. A toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) typically have better bacteria-fighting elements and stronger compounds that can neutralize bacteria better, so check the labels to make sure what your child is using is strong enough to do the job.
3. Brush the Gums
Many people with braces wonder: Can I brush my teeth with braces using an electric toothbrush? You may be able to, but you’ll need to dial down the intensity on the toothbrush to make sure it doesn’t destroy the brackets, or substitute a manual brush for the time being.
One area that an electric toothbrush excels in is in addressing your child’s gums. After the braces are installed, your child may feel like their gums are inflamed for a short time, but as they get used to it, the sensation will wear off. Use your toothbrush – electric or not – to get to those hard to reach places on your gums and scrub the loose particles and debris from the area.
4. Brush the Brackets
It can be hard to know exactly how to clean teeth properly with braces, and although much of it is the same as your regular cleaning is, one big change is when you address the brackets. Instead of the regular front-facing brush that typically occurs, angle the brush down to scrub the tops of the brackets, and up to scrub the bottom. Move the brush in a circular angle to reach around the brackets too, and hold the brush vertically and scrub perpendicularly to give the front of the brackets a deep clean.
5. Take Your Time
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining clean teeth during a time when your child has braces is to simply slow down and take the time to brush your teeth the right way. Many kids are impatient; they see brushing your teeth as a chore and something they just need to “get through” to get on with their day. In reality, a failure to maintain proper oral health at this stage can end up causing more problems than it solves.
If your child is asking you, “Can I brush my teeth with braces using an electric toothbrush,” then this can be a great time to introduce one to them. In addition to having a motor that provides a more thorough clean than the standard manual brushes, many electric brushes also have a timer on them that allows your children to know exactly how long to brush.
If that doesn’t work, play a song in the background that they can listen to while brushing their teeth. Most doctors recommend brushing for at least two minutes twice a day, but it’s also paramount, especially for a child with braces, that they brush every tooth and above the gum line as well. It may take a while for your child to feel comfortable brushing their teeth for this amount of time, so be prepared to help them for a few weeks.
6. Floss Twice a Day
Flossing is one of the best things you can do for your teeth, yet also one of the most overlooked – especially for people with braces. It can be hard to get behind the wires with the floss but it’s imperative that you don’t skip this step: failure to do so can result in food particles getting stuck behind the brackets and trapping bacteria.
Your orthodontist will most likely give you a tool to help make this process easier, so help your child as they practice with it, especially in the early stages. Remind them to use it each time they brush.
7. Rinse Again
Once your child has brushed and flossed their teeth, let them rinse out their teeth in order to get all the loose particles that may have been knocked free from the brushing. This is why, when children ask how many times do I need to brush my teeth with braces, that the answer is still twice a day. You would be surprised by the amount of debris that can get lodged in the brackets of your braces. Rinsing, brushing, flossing, then rinsing again helps your teeth grow strong and healthy.
Though brushing with braces can be a pain, the good news is that once a routine is formed with your child, it will become second nature to them, just as regular brushing was. And, once those braces come off and they’ll get to see the fruits of their labor, it will all be worth it. If you are considering getting braces for your child, call today to schedule an appointment!
Seven Tips for Brushing Your Teeth with Braces
201 West Washington
Benton, IL 62812
Phone: (618) 438-2815