Did your teen head back to school with braces this year? If so, you may already be hearing complaints from your teen about how frustrating and embarrassing it is when food gets stuck in their braces during the school day.
Keeping braces clean while on the go can be a huge challenge, especially if your teen doesn’t have the right hygiene tools or understand proper cleaning technique. Sure, teens don’t want to lug around a superstore’s worth of oral hygiene products. It’s uncool and downright awkward. Here’s the good news: a small “go kit” can hold all the essentials your teen needs for a quick cleaning at school without risking social embarrassment.
Here’s what your teen needs to know about keeping braces clean:
1. Brush or rinse after every meal. Brushing with braces is important not just in the morning and night, but also after every meal. This includes lunch or snacks at school, too. If there’s no opportunity to brush teeth privately in the bathroom between classes, rinsing is the next best option. Thoroughly rinse the mouth with water to remove any loose food particles lodged between the metal brackets, wires and teeth. A quick rinse will also help to remove sugar from the teeth’s surface.
2. Try a proxy brush. Our orthodontists recommend flossing at least once a day. But flossing with braces can be a real pain, especially during a short lunch break at school. When food is stuck between the gums, braces and teeth, the proxy brush – an alternative to flossing – may be able to help. A proxy brush is a Christmas-tree shaped brush that is designed to fit between tight spaces in the mouth. As your teen gently slides the brush back and forth, the tiny bristles will dislodge food particles and gently massage the gums. A proxy brush is tiny and discrete, easily fits into a “go kit” (see our must-have components below), and is a quick, easy-to-use solution during a busy school day.
3. Carry a “go kit”. Set your teen up for success with an oral hygiene “go kit” that includes a travel toothbrush, travel toothpaste and proxy brushes or floss threaders. Discretely store these oral hygiene essentials in a small, discrete toiletries kit. Your teen can head to the bathroom for a quick brush-up after lunch without any fear of social embarrassment.
4. Practice makes perfect. Talk to your teen about proper brushing technique. This includes brushing at a 45-degree angle at the junction between the tooth and gum. Brush in a circular motion for at least two minutes. And as tempting as it may be, remind your teen NOT to pick at his or her braces! Doing so increases the risk that brackets or wires may pop off, ending in an unexpected emergency orthodontist visit.
5. Invest in an electric brush. While your teen won’t be bringing an electric toothbrush to school, it may be a worthy investment for at-home care. The same goes for oral irrigation devices like the Water-Pik, which allows users to “floss” with a strong stream of water. These at-home tools will help your teen build a dedicated oral cleaning habit– and they’ll be more likely to keep up the good work during the school day.
Our orthodontics team understands that braces are a significant investment, which is why caring for them is equally important! Improper or inadequate oral hygiene increases the risk for white spots or marks on the teeth when the brackets are removed, as well as gingivitis and periodontal disease. At Docbraces, we’re committed to giving teens and parents the resources they need to support good oral health for years to come.
For more information on how to care for braces, download the free eBook guide – How to Care for Your Braces: A Guide for New Patients.