Oral Care Tips for Kids with Braces

Cartoon braces showing proper dental hygiene with brushes and flossers
Image by Authority Dental under CC 2.0

Children live in a state of constant change, so making a few lifestyle adjustments when they get braces might be easier for them than it would be for you. With some gentle guidance and encouragement, you can help your child make the necessary changes to their oral care routine without too much trouble.

Foods to Avoid

Unfortunately, some of the things kids love to eat are really bad for braces. First and foremost, this includes sticky and sour candy. They are hard to clean off teeth even without brackets. Hard candy and gum should also be avoided. Popcorn is dangerous for several reasons. The hidden un-popped kernels can crack a tooth or pop off a bracket. Likewise, the little slivers of husks that get stuck between the teeth and gums are hard to remove and can irritate gums. Hard foods like apples, corn on the cob and pizza can cause problems, but fortunately there are workarounds for these favorites. Cut apples into slivers; cut pizza into small slices and avoid the hard, crusty end pieces; and cut corn off the cob. When your kids understand the damage that certain foods can cause to their braces, they will be more likely to cooperate. Damaged brackets can delay the completion of treatment.

Oral Hygiene Away From Home

It’s a given that it’s harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. There are so many places for food to get hung up. It’s super important to brush after eating. However, oral care is harder when kids are out and about. Provide a colorful, zippered bag with hygiene supplies for them to use when they are away from home. Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, flossers, a collapsible cup, and protective wax. Encourage them to drink water after eating and to rinse their mouth out when they are unable to brush immediately.

Oral Hygiene at Home

Because brushing may not be easy during a busy day, it’s especially important to do a good job at home. Our team at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry will demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques to your child in our office. Have your child brush back and forth between the wires and gums to clear out food particles. Then brush in a circular motion with the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle working your way all around your teeth. A water flosser can also be very helpful for cleaning at home. Flossing is a challenge with braces but even more necessary than usual. It becomes easier with practice. Be sure your child uses a clean section of floss in-between each tooth.

Acknowledge Their Discomfort

Braces put pressure on teeth to move them, so when the braces get tightened there is often some discomfort. Offer kind words, softer foods, and over-the-counter pain relievers as necessary. Reassure your child that the good habits they are developing while wearing their braces will pay off with a beautiful smile for the rest of their life. Let us know during visits to our San Antonio office if they need extra coaching and instruction.

We want to make their experience wearing braces as positive as possible!

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