Wearing Braces? 3 Things to Help Your Child Cope
Braces as a method of orthodontic treatment are very common and are extremely useful in helping create a straighter and more attractive smile. The benefits aren’t just cosmetic as straighter teeth are able to bite together correctly, and overall dental health can be improved. It’s possible for common health problems such as jaw pain, sleep apnea, headaches and even earaches to be alleviated if the teeth and jaws are correctly aligned. Early orthodontics is often highly effective through correcting bite problems while the teeth and jaws are still developing. Children generally cope very well with wearing braces, but there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration during this time to help ensure treatment is complete success.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene While Wearing Braces
Even though removable braces are becoming more common, fixed braces are still frequently worn by children. The reason for this is that fixed braces can often deliver more precise results and are constantly working to reposition their teeth and jaws. Good oral hygiene is vitally important during treatment as fixed braces are prone towards trapping plaque and food debris which can cause decay and tooth enamel stains. Sometimes food can react with mouth bacteria and with the metal found in braces, which has the effect of bleaching the teeth causing permanent light spots to develop.
Encourage your child to brush their teeth after every meal, and make sure they have all the tools they need which could include a floss threader or special orthodontic floss. Afterwards get them into the habit of checking in the mirror to make sure all visible food particles have been removed. Pack them a small travel toothbrush and toothpaste, and if possible a bottle of water. This will help ensure they can at least rinse their mouth after meals even if they can’t always brush.
Encourage Healthy Food Choices to Avoid Damaging Braces
It’s likely your pediatric dentist or orthodontist will provide you a list of foods that need to be avoided during orthodontic treatment. This will include any sticky or chewy foods such as chewing gum, taffy, dried fruits and sticky candies as these can all adhere to braces and may be difficult to remove. Some foods that are particularly hard such as nuts, popcorn and hard candies can loosen brackets and break wires. You’ll still want to encourage them to eat some healthy foods such as carrots and apples, but make sure they are cut up into bite-size chunks to make them easy to chew without the risk of damaging their braces.
Coping with Discomfort
The process of moving teeth into new positions is not without discomfort, especially after the braces have just been adjusted. It can help if your child eats soft food or takes an over-the-counter painkiller until their teeth become accustomed to the new movements. Sometimes wire braces can rub uncomfortably, and in this case your pediatric dentist will probably have provided some orthodontic wax to help cover up these wires until they can be properly adjusted.
It can be difficult for children to realize how important it is to look after their teeth while wearing braces, and the treatment times may seem like a lifetime to them. It’s worth emphasizing the fact that treatment will be over sooner than they think, and that afterwards they’ll have a beautifully straight and healthy smile they can be proud of and which should last for life.
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Dr. Marina Krepkh (Brooklyn Pediatric Dentist)
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Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)