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How Wearing Braces Headgear Affects Your Teeth Cleaning

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

While dealing with orthodontic issues can be challenging for children at the best of times, a new level of frustration may arise when cleaning. Orthodontic appliances require daily maintenance, so it's normal for children or teenagers to find the commitment to this work difficult at first. We don't blame them! That's why learning how to help your child adapt to cleaning their teeth and their new orthodontic appliance, especially when wearing headgear for braces, is essential. Let's go over how best to take care of braces headgear so you and your family can make a plan for the best course of action!

Headgear may be necessary for the proper growth and alignment of your child's jaw and bite. While your child's orthodontist places braces directly on the teeth to correct them, your child wears headgear on the outside of their mouth. To make headgear worth their time and effort, it's essential for your child to adhere to wearing it. So helping your child learn how to clean it will help them adjust to this temporary way of life.

Regular Daily Cleaning

A robust oral health routine, including daily brushing, is essential in fighting against cavities, especially when your child is wearing braces or any other orthodontic appliance type. Did you know that if your child wears braces, they should brush their teeth after every meal or snack? This will help keep their braces free of any food, bacteria, or plaque buildup, as these materials can likely get stuck in a dental appliance if left unbrushed.

We recommend giving your child a brush with soft bristles and instructing them to hold their toothbrush at an angle, brushing each tooth with about ten slow strokes from the gums to around the brackets. Note that 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

While brushing is essential for everyone, whether they have an orthodontic appliance or not, you may be wondering how to specifically clean headgear for braces. Flossing is critical. Try using a floss threader or an interdental toothbrush instead of flossing. An interdental toothbrush has a thin plastic handle with a round or cone-shaped brush section. Its structure makes it possible to reach between the teeth and around the appliance to remove food particles. A water irrigator can also be very helpful in removing pesky food debris left between your teeth.

Your child should finish cleaning their teeth with a mouthrinse containing fluoride, another preventive measure to prevent cavities and the white spots of decalcification that can develop from wearing braces. It can be both alcohol and sugar-free. So it won't affect your child, even if dietary restrictions are concerns. However, this type of mouthrinse is a prescription-only product, so your child's dental professional will determine whether it's needed.

Removing Braces Headgear

It's not usually necessary for kids to remove braces headgear when cleaning their teeth. They will need to remove the headgear for other reasons, though, so your best bet is to teach them how to do it themselves. Headgear typically is worn for at least 12 to 14 hours a day, 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 and headgear shouldn't be a reason for poor oral hygiene. We know it can be overwhelming at first for your child to adapt to this new way of life, but it's not forever! Remind them that the hard work they put in now will pay off with a gorgeously aligned smile. And the oral health habits they begin in their youth will carry with them through adulthood, mitigating tooth decay chances later on. We recommend speaking with your child's dental professionals - dentist, dental hygienist, and orthodontist - about an oral care plan. This will ensure you have an oral care routine that's designed for your child's specific needs.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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