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mother brushing her teeth with her daughter

If you teach a child good oral hygiene habits early on, odds are that they will have better oral hygiene habits when they are teens and adults. As soon as a toddler gets their first tooth, it’s essential to start brushing and flossing their teeth. Afterwards, you will need to teach them the basics of good oral hygiene practices, especially when it comes to wearing braces. Find out what those basics are and what you should be thinking about for your child’s oral health!

 

Teaching Good Oral Hygiene Early

Good oral hygiene habits are essential for a healthy mouth and especially during orthodontic care. Many children need early orthodontics, which is also known as “child orthodontics”. This is when bite and alignment issues are corrected around age 7 or 8 to avoid serious problems later on. However, we hope that every child has good oral hygiene habits established well before this visit. Otherwise, not only will a child be dealing with bite and alignment issues, but they will also be dealing with tooth decay.

 

As soon as your child gets their first tooth as a baby, you need to start brushing that tooth. Brush it morning and night with a rice-size amount of fluoride toothpaste. Also make sure to clean your baby’s gums with a wet cloth after feedings. Once they start to grow, begin teaching them how to brush their teeth properly. You will have to help brush your child’s teeth for the first couple of years until they have the dexterity in their hands to do it themselves. Flossing will come later as more teeth come in.

 

two small boys brushing their teeth

Learning to Brush

Brushing the teeth is one of the most important habits a child can have. Brushing long enough is key for a healthy mouth. Make sure you get a toothbrush that fits the size of your child’s mouth. There are brushes for infants, toddlers, children, teens and adults. All will be different sizes and some children brushes will come in fun shapes and colors to help children brush.

 

Children can’t always tell how long they have been brushing. Having them brush their teeth for a duration of a song or brushing your teeth alongside them to make sure they brush long enough. When they are old enough to have braces, brushing is even more important than before to avoid tooth decay. Food that gets stuck in brackets can cause rapid decay. Make sure they brush longer and at different angles to dislodge food. When children are first learning, brush with them as many days as it takes when first learning to brush their teeth. Do the same when they learn to brush with braces.

 

Flossing 101

Children won’t have to floss until they are toddlers. The baby teeth are spaced out until they all come in. Kids will have a total of 20 baby teeth that will start to come closer together as a baby ages. Until a child has the dexterity to use floss like an adult, it’s smart to invest in flossers. These are secure, hand-held flossing tools that children can put in between their teeth to easily dislodge food. Ask us about mouthwash and fluoride products to see if they should be part of your child’s oral hygiene routine as well.

 

See a Dentist and Orthodontist

Starting from an early age, children need to start visiting the dentist. By age 7, they should see us for an orthodontic exam as well. Dental visits themselves are so important that most dental insurances cover those twice-a-year visits. These biannual visits generally consist of comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. At first, children may be nervous about visiting a dentist. Offices can be large with busy equipment that children aren’t familiar with. Dental tools can also be loud, which can make children nervous. However, these visits are nothing to worry about whether it is a dentist or orthodontist.

 

To help your child get used to being in an office, make sure you go to a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist while they are young. Pediatric offices (such as our orthodontic one) has staff that is trained to work well with children. Dr. Hardyl has experience with children on a daily basis. He was trained in both dentistry and orthodontics and can spot the signs of dental issues early-on. His staff knows what kids worry about and they know how to explain dental and orthodontic terms so a child can understand. An exam sounds serious, but it’s really just Dr. Hardy looking inside your child’s mouth for any bite, alignment or dental problems. If a child hasn’t seen Dr. Hardy by age 7, make sure to get them in for an examination!

 

A hygienist teaching a small girl how to brush teeth correctly

Good Habits for Life

Start children out young when teaching them good oral hygiene. If you make a habit of brushing and flossing, children will see that example and will follow it. When you help them learn good oral hygiene habits as soon as they can talk and understand, they can start keeping their mouth clean themselves. There are many resources online to help teach children specifics of brushing, flossing, and for learning about dental hygiene. We help children every day with brushing, flossing, caring for braces and establishing good oral hygiene. Call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 with any and all questions you have about your child’s oral health. Let us help you as you and your child learn to establish good oral hygiene habits together!

 

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oral hygiene

Millions of Americans don’t practice good oral hygiene, which is the #1 reason teeth decay and fall out. Good oral hygiene coupled with good nutrition can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay and even bad breath. It will also help us to be able to straighten your teeth without damage and provide you with a more brilliant, beautiful smile. There are many tips for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Many of these tips have to do with nutrition and overall good oral hygiene. Good nutrition can aid in better health for you and for your teeth. We want all of our patients to be able to achieve a healthy mouth, but the first steps begin before you even come to our office. At Belmar Orthodontics, learn more about good oral hygiene and how orthodontic care can help you!

 

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Sometimes, the basics are the hardest to do because they seem so simple. You skip brushing one night, then you do it again, and soon it starts to become a habit. When it comes to braces, we see patients skip on the basics here and there all the time. Why? This is most likely because braces take a little bit longer to care for than teeth without braces. Skipping on proper brushing and flossing can seriously damage and erode the tooth enamel.

 

The Prevalence of Decay

We recommend brushing and flossing at least twice a day, if not more. After every meal would be ideal, but not everyone makes a habit of doing that. What happens when you don’t brush and floss the teeth properly? You develop dental caries. The American Dental Association reports that 91% of adults 20 years old and older have had dental caries. 27% had untreated tooth decay. What does this mean? It means that 91% of people have had cavities and 27% had untreated cavities that will continue decaying. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that dental caries is the most prevalent chronic disease in the United States in both children and adults. The sad part? It’s completely preventable.

 

Tooth decay occurs when proper oral hygiene practices are not followed. When we eat and drink, bacteria in the mouth mixes with sugar to make acidic plaque. That plaque coats your teeth and over time, erodes the hard tooth enamel. Inside the tooth is a soft, pulpy center that contains nerves and sensitive parts of the tooth. When hygiene practices are skipped, that plaque will erode the teeth enough to break down the enamel and seep into the soft, pulpy center. It will then have a heyday and cause as much decay as it possibly can. Mild tooth decay will result in fillings for cavities. Severe tooth decay will result in a root canal or a dental extraction.  The great part about all of this? Tooth decay is completely preventable! All you have to do is take care of your oral health!

 

Be Extra Careful with Braces

Braces make cleaning the teeth slightly more tricky, but definitely not impossible! With braces, you generally have brackets that are glued to each tooth. A wire connects those brackets on the upper and lower jaws. Brackets and wires in your mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck. This leads to other dental issues if proper care is not taken. Here are some tips to help prevent tooth decay:

  • Brush after every meal. Brushing will help prevent staining and will reduce the potential for bacteria buildup. Food can easily become trapped in the brackets and can erode the tooth enamel around the brackets. Make sure to use a soft brush to brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each bracket and tooth.
  • Use a floss threader. You can’t skip flossing when it comes to braces as it’s even more important now than ever. Tooth decay often happens between the teeth with braces. Using a floss threader will allow you to insert the floss through the teeth and above or below the wire. This allows you to clean effectively in between each tooth. Do this several times a day!
  • Avoid certain foods. Hard foods are a no-no with braces and can break brackets or become stuck in the teeth. Avoid hard candy, chips, ice, apples, crusty bread, nuts, popcorn, corn on the cob, carrots and any other hard candies. Avoid chewy candies or foods such as caramel, toffee, taffy, starbursts, licorice, tootsie rolls, gummy bears and more. For a more comprehensive list of food items, you can always call our office.

 

Over 64 million Americans suffer from gum disease, tooth loss and tooth decay. Poor dental hygiene and tooth decay make orthodontic care that much harder to perform. The point is to get your smile straight and beautiful without making it weaker. Our orthodontic techniques are effective and strong when it comes to getting your teeth in proper position. We want all our patients to have beautiful, straight and strong smiles. It’s vital that you follow proper oral hygiene practices every single day and that you double your efforts while wearing braces. If you need help with your oral hygiene routine or braces maintenance, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016.