No child—or parent for that matter—looks forward to braces. In fact, many start the countdown for when braces come off right after they come on. Yet when it comes to getting their braces off in a timely fashion, many children are their own worst enemy if they don’t stay on top of their brushing, flossing and overall oral hygiene.
“When a child with braces has a cavity, it calls for the orthodontist to remove the bracket so the dentist can fix it. Then it’s back to the orthodontist to replace the bracket. Given the schedule of the child/parents and the dentist and orthodontist, this can lengthen the time needed for braces,” said Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD, a South Weymouth, MA dentist whose practice is located at 1121 Main Street. “Since many children are starting braces at a fairly young age, 10 to 12, it puts even greater emphasis on their daily care.”
Said Dr. Wolfert, “We coordinate with the orthodontist to recommend that patients brush and floss after every time they eat. This is not always easy for patients to do at school, but it’s imperative they brush and floss as soon as they get home.”
Dr. Wolfert recommends strictly adhering to visits to the dentist every six months for a cleaning. “There’s a tendency for patients and parents to think that if they are regularly seeing the orthodontist that it’s like they are going to the dentist. I honestly recommend that during the treatment that the patient come in every three months, but at least every six because then we can monitor their home care a little closer to avoid issues.”
Added Dr. Wolfert, “We do get blow back on this recommendation because of the insurance company only ‘paying for’ two cleanings a year and an application of fluoride once a year, but really if the treatment is over in two years it’s not that much more out of pocket to protect the parents’ investment and your child’s teeth.”
In lieu of increased visits, an alternative could be the use of Prevident or ClinPro 5000 at least once a day, preferably before bedtime. The fluoride prevents the enamel from breaking down and resulting in a cavity.
“Children still need fluoride to develop the enamel of their teeth and as a preventative measure against cavities,” said Dr. Wolfert. “Having braces during a critical period in a child’s oral development—10 to 15—increases that need.”
Dr. Wolfert also encourages strict adherence to time spent brushing. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for one to two minutes per brushing, with the preference being for two minutes. Since food is more likely to get stuck in braces, brushing at least two minutes each time a patient brushes is key. If that’s an issue for your child, toothbrushes (Sonicare) with timers are available.
“There’s some debate about whether children start braces too early or not. I choose to look at braces as not only a great opportunity for patients to create a great smile for life but to develop the oral hygiene habits that will set them up for healthy teeth for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Wolfert.