Braces. They are a pain all around: metaphorically, financially, and physically. Over 4.5 million Americans (most of them children and teens) have braces right this very moment. Orthodontists estimate that about 45% of all kids will need braces at some point to correct a functional problem, but up to 75% of kids could use them to improve the aesthetic appearance of their teeth.
In other words: most of you parents reading this will have to bite the bullet and pay the average $4.5K to get your kid braces. If you’re investing that much, you want to be darn sure that your kid is going to take good care of their braces while they have them!
That’s why we’ve decided to put together a 7-step guide to help you and your kid make sure their braces stay in tip top condition. We’ve even put together a corny mnemonic device to help you remember this list!
A note before we begin: If you’re one of the adults who has taken the brave step to improve your smile with braces, we commend you! We hope these tips (and our cheesy memory device) help you as well!
REALLY GROOVY FOLKS TAKE TIME FOR BRACES
- Rinse. There are two ways to rinse when it comes to braces. First of all, make sure to rinse with mouthwash at least once a day. This helps to remove any lingering food in your braces and prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria. A word to the wise: make sure not to rinse immediately after brushing. If you rinse right after brushing, it could negate the plaque-fighting agents in your toothpaste. Wait at least 30 minutes in between brushing and rinsing. The other helpful way you can rinse? With salt water! Salt water can help reduce inflammation and pain from your braces. You don’t need to do this every day, but it does help on those days that prove to be a bit more challenging.
- Grinding. Avoid grinding your teeth if you can. Your teeth are already sensitive and susceptible to damage. Grinding wears down enamel and makes it easier for teeth to chip and crack, which allows for greater plaque build-up and the potential of cavities. If you grind your teeth at night, be sure to invest in a mouthguard. It should be noted that if you play sports, it’s important to wear a mouthguard while playing to avoid damage. Also, make sure you’re not using your teeth as tools. No biting your nails or opening packages with your teeth when you can’t find the scissors!
- Food. There are several foods that you should avoid eating with braces. You can think of them in 3 categories:
- The Hard Stuff. Examples of this are hard candies, ice, or even hard bread products like crackers or rolls. Basically, no food harder than what you’d find at your local nursing home.
- The Crunchy Stuff. Potato chips, pretzels, corn on the cob, popcorn….all of this yummy stuff can get stuck in your braces and be incredibly annoying to fish out.
- The Chewy Stuff. Things like caramels, tootsie rolls, and gum are pretty much the worst of the worst when trying to clean your braces pristine.
- The Sweet Stuff. It’s good to limit your consumption of sweet products, including drinks like soda and fruit juice, because the sugar mixes with saliva to create a film over your teeth, which can prove difficult to remove with braces.
- Technique. Brushing technique matters. Instead of the regular two times a day, it is recommended that you brush four times a day (one after each meal and right before bed) for a two full minutes and floss at least once a day. Here’s a quick run-down of an oral care routine to help you out:
- Toothbrush, toothbrush, toothbrush! It is critical that you choose a toothbrush that is designed to clean the spaces in between your braces. A standard toothbrush could work if you had meticulous brushing chops but, since most of us don’t, why not choose a brush that is ergonomically designed with maximum surface coverage to get in between the metal and tooth? Try RADIUS uniquely engineered brushes, available in both adult and kid size. Also remember, it’s important to change out your bristles regularly! That’s why RADIUS offers subscription packages…so you can leave the remembering to us!
- Flutes. It’s important to exercise caution when playing any wind or brass instrument. It’s ok to play, but playing immediately after your braces are put on without giving the proper time to adjust can prove detrimental. Inflammation is common after braces are installed and, with inflammation, comes the potential for gum disease. So, maybe give your mouth a break for a little while before trying to master the Titanic pennywhistle solo. Another consideration? If you are not the most vigilant at cleaning your mouthpiece, harmful bacteria can transfer from your mouthpiece to your mouth. When you’re fighting an uphill battle already to keep your teeth clean with braces, it’s especially important to be attuned (pun intended) to the cleanliness of your mouthpiece.
- Bands. No, not the fun kind you can dance your butt off to. The rubber kind that help with jaw mobility. Don’t forget to take them out between meals. They have a nasty habit of clinging onto food. When food gets stuck in the bands, it can contribute to plaque build-up.
And that’s it! We know it can be frustrating to deal with braces whether you’re an adult or a kid. In the end though, it will be worth it to have a smile you can be proud of!
Smile on, groovy folks!