3 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Smile During the Braces Phase
By Heather Delaney Reese, It’s a Lovely Life
Good dental hygiene is important at all ages, but especially during the teen and tween years when many children are going through the treatment of straightening their teeth. Since my teens have both had treatment – one with metal braces and the other with clear aligners – we have learned simple tips to keep their teeth clean and looking their best.
My oldest had braces for over three years. That was three, long years of having to be extra careful with her teeth, but it was worth it for the end result of her beautiful smile. Although the first couple weeks were the hardest, we quickly learned some practical tips for managing the braces phase to keep both their teeth and gums clean.
1. My first tip is to create a regular routine for your teen – reminding them to brush, floss and use mouthwas as directed every morning, night and after each meal. Once a system or routine is in place, it becomes second nature and it is just something they do. This helps everyone as there won't be as many reminders needed and your teen will be able to see the results of taking care of their teeth right away.
For our daughters’ routine, we have an area set up by their sink with a toothbrush, mouthwash and floss. I make sure that they always have extra set of everything too, so that they won't run out. They know to take care of their teeth and gums first thing in the morning, after eating throughout the day and at night before bed. To them, it isn't even something they think about much anymore; it is just something they do out of habit.
My oldest has been using LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ZERO FRESH MINT Anticavity Mouthwash, which is her favorite because it keeps her breath fresh without the intense minty flavor. It’s already hard to floss with braces, so she knows she can count on mouthwash to help tackle those hard-to-reach places.
2. Another tip is to have your teen prepared for when they’re on-the-go. While gum may be the go-to for others, having braces makes chewing gum less fun. Instead, my oldest likes to keep mints in her bag to keep her breath fresh and clean. And for those times when you’re not home to brush, keep travel-sized products in your bag. They become a lifesaver when you least expect it!
3. And last, but certainly not least, empower them to be the keepers of their healthy smile! Encourage them to ask their dentist and orthodontist questions. Let them know that they are the ones that will reap the benefits of having a good system in place to take care of their dental needs.
Be sure to really celebrate their victories. When they get a good dental care report after a visit with the orthodontist, make sure they know how happy you are with them and their dedication to taking care of themselves. A little praise over their good choices can go a long way!
Of course, we want our children to have healthy teeth and bodies, but we also want them to be happy and confident. Good oral hygiene is an important aspect of feeling your best! The most important step in dental hygiene with braces is that you have to have a system in place and the right tools with you at all times.
Remember to keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. Do not swallow. Remember to always read and follow product label, and be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Heather Delaney Reese is a paid spokesperson for the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® Program