Monday, August 27, 2012

Oral hygiene, Orthodontics and your Child

At RiteBite Orthodontics, we do everything we can to encourage our patients to maintain excellent oral hygiene throughout orthodontic treatment so they can have a beautiful result after treatment that they can be truly proud of. The bottom line is that it is up to the patient to motivate themselves to take care of their teeth; easier said than done!

We understand that braces are a huge investment of both time and money for our patients and parents. With that being said, many parents become frustrated as they try to help their children understand that braces are not ‘a luxury’ that their own parents could afford to provide them with when they were youngsters. We often hear “you don't know how good you have it… I would have given anything to have braces when I was your age!” Try to think about things from their perspective. Kids often don't understand that they only get one set of adult teeth to last them a lifetime. For example, if they are six and have a cavity on one of their baby teeth, let them know: “If you already have a cavity on your baby tooth, that lets you know you have to take even better care of your adult teeth because they have to last you the rest of your life!”

It is important that we spend a lot of time educating our patients about the effects of not maintaining proper oral hygiene throughout orthodontic treatment. One of the most common culprits is demineralization stain. Demineralization stains are permanent white scars that can form in the shape of the bracket, often caused by plaque sitting around the bracket for long periods of time. When patients come in for regular appointments and we point out demineralization staining around the brackets, many are defensive; we often hear “I plan to have my teeth whitened when I am finished my treatment.” Although this is a great idea for many, we have to remind our patients that you cannot whiten away demineralization stain.

Enough about the teeth, what about those gums?

We try to highlight one major point to all of our patients: Healthy gums never hurt and never bleed. All too often people make excuses for themselves: “I don't floss because it hurts/bleeds,” but what many don't understand is that if they only brushed and flossed more diligently, that hurting/bleeding would subside. Particularly during orthodontic treatment, puffiness and bleeding of the gingiva can be more common due to the gums becoming irritated from the tooth movements, and all of the wires and brackets making plaque build-up more of a problem.

Most patients can't justify spending the time and effort to brush and floss their teeth as much as we tell them to because quite simply, they didn't really like their teeth before they had braces, so it is labouring to take care of something so diligently that you don't even like! We often remind our patients that they will LOVE their teeth when they are finished their braces, so it is important to take care of them now, otherwise they will wish that they had! Remember: braces are not forever, so encourage your child to make the best of it while they are in treatment, and they will have a smile that you can all be proud of in no time!
By: Jennifer Drever, RDH