At our practice, we love helping patients of all ages achieve their best smiles. But orthodontic care is only one component of a smile you love. At home, parents can help children set up healthy habits for life. Here are our top tips to support your child before and during treatment!
Begin healthy habits early
When it comes to oral health, there’s no such thing as starting too early. Experts recommend that children visit the dentist for the first time once their first tooth comes in or when they turn 1 year old. For children, biannual visits and excellent at-home care can help ensure cavity-free teeth and a positive attitude about oral hygiene. Your pediatric dentist may also be able to spot potential orthodontic problems early, like losing baby teeth prematurely.
Though braces are often associated with teenagers, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing in your child to an orthodontist by the time they turn 7 years old—or earlier if recommended. At that age, our team can identify potential problems before they worsen or develop. Unlike with adults, children are still growing. We can work with a child’s natural growth to influence the jaw, palate, and facial development. Early intervention can help make treatment more efficient and less invasive than if parents waited until all adult teeth had erupted.
Instill healthy habits at home
As soon as children develop teeth, brushing and flossing come into play. Though baby teeth do fall out, they’re not disposable or unimportant. Poor oral hygiene with baby teeth can lead to premature tooth loss. Baby teeth are crucial for speaking, chewing, and eating, and they also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth as they erupt.
When children get braces or aligners, good oral hygiene habits become even more crucial. Appliances can lead to bacteria getting stuck in nooks and crannies of the mouth. Properly brushing and flossing help decrease the chances of plaque buildup and decay. Encourage your child to practice their oral hygiene habits at home and while they’re out and about. Pack them oral hygiene kits to bring to school or a sleepover. Send text reminders or leave sticky notes on the bathroom mirror if it’s time to brush after a snack or meal.
Choose the right foods
Supporting your child with healthy, braces-friendly foods can make treatment much easier and safer. While your child wears appliances, steer them clear of sticky, hard, and chewy foods. These can damage teeth, pop off brackets, and bend wires. In addition to braces-friendly foods, tooth-friendly foods are also excellent choices! Opt for tooth-strengthening, calcium-rich dairy products or vitamin-rich vegetables that nourish their body, and help them limit sugary or acidic snacks and drinks to avoid cavities.
Book a free consultation appointment
Ready to help your child get their best smile yet? Contact our Petty & Bielik Orthodontics team to schedule a free consultation. We can’t wait to deliver our expert care!