As a parent, you might not be able to make your teen love their braces, but you can make the process a bit easier for them by providing support. With these braces care tips, your teen will be well-equipped to navigate this necessary dental treatment. Down the line, they may even thank you for helping them achieve a healthy, straight smile.
How to Take Care of Braces
Taking care of your teeth is a bit more difficult with braces. Therefore, it is important that your teen stays proactive about caring for their braces and adhering to their oral hygiene routine. The following tips will help your teen avoid oral health problems and end up with great-looking teeth once their braces are off.
- Buy Braces-Friendly Foods
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is essential for your oral health and overall health. Nonetheless, certain foods are more braces-friendly than others. When your teen first gets braces, it may be a good idea to stick to soft foods such as yogurt, soft fruits, smoothies, and soup. Once your teen is acclimated to their braces, they can expand their diet to include other foods such as steamed vegetables, noodle dishes, scrambled eggs, seafood, and meatloaf. For more braces-friendly food ideas, click here.
- Brush Behind the Brackets
Skimping on oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, which may also affect the length of time your teen has to wear braces. To improve your teens’ oral hygiene, encourage them to get in the habit of brushing behind their brackets. By angling their toothbrush above and below their braces, your teen is more likely to remove stubborn food particles and plaque build-up.
- Don’t Skimp on Flossing
Although flossing is more difficult with traditional braces, it is not impossible. Flossing between your teeth is essential for removing plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease. To floss with braces, we recommend using a floss threader, superfloss, or power flosser to reach the area beneath your archwire.
- Minimize Pain and Discomfort
While some pain and discomfort is part of the process, your teen should not have to deal with their pain alone. A simple way to get braces pain relief is to rub an oral anesthetic like Orajel or Anbesol directly on their sensitive teeth. Your teen can also take over-the-counter pain medicine or apply an ice pack to numb their mouth. If your teen is experiencing pain as a result of the sharp ends of their brackets, apply orthodontic wax over the bracket to protect the inside of their lips, cheeks, and gums. When your teen’s pain or discomfort persists longer than three days, schedule an immediate appointment with their dentist.
- Schedule Your Next Dental Appointment
After your teen receives braces, make sure they stay on top of their regular dental check-ups and cleanings. While braces are essential for a healthier, beautiful smile, they can make it easier for cavities and other dental problems to emerge. With proper care, your child’s smile will stay healthy throughout the entire process.
What to Avoid for Teens With Braces
Certain foods are off-limits with braces because they can damage your wires and brackets. To protect your teen’s braces, encourage them to avoid the following habits.
- Avoid crunchy, sticky, or chewy foods
When your teen gets braces, the orthodontist will provide a list of foods that they are not allowed to eat. These foods include popcorn, nuts, ice, gum, pretzels, and candy, which can damage your braces. While your teen may be tempted to eat a few of these off-limits foods, even one small candy can break their appliance. To save your teen an emergency trip to the dentist, stick to braces-friendly foods.
- Avoid soda and juices
Dentists recommend limiting acidic and sugary beverages, which can eat away at your enamel and contribute to tooth decay. Carbonated beverages can also stain the metal brackets of your teeth and weaken the bond your braces have with your teeth. If you choose to drink soda, use a straw and rinse your mouth with water afterward to remove sugar leftovers.
- Avoid eating large chunks of food
Although braces are sturdy, they need to be treated with care, which means eating foods that are gentle on your brackets and wires. When possible, cut up larger bites of food into smaller pieces to protect your braces from damage.
Getting braces during your teenage years can be a big deal. As a parent, you can help your teen navigate this process by supporting them and educating them about the importance of oral health. To learn more about the treatment process or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.