Brace Yourself: Tips for Teens to Care for Their Braces
We all know what it’s like to be a teen, right? We’ve all been there! Our teens today have so much going on with homework, school sports, preparing for college, making time for friends, and in this technological world we live in, they like to throw in some gaming time too.
Now their Chandler dentist is saying they have to get braces and is also asking them to add extra time to their oral hygiene care? Most teens won’t see the long-term benefits of having straight teeth and proper hygiene because their brains just don’t function that way yet. So, we as adults have to make sure we help them see the benefits by giving them the proper instructions and tools.
What type of materials work best for braces care?
According to Bellevue Orthodontist Dr. Jeff Schur, “Electric brushes require less dexterity, and they run for two minutes with beeps every 30 seconds. These can remove the tendency to rush through the process and to overestimate how much time has been spent on hygiene.”
While a manual toothbrush may be able to do the job just fine, an electric toothbrush, such as a Sonicare, may help your teen brush more thoroughly, thanks to the two-minute timer. Just make sure your kids know (you’ll probably get an eye roll) that they should be brushing at a 45-degree angle at the junction between the tooth and gum. They’re not just cleaning around the teeth though; there are also the brackets and wires to worry about. With the brush angled at 45 degrees, brush from the top and from the bottom of the brackets.
Proxy brushes (Christmas tree-shaped brushes) are also helpful tools as they can get into those tight spots. These are compact in size so it will be easy for them to keep a few in their backpack.
Power flossers are also available for those who do not want to take the time fishing floss under their wires, but if you don’t want to spend your cash on that, invest in some floss threaders. There are different brands to choose from. Dr. Walker’s office will typically provide some samples for you to try at home.
Finding the right materials will help reduce frustrations when your teen is trying to get the floss in between tight spaces. This will be hard for them to do at first, but just like with sports, practice makes perfect!
Foods to avoid during orthodontic treatment:
- Hard foods, such as hard candy, corn nuts, ice, or even hard crusty bread could loosen a bracket.
- Popcorn husks can get stuck in the gums and cause inflammation, so it may be best to just avoid popcorn all together.
- Sugary foods and drinks can contribute to decalcification on the surface of tooth enamel. Not only does this look unsightly when the braces are removed, but decalcified areas are also more prone to cavities.
Foods that may require extra cleaning:
- Soft caramels
- Stringy meats
Most foods that are crunchy, like apples and vegetables, are okay for braces if they are cut into pieces and eaten with care.
You know your teen best and you will know the best way to approach the subject with them, but rewarding their good effort with positive feedback is key!
Our hygienists Chandra, DJ, Marilyn & Patti here at Dr. Walker’s office are some of the best when it comes to helping our Chandler dental patients with their home care. If it’s been a while since your teen’s last cleaning, call us today at 480.786.4000 for an appointment!