Parents love and worry about their children. We understand that here at Southeast Family Dental and we actually see it in our practice everyday. It’s obvious when a child comes through our doors with a parent who has taught them the importance of taking care of their teeth. However, often times parents are faced with the decision of having braces placed on their children’s teeth to aid in proper alignment. One of the top concerns for these parents is if their child will take care of and protect the investment to their oral health. Parents know it is often a struggle to have children brush their teeth twice a day and with all the extra time needed to clean around braces can seem overwhelming.
Even children who have been taught and use good oral hygiene techniques can have a hard time once they get their braces placed. That is not because their habit changes, but because it is more difficult for them to get around the brackets when they are brushing. It takes more work and, perhaps, the development of new habits.
What is the problem with keeping teeth with braces clean?
Most kids with braces are good at brushing from the bracket to the edge of the tooth. It’s the area between the bracket and the gum line which gets neglected. Brushing in that little space is difficult because it is, after all, a tiny space. And most toothbrushes aren’t tiny. There are other smaller brushes, such as a proxabrush, that can be used to clean between the teeth and archwire or where there are larger spaces between the teeth.
Then there is the issue of flossing. Keeping the space between the teeth clean is always important. When braces are added into the equation, the chances of food getting caught between teeth is even greater. And, with braces, flossing is more difficult. One solution is to thread floss into the area above the wire and between the teeth. That takes patience and practice. Neither of which are things that most children like to confront. Which makes it that much more difficult for parents.
Is there a better solution?
We love children, too, here at Southeast Family Dental. So, we want to provide solutions for parents and their children that make relationships better. In the case of children with braces, we recommend the use of a waterpik as an alternative to flossing for kids with braces.
There are different tips available, but it is recommended that people with braces use the orthodontic tip or a jet tip. Using a waterpik is easy once you get the hang of it and you can safely and effectively floss the teeth in less than a minute. The following (from www.waterpik.com) represents the process:
- Fill the water flosser reservoir with lukewarm water and place it firmly on the base.
- Insert the flosser tip into the handle.
- Adjust the pressure control (start at low pressure).
- Lean over the sink and place tip in mouth.
- Turn unit on. Close lips to prevent splashing, while allowing water to flow from the mouth into the sink.
- Starting with the back teeth, gently glide the tip along the gum line.
- Pause and lightly brush the area between the teeth and all around the orthodontic bracket or appliance.
- Proceed to the next tooth.
A waterpik, although a blessing for kids with braces, is a benefit for anyone else with teeth, too. Flossing may be avoided by some people because they are a little rough or because their teeth are very close together and it is difficult to get the floss in place. A waterpik can provide the answer that will result in a better, more consistent practice. So, don’t think of a waterpik as an appliance that will be unnecessary after the braces come off. It can be used by the entire family.
A final word of caution about care of teeth with braces
White spots may appear on the teeth around braces. While you might think this is a sign of good care from brushing, these are NOT a good thing. Parents might assume that their child’s teeth are staying really white but that is not the case. These white spots are caused by demineralization of the teeth. You don’t want this to happen and can prevent these white spots from appearing by making sure that your child is brushing all around each bracket.
It’s important to continue regularly scheduled care while braces are on the teeth. Cleanings and check-ups ensure that everything stays healthy while the braces do their job. Also, if questions come up about the use of a waterpik, the dentists and staff at Southeast Family Dental are always happy to help out with answers. Just give us a call at 317-359-8000.
When we all work together, braces can be less challenging for everyone.