Do I need to bring my child to see the orthodontists? This is a common question from many of my younger patients’ parents. As with baby teeth, adult teeth erupt at different stages. Some children also have different developmental growth when it comes to their palate and jaw. As part of every child's clinical exam we evaluate their occlusion/ bite; checking for what teeth they do or don’t have, as well as how their front teeth and back molars come together. We monitor this information as they grow and adult teeth erupt. Depending on how things are developing, as well as their age, we may refer them for early, interceptive treatment to help expand the palate and guide teeth into proper position, or we will wait until all adult teeth are erupted.
Once your child is seeing an orthodontist it's important to know that homecare does become more difficult, but it's extremely important to keep teeth and gums healthy during treatment. Many orthodontist recommend certain tools and rinses to help make your child’s homecare routine a little easier. There are also food and beverage restrictions to be aware of during orthodontic treatment.
Food / Beverage Restrictions:
Hard, crunchy, sticky foods could cause brackets to break or bend leading to longer treatment time. A few examples include; toasted bagels, pizza crust, carrots, pears and apples. You can still eat these items you just may want to cut them into smaller pieces first. Difficult foods to clean out of brackets include; corn on the cob, and biting meat off the bone. Again, you can still eat these items but you need to cut them off the cob or the bone and eat them in smaller bites. Other foods to beware of that are not recommended while wearing braces are sticky candy, sour candies, gum, and popcorn.
Water is the best option for everyone in general, but with braces you really need to be aware of what you are drinking as acidic beverages like sports drinks, soda, lemonade, and ice tea all lower the pH levels making your mouth more acidic, which can erode the tooth enamel. These types of beverages are a larger concern because of plaque collection around your brackets which could leave pitted areas and discoloration when your braces come off. I would also be cautious with coffee beverages, especially if you put sugar in your coffee. If you need to drink any of the above while wearing braces I recommend drinking through a straw and not sipping over a long duration.
Recommended Homecare Tools:
Flouride Rinse - ACT is commonly recommended and some orthodontists give a prescription
Flouride toothpaste - some children who are high risk for decay may need a prescription toothpaste.
Don’t be afraid to ask your dental provider if you have questions or concerns. Also, make sure you discuss your child's homecare with their dental provider, it's important as a parent to know what your child may need to work on and tools that can help them accomplish these goals. We all want our children to be responsible for their own oral cavity, but most of the time children with orthodontic treatment are between 8-18 and they are not always good at managing their dental homecare. In addition to proper oral homecare another good option is to have more frequent cleanings to help remove the sticky plaque that gets caught around brackets and molar bands.