Whether your children have braces for six months or two years, one thing is certain: It is crucial that they learn how to brush their teeth with braces. Dental braces make brushing difficult because food particles and plaque can adhere to the brackets and teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the number of times a person with braces should brush each day varies from orthodontist to orthodontist, but it is important to brush after every meal.
Before you brush, rinse with water. This can help loosen any food lodged in and around the braces. When you’re ready to brush, use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste and start by brushing at the gumline at a 45-degree angle. After brushing the gumline, place the toothbrush on top of the brackets, angling down to brush on top of each bracket. Then, reposition the toothbrush to brush the bottom of the bracket and the wire, angling the toothbrush up. Go slowly. Make sure to brush every tooth at the gumline as well as above and below the brackets. This will ensure you’ll reach the majority of the tooth’s surface and help to remove plaque and food debris. Even kids who are old enough to brush on their own may require help until they are comfortable properly angling the toothbrush and have learned how to brush their teeth with braces.
Flossing is a crucial step toward keeping teeth healthy. Use a floss threader to make flossing with braces easier. Soft picks can help brush very tight spaces. After brushing, you can help prevent cavities by rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse like Colgate Phos-Flur.
Taking care of teeth with braces requires diligence. Kids in braces don’t always have the discipline they need to care for their teeth, so it’s important for parents to encourage and help with tooth care. And, even with braces on, kids should see their dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups.