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Orthodontic care is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Braces are an investment in your child’s oral health and appearance for life, but they can cause minor complications if families don’t pay attention to basic dental hygiene and follow-up care. We know that the benefits of high-quality orthodontic care outweigh any drawbacks and most complications can be avoided by strong, positive communication with your orthodontist and active engagement from your child.
What Are Some Complications With Braces?
It’s a little ironic, but sometimes the braces that are helping to straighten your child’s bite can make basic dental care more challenging. Teeth with braces can be harder to clean, and brackets can be magnets for bacteria, so good oral hygiene is more important than ever once those braces go on. Patients and families also need to be heavily engaged with their follow-up care to avoid undermining bite correction progress.
Here are some of the issues that can come up during orthodontic care:
- Loss of minerals in the teeth can cause white stains when braces are removed. This is caused by plaque that tends to collect around the brackets.
- Cavities and decay can occur around brackets when food particles aren’t properly removed.
- Some patients get minor injuries to cheeks, lips or gums if they come into contact with the brackets.
- Loss of correction: this is the term we use when the positive change in your child’s bite gets wiped out by lack of follow-up care. Your orthodontist works to avoid loss of correction with regular adjustments and care with a retainer when the braces come off.
From basic oral hygiene and routine dental care to essential orthodontic follow-up, here are some tips for avoiding problems with braces:
- Your child will learn to apply orthodontic wax to her brackets to keep them from causing pain to cheeks and gums.
- Brush carefully and floss regularly, with extra attention to the areas around the brackets.
- Use a fluoride rinse as directed by your orthodontist.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks like sodas and hard candies–these can contribute to discoloration and decay.
- Remember to schedule your child’s regular dental check-ups in addition to your orthodontist appointments.
- Wear a mouthguard for sports to prevent injury to the mouth from brackets and protect your braces from damage.
- Be mindful in your approach to follow-up orthodontic care. Stick with your regular appointments and adjustments while braces are on, and make sure your child wears their retainer as directed by your orthodontist after braces come off.
Creating a Relationship with Your Orthodontist is Key
Complications can happen during orthodontic care, but in most cases, these problems are a result of a child not following instructions for maintenance and follow-up care. Clear directions from your provider are crucial. It helps to have a child-friendly orthodontist who can communicate with your child about what they need to do and why. It’s always much better when your child feels comfortable listening and interacting with the orthodontist so they can take control of their own oral hygiene. This tends to be more effective than mom or dad telling them what they need to do. Engaging your child in follow-up care is an important way to make sure orthodontic care is successful, and rewards and games can play a big role in fostering this engagement. At NOVA Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, our rewards system brings young patients fully into their orthodontic care and leads to positive outcomes for families.
Whole Mouth Care at NOVA Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
Another important way to avoid complications is to incorporate routine dental care with orthodontic care. In some cases, families get wrapped up in the flurry of orthodontic appointments and forget about regular cleanings. But your dentist and orthodontist play very different roles, and it’s important to remember regular dental appointments too.
Finding a practice where pediatric dental care and orthodontics happen in the same office means for better communication all around and can help prevent some of those nagging complications related to braces. We’re able to take engagement between providers–and between providers and patients–to a whole new level. And this means better outcomes for all.