Is Your Child’s Brushing Making the Grade?

Oral hygiene is incredibly important while in braces. Braces and other orthodontic appliances create additional hiding spots for food and plaque. If allowed to sit on teeth for an extended period of time, this food and plaque can result in swollen gums and even cavities. We at Walker Dixon Orthodontics believe so strongly in our patients maintaining great oral hygiene practices that we grade our patients’ oral hygiene at each visit, and always inform both the parent and the patient when oral hygiene is excellent and when it needs a little extra work.

Sometimes, a patient is unsure how to practice great oral hygiene. This can be due to the patient’s age. Younger patients have had less practice than older patients, or they strive for independence, and thus, do not want to ask for their parents for assistance. In other instances, patients simply forget due to a busy schedule filled with academics and athletics.

So, you may be wondering, how do I explain what good brushing looks like to my child who is either in braces, or will be in braces at some point in the future? Below, we have provided some guidelines to make it easier for you:

  1. Time: Children should spend at least 2 minutes brushing. Tip: to help ensure your child is brushing for a long enough time, try using an egg timer or find a fun 2 minute-long song to brush to.
  2. Technique: It is common for patients to brush just the front, lower surface of their teeth. Instruct your child to brush gently, but thoroughly along the gum-line as this is where food collects often. Also, stress the importance of brushing the back of the teeth as well. This is a commonly forgotten zone.
  3. Frequency: Brushing should occur at least twice a day for everyone (once in the morning and once at night before bed), though an additional brush after lunch is required for patients in braces. After lunch brushing prevents food from being trapped against the teeth and gums all afternoon.
  4. Flossing: Flossing is important for everyone, but it becomes especially critical for those in braces. Instruct your child in braces to floss after every meal. They can use floss threaders, or for a speedier flossing solution, pick up some orthodontic flossers such as Plackers.
  5. Rinsing: While not required, we always recommend patients use a fluoride rinse daily. This extra boost of fluoride is a great preventative measure for those in braces. Using a rinse nightly before bed can help reduce the risk of cavities and white marks while in braces. We recommend Phos Flur by Colgate, and sell it in our office at cost to our patients, though other fluoride rinses will work as well.

Following the above guidelines should result in an “A” grade for your child at their next appointment, and we encourage any parent or patient who has questions regarding hygiene to call our office or to ask in person at their visit. We are so committed to creating enthusiasm for great oral health, we even offer points in our rewards system to patients who put in the effort to maintain a healthy smile.
For questions regarding oral hygiene, orthodontics in general or to set up an exam, please call our office. For our Fishers office: 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location: 317-849-0110.

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