How Wearing Braces Headgear Affects Your Teeth Cleaning

Dealing with orthodontic issues is difficult for children at the best of times. When your child has to wear braces headgear, you could find that you have a lot of extra issues to consider, including the ways in which it affects teeth cleaning. One thing you can't allow to lapse is oral hygiene, and it can be confusing to know what products to use and how you can help your child maintain a good home care routine.

Regular Daily Cleaning

Daily teeth cleaning is important while your child is wearing braces or any other type of orthodontic appliance. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, patients who wear braces should brush after every meal or snack.

Your child should brush using a soft-bristled, toothbrush held at an angle and touching the gum line. Ensure that your child brushes each tooth for about 10 strokes using slow, back and forth motions at the gums and around the brackets as well as circular motions to remove plaque and food debris. Try to avoid putting pressure on the archwires of the braces. Your child should brush between individual teeth making sure the bristles are placed there. You may have to replace toothbrushes more often because of the appliance, but it's a small price to pay for maintaining good oral hygiene.

Using Dental Products

Flossing is almost as important as brushing, but it's difficult when your child has to wear the type of fixed orthodontic appliances that usually accompany braces headgear. If your child wears one of these kinds of braces, try using an interdental toothbrush instead of flossing. RDH Magazine describes an interdental toothbrush as thin, with a round or cone-shaped brush section that makes it possible to reach between the teeth to remove food particles. The bristles are held on by wire, and the brush is used and rinsed just like a regular toothbrush.

Finish the teeth cleaning routine with an anti-cavity rinse that contains fluoride, such as the Colgate® Phos-Flur® Anti-Cavity Fluoride Rinse, which will help to prevent the white spots that wearing braces can leave on teeth. It's both alcohol- and sugar-free, so it won't affect your child adversely even if dietary restrictions are a concern. The rinse is a prescription-only product, however, so your dentist or orthodontist will determine whether it's needed for your child. The bonus is that health insurance may cover the cost.

Removing Braces Headgear

It's not usually necessary for kids to remove braces headgear for teeth cleaning, and it's possible for them to clean their teeth thoroughly without taking it off. Your child will need to remove the headgear frequently for other reasons, though, so your best bet is to teach him how to do it himself. Headgear typically is worn for at least 12 to 14 hours a day including through the night, but you must ensure that it's removed and cleaned if it gets dirty. Your orthodontist will be able to show you how to do so.

Wearing braces headgear shouldn't be a reason for poor oral hygiene provided your child follows the orthodontist's advice and uses the right type of products and equipment.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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  • Swish with water before brushing – instruct your child to rinse with water after eating. This will loosen food that may be caught in the braces, then brush thoroughly.
  • Floss once a day – each night help your child floss. Flossing helps loosen food debris and plaque at and under the gum line that would otherwise harden into tartar. It can also help reach the nooks and crannies in the teeth that might be difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
  • Use a fluoride rinse – after brushing and before bed have your child rinse with fluoride rinse to help keep teeth strong and healthy
  • Dental visits every six months – take your child to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months. The dentist can point out areas that need more attention, and help make sure you're keeping your child’s teeth healthy and clean.

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