Teens with braces often tend to slack on dental hygiene—perhaps this is one reason they are a high-risk age group for developing gingivitis (the beginnings of serious gum disease). You don’t want to be constantly nagging them to brush and floss, so how can you get them to motivate themselves? It isn’t easy to know how to take care of teeth with braces; but we have some tips that will help!
These tips touch on things that are important to all teens, but especially those with braces. Motivate your teens develop good dental habits that will last them for life!
Tip #1: Fresh Breath
Help your teen recognize these things and they just might be more willing to keep their teeth clean:
- Many studies have been done that demonstrate that bad breath is one of the greatest deterrents in attractiveness.
- One of the best ways to get good breath (and a healthy mouth) is to floss before you brush.
Your teens can keep their bad breath bacteria under control if they are flossing before brushing. If they floss first they are also more likely to floss and brush because they won’t get the rewarding fresh feeling until after they brush.
You might suggest that they take some flossers to school to share with their buddies after lunch. If they have braces, make sure you send them with some of the following items too.
Flossing with Braces
Many teens with braces hate flossing. Here are some tools that can make flossing easier (and more likely to happen).
- Superfloss: Superfloss is pre-cut floss that is stiff on one end, enabling your teen to thread it between the wires without any problems. It also has a spongy section that cleans around brackets.
- Proxy Brush: A proxy brush’s tiny bristles clean between teeth and brackets. It slides easily between the teeth and wires. (The smallest size is best for teens.)
- Bridge Threader: This giant plastic, flexible needle is the most basic help for threading floss between the wires and the teeth.
Tip #2: Clue them in
Teens are likely to start drinking more sodas and energy drinks. Let them know about the American Dental Association’s warning to teens, “When you consume sugary foods, soda, juice or energy drinks, you put yourself at risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Be smart.”
When your teens do drink soda, encourage them to get cans instead of bottles with lids. This will encourage them to drink it all in one sitting instead of re-coating their teeth in sugar every 20-30 minutes with each sip.
Tip #3: Regular Fluoride Varnish for Teens with Braces
Remind your teen that if they don’t take care of their teeth, decay (hidden by the braces) will be very evident when the braces are removed. Perhaps the lack of appeal in the reveal will motivate them to do the things we talked about above.
Whether or not it does, regular fluoride varnishes are a great idea for anyone with braces. This can give their teeth extra protection for up to 12 weeks. Fluoride varnish is part of our routine cleaning at Elevated Dental.
The habits your teens develop will last them through their entire lives. By helping them keep their teeth in good shape (especially through braces) you can dramatically decrease their chances of dental problems in the future. As with much of your good parenting during teen years, remind yourself: They will thank you later!!