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Oral Hygiene Tips for Kids with Braces

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shutterstock_176265992If your child has crooked, overlapping, overcrowded teeth or a “bad bite”, your dentist may suggest they be fitted with braces.

Braces correct alignment problems by putting steady pressure on the teeth, eventually moving them into a better position. Most kids just need braces with wires and rubber bands, and the good news is that while metal braces are still used, they are far less common. These days they come in clear or white ceramic, making them much less noticeable.

Braces are not a thing to be feared, and the benefits from wearing them are great. Providing you assist your children in the proper care and oral hygiene, they should have very little trouble with their braces.

Preparing for braces

Create a cleaning kit

If your child is to be fitted with braces, you will need to prepare a hygiene kit. This should include:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Wax
  • Lip balm

Place these items in a handy carry case so your child can take the kit wherever they go. Wearing braces means oral hygiene is more important than ever. Brackets, wires and bands can trap pieces of food that promote bacterial growth and tooth decay, so the sooner trapped food is removed, the better. Without regular cleaning, your child’s teeth can become weakened and discoloured.

It’s also recommended that you invest in a good electric toothbrush, as the rotating brush head is the only sure way to remove the plaque that builds up between the brackets. Look for an electric toothbrush that fits a specialised brush head, as this will allow the bristles to get deeper into their braces for a more thorough clean.

Set a routine

It is standard dentist advice that suggests the brushing of teeth three times a day when you have braces, but most people generally only manage twice a day. As soon as you know your child is getting braces, set a routine that sees them brushing their teeth at least three times a day, as this will be imperative once the braces are on. It may help if the whole family gets in the routine too.

Buy a gum guard

If your child plays any contact sport, it’s very important that braces and teeth are protected from a knock. Ask your dentist about a specialised gum guard before their first game with braces.

Cleaning tips


shutterstock_129884408Knowing to clean your teeth three times a day is one thing, but knowing how to clean them is another thing entirely. It’s important to go through the proper cleaning techniques with your child and supervise cleaning in the early days. Flossing takes a long time, but it’s necessary to keep teeth healthy. Invest in a floss threader to help get under the wire. Rubber picks are also useful for cleaning around the brace brackets.

Teeth should be cleaned one by one, and the electric toothbrush should be held on each tooth for several seconds before moving on to the next. To ensure the area behind the brackets are cleaned, angle the toothbrush slightly.

You will also need to regularly remind your child to brush the backs of their teeth, which are often forgotten. When the backs are ignored, they become vulnerable to plaque buildup and increased decay.

Brush heads

As well as finding the appropriate brush head for your child’s toothbrush, they should be replaced every three months.

Professional cleaning

Book in visits with your child’s dentist every three months for a professional clean.

Appropriate foods

The foods you feed your child should be gentle on their braces and not too hard or sticky. Avoid foods such as nuts, hard candy, popcorn, sticky peanut butter and toffees. Also avoid breads with sesame seeds or whole grains.

If a bracket or wire is broken during eating, notify your orthodontist as soon as possible. You may also need to apply wax to safeguard traumatising your child’s gums or teeth should a sharp point develop.

There are lots of ways to make having braces an easy experience for your child, so feel free to ask your dentist what you need to be doing to ensure their teeth have the best care possible.

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