Cavities and tooth decay are among the world’s most common health issues, especially in children and teens. The risks of your child developing a cavity from inadequate brushing becomes even more likely if they are undergoing orthodontic treatment to straighten their smile.
The teenage years are a typical time when a person’s risk of developing dental cavities can be high, even if they have previously been cavity-free. Here’s what you can do to keep your child’s teeth as healthy and decay-free as possible while they wear braces.
Tooth Decay Risk Factors For Kids and Teens
While people of all ages are at risk of developing cavities, certain factors play a role in those who seem more susceptible to dental decay.
If you don’t clean your teeth or clean them properly, plaque begins to form quickly on the teeth, and the first stage of decay begins after eating and drinking. Proper brushing and flossing can be an extra challenge while cleaning around brackets and wires, which is why so many teens are diagnosed with tooth decay during and after braces.
Frequent Snacking and Sipping
When kids are consistently eating or drinking throughout the day, they’re enabling the bacteria in their mouth to produce acids that attack the teeth and wear down tooth enamel. Sipping soda or other sugary drinks gives your teeth a sugar bath with every sip.
Eating Certain Foods
A diet that consists of foods that cling to the teeth for a long time, like milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, dried fruits, nuts, cereals, and other starches, will quickly cause tooth decay because of the ways these foods linger on the teeth until they’re brushed, flossed, or rinsed away.
The saliva in the mouth prevents tooth decay by washing away food and plaque from the teeth. When experiencing dry mouth, you’re experiencing a lack of saliva, which helps wash away your teeth’ acids and bacteria.
Lack of Fluoride
Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth decay. Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride and partnering it with a mouth rinse helps give teeth an extra fluoride boost.
Making Daily Life With Braces Cavity-Proof
There are several simple ways you can help your child in preventing cavities while wearing braces.
- Ensure they brush their teeth at least twice a day, for a full two minutes focusing on brushing each tooth with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day to clean between the teeth to dislodge any left behind foods that lead to a cavity. Don’t skip the floss!
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash that will help restore lost tooth enamel and kill plaque-causing bacteria.
- Keep both the body mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Water also helps to create saliva – the body’s natural defense against plaque.
- Give up smoking or other tobacco use that is directly linked to poor oral hygiene.
- Visit the dentist every six months for cleanings and an exam to stay ahead of cavities before they turn into more significant, more expensive issues.
- Eat a balanced diet and avoid starches and sugars that stick to the surface of the teeth long after you’ve finished eating.
- If unable to brush after a snack or meal, always rinse the mouth with water immediately after to help wash away some of the left behind food and sugars.
Fighting Back Against Frequent Snacking and Sweets
If your child is someone who likes to indulge in a sweet tooth, give their teeth an extra boost to help fight cavities from their sugar addiction by:
- Brushing teeth often, especially after indulging in a sugary treat.
- Changing their toothbrush every three months.
- Using a rinse to help remove left-behind sugar and sticky residue.
- Try satisfying their sweet tooth with natural sugars found in fruits that are less likely to cling to the teeth and their surfaces.
The key to preventing cavities during orthodontic treatment is to focus on taking great care of teeth and gums by focusing on excellent at-home care. Thomas Orthodontics is here to help your child walk out of our office the day they get their braces off with a clean, cavity-free smile, so contact us today with any questions or concerns.