Braces are a big investment that will ultimately reward your children with straighter, healthier teeth. But Alameda Pediatric Dentistry’s Cinthia Galvez, RDA, reminds families that straight teeth aren’t the only goal.
“We want you to have straight and non-stained teeth at the end of treatment,” Galvez says.
Because braces can be an obstacle during brushing and flossing, it’s especially important for mom and dad to make sure kids take the time to do it right, setting aside at least three minutes in the morning and after meals to brush and about 10 minutes in the evening to floss as well.
Galvez understands that the process is time consuming and that kids can sometimes be unfocused and in a rush to get it done. She recommends making it a routine.
“It is also helpful for parents to brush with their children to show the example of how long it takes to brush your teeth,” Galvez says.
If kids need more motivation, try illustrating the process of plaque build-up in their mouths. Alameda Pediatric Dentistry orthodontist, Dr. Helaine Kan, says plaque is composed of colonizing bacteria which try to attach themselves to the teeth’s smooth surfaces.
“When there are braces present, that plaque is able to attach more readily. If the plaque remains on the surface of teeth, that bacteria is able to basically eat what you eat and their by-product (the bacteria’s ‘poop’) is acidic,” Dr. Kan says. This causes cavities if not regularly cleaned off everyday.
Hopefully, the idea of “bacteria poop” will prompt the little ones to put the fluoride to work. Found in most toothpastes and mouth washes, fluoride is an effective weapon in preventing cavities and staining. Kids with braces should also use special floss threaders or “floss fish” to get in between teeth.
“We remind our kids with braces that they work so hard to improve their bites and smiles, but they also have to remember to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent the formation of permanent stains and cavities,” says Dr. Kan.
October is Orthodontic Health Month! Look out for next week’s article on keeping your braces safe from the perils of Halloween candy!