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Having braces is often a serious challenge for adolescents. Not only do they have to contend with the social stigma and the jeers of their peers, but they also must adhere to a stringent dental hygiene routine. While your tweens might complain every step of the way, it’s still incumbent on you to make sure they take proper care of their teeth during this pivotal time in their development. Braces make standard dental hygiene practices more difficult, and they also necessitate additional caution and the avoidance of certain foods. It can be difficult to force your kids to maintain good habits, but you need to stay vigilant if you want them to have healthy teeth in the long run. These are the five dental practices to insist on as long as your tween has their dental braces.

Brushing Twice A Day

Daily brushing is important at any stage of life, but it’s especially vital for young people with braces. Brackets tend to trap food particles against the teeth, which can cause plaque buildup, cavities, and other issues. Brushing is the simplest and easiest way to remove this debris. Each brushing session should last two minutes and target the areas both above and below the brackets. Buy your child a soft brush that won’t harm the braces and fluoride toothpaste that offers maximum protection.

Flossing Around The Braces

Flossing is definitely more difficult with braces, but that’s no legitimate excuse for a child seeking to abandon the practice. When an adolescent fails to floss, they’re putting themselves at risk of inflammation and even gum disease. Threading floss above the brackets to reach the gums takes a bit of practice and would even test the patience of a monk. Be gentle with your child, accepting that the process is often frustrating. After a while, they’ll get the hang of it.

Using An Oral Irrigator

You know those tools that dentists use to rinse your teeth? The ones that shoot out the tiny jets of water? Well, you can buy this tool, called an oral irrigator within the industry, and have your child use it at home. This handy device will make it possible to reach those awkward parts of the mouth that brushes and floss can’t access. It takes a little getting used to, but once your tween gets a hang of it they’ll be able to clean their teeth much more effectively. By the time they get their braces off, they’ll be just as good with the irrigator as an experienced dental hygienist.

Checking For Food Particles In The Mirror

After brushing, flossing, and using an oral irrigator, your child should check their teeth in the mirror to make sure they didn’t miss anything. Sometimes, small food particles remain wedged beside the brackets or beneath the wires. Encourage your child to attack any remaining bits with renewed bouts of brushing. Only when their mouth is visibly clean should they consider themselves done with their dental hygiene routine.

Avoiding Certain Foods

In addition to the dental hygiene tasks listed above, your child should also avoid eating certain foods that could harm their braces or negatively impact their dental health. Popcorn, nuts, and chewy candy could get trapped behind the brackets, making cleaning almost impossible and seriously harming the teeth. Apples, ice, and chewing gum, meanwhile, can snap the wires or bust the brackets, making costly repairs necessary. If your child complains about giving up their favorite foods, remind them that it’s for their own good and should only last a couple years.