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Keeping Gums Healthy during Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment is a milestone for many kids and can help them attain a healthy, aligned smile in the future. Because it is also a costly investment, it’s important that kids with braces learn how to care for their teeth and gums throughout their treatment. Many are surprised to learn that braces can be a contributing factor in the development of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, that affects up to 50% of children and adolescents.

With brackets and wires, there are many more corners and crevices for food and plaque to accumulate. This unfortunately increases the risk of tooth decay and gum problems. Orthodontists typically provide detailed dental care instruction to young patients and their caregivers. However, extra effort is necessary throughout treatment to maintain healthy teeth and gums. For those who do get into the habit of meticulous dental care, they will not only be rewarded with straight teeth, but also with healthy gums.  

Daily Dental Care with Braces

It’s important to stress to children with braces that it’s necessary to pay special attention to teeth and gums, as well as the brackets and wires. Fluoride toothpaste should be used with a toothbrush at a 45- degree angle against the gums. Hard-bristled, nylon brush should be avoided because they can damage fragile gum tissue and tooth enamel.

Gingivitis is common during orthodontic treatment because it can be difficult to remove food and plaque. This is why extra care is necessary with cleaning. Kid with braces should be encouraged to spend about 10 seconds brushing each tooth, gently brushing along the gum line where the gums and teeth meet, using a circular motion. It’s important to brush both the inside and the outside surfaces of the teeth.

Braces-Friendly Food

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Tooth enamel is particular vulnerable throughout orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists typically recommend that their patients avoid acidic food and drinks that can damage enamel. These include soft drinks, fruit juice, pineapples, oranges, pickles, vinaigrette dressings and salsas. Starchy foods, such as potato chips, can also stick to teeth and cause tooth decay and erosion of enamel.

Along with reducing intake of acidic food and drinks, it’s also important to avoid certain foods that can break or loosen orthodontic wires and bands. These include nuts, hard cookies and candy, apples and carrots. Likewise, sticky foods should be avoided, such as toffee, caramel, fruit bars and gum. Habits such as pencil chewing, nail biting, and tongue thrusting can also be potentially damaging.

It’s a simple fact that additional dental care is needed during orthodontic treatment, and this can be challenging for kids who are not enthusiastic about dental care. However, parents can help by not only encouraging good brushing techniques, but also providing the necessary tools for brushing and flossing.

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Dr. Jack Gruber, DDS

Dr. Jack Gruber, DDS is a renowned periodontist whose experience spans over 40 years as a pioneer in periodontal medicine. He is a leading authority in the silent epidemic of gum recession and gum disease, which impacts more than 75% of adults over the age of 35. Dr. Gruber maintains an active private practice and has treated thousands of patients with all forms of periodontal disease. Dr. Gruber is also an accomplished periodontal surgeon and trains dentists on how to excel in their craft. He also is an award-winning instructor, lecturer, and researcher who contributes immeasurably to the field of Dentistry and the health of his patients. Dr. Gruber is also the creator of the PeriClean Ultra Soft Toothbrush, which he developed after an overwhelming number of patients had been coming to him with receding gums primarily due to aggressively over brushing their teeth and gums with a standard nylon toothbrush. The PeriClean is the first complete redesign of the conventional nylon bristled toothbrush in over 77 years.