Caring For Children With Dental Braces
When children start wearing braces, it is vital they take extra care of their teeth. As a parent, you too, have an important part to play in caring for children with braces.
By Dr Vaishali Karad
After getting a brace on, for the first few days, a child’s teeth will feel somewhat sore and sensitive. The child may express it as a dull ache or a feeling of discomfort. In this issue, it is advisable that a usual dose of mild pain reliever may be given as directed after meals to relieve these symptoms.
Gargling with warm salt water several times a day will also help to relive the ache.
So, what are some ways through which you can take care of children with dental braces?
Following a proper diet when a child is wearing braces is important. During this period a diet that is light on foods that require extensive chewing and biting is not recommended.
Food such as porridge, milk, soup, rice, dal, idli, cooked vegetables, curds, soft fruits like bananas, fruit juice, milkshakes, jelly, custard etc. Though the pressures of braces are not heavy, an inability to chew with back teeth may be felt by the child. This is because the teeth come under mild pressure suddenly and hence the experience of pain. However, the symptoms generally subside after a couple of days.
Good dental habits will serve them well throughout their lives. Certain foods are considered good for teeth. In the ClipBook below, we discuss some of them.
In about a week’s time, the child should gradually be able to start consuming a normal diet.
However, throughout orthodontic treatment it is mandatory to avoid hard or sticky foods at all times such as chewing gum, chikkis, toast, ice, etc.
Eating hard or sticky food could either break or dislodge the braces. This can cause great discomfort, reverse some treatment results and prolong the time required to complete the treatment.
- Never bite into whole fruit like apples or pears. Always cut them into small pieces / slices and try to chew them with the back teeth.
- Vegetables like carrots can be grated.
- Meat should be cut off the bone into small bits. Avoid chewing bones.
- Bread/biscuits/pizza can be cut into pieces and chewed with the back teeth. Avoid eating into any of these with the front teeth.
- Nuts can also be chopped and chewed with the help of the back teeth.
- Mints can be sucked on, but never chewed.
- Take care while having snacks like popcorn. They sometimes have hard corns left behind and this could lead to breakage if the braces
- Fizzy and carbonated beverages should be avoided at all costs. They can damage the enamel of the teeth. Chose healthier options such as fruit juices.
If the child feels any part of the braces is uncomfortable or are hurting/bruising the cheek or lip, it is advisable to dry it with a cotton bud and firmly place a small piece of soft wax on the braces. The braces are above the original level of the teeth and the lips/cheeks are not used to being positioned above such levels. Hence, till they get used to the level of braces, the child may experience mild hurting on the soft tissues.
In case the tongue of the child or the inside of lips or cheeks become inflamed, it is advised that first dry the area with a cotton bud, and then apply the prescribed gel. The child will gradually get used to wearing braces.
If some part of braces/appliance becomes loose or detached; use the soft wax as described above.
Never attempt to break off or remove any piece or part of the braces. Call the orthodontist’s office for an appointment.
How to brush with braces.
• Regular brushing
1. The child must brush her teeth and gums at least 3 times a day, preferably after meals. If this cannot be followed always, then the child should rinse the mouth thoroughly with water after lunch or snack.
2. It is best to use a soft bristle toothbrush with a small head, to easily access all areas of the mouth. Use fluoridated toothpaste; and spend at least 3 minutes for thorough brushing each session.
3. Attend to both sides of each jaw separately and in sequence, so that every surface of each tooth is taken care of.
4. Follow the correct technique to brush. Angle the bristles of brush towards the gum, with the tips of the bristles at the gum line on the outer surfaces of the teeth, between the orthodontic wires and gum line.
5. Now, jiggle the handle of the toothbrush to massage the gums with a light circular motion and then sweep over the teeth, away from the gums in one direction only. This will dislodge all the food particles stuck very effectively. Avoid use of an up & down movement.
6. Repeat this action a couple of times before moving on to the next segment of teeth. Do the same on the inner surfaces of the teeth, again starting at the gum line.
7. Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth with a scrubbing motion.
• Interdental brushing
It is always advisable to use interdental brush tips to remove any food particles or plaque that collects around orthodontic brackets, wires and near the gum margins.
1. Does not require toothpaste.
2. Always enter below the wire from the gum side [not the tooth side] with the small tuft of bristles on the brush reaching between two teeth, under the orthodontic wire and resting on the peak of your gums.
3. Move the brush with several quick strokes in a single direction only, that is, towards the tip of the gum peak.
4. Use the interdental brush to clean around the orthodontic attachment on each tooth, the segment of wire between each tooth, and especially on every tooth surface --- between the braces and gum line.
5. Check that all areas are thoroughly cleaned and the braces are shiny.
To protect the enamel of the teeth, advisable to gargle thoroughly and vigorously for at least one minute with undiluted fluoride-based mouthwash – at least 3 or 4 times a day after meals, that is, after brushing your teeth and gums. Do not swallow. Do not eat, drink or gargle with water for 30 minutes after using mouthwash.
This will help protect the enamel against the start of decalcification leading to further decay. The decalcification happens because of the acid producing microbes which lodge themselves in plaque around the braces on the teeth.
• Regular appointments
It is most important for the child to cooperate with the orthodontist by following all instructions and following the given the appointment schedules to reap the correct benefits of the orthodontic treatment and complete it well within the estimated time duration
The author is Director, Clinical Services and HR - Smile Care Expert Dental Centre.
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