Apr 24, 2014 - 11:04 AM EST | Posted under: General, Orthodontics
When it comes to braces for kids, you can’t be too diligent about encouraging proper dental care and routine cleanings. Failure to emphasize consistent healthy dental habits in your children can lead to serious, and sometimes permanent, damage.
- Demineralization occurs when food debris left on or between teeth comes in contact with bacteria and creates acid. The acid begins to damage the teeth by breaking down components of the enamel, starting with vital minerals, like calcium and phosphorous. If the process is not stopped, by timely cleaning of the affected area, “white scars” will appear. These are a chalky outline, often in the shape of the brace on tooth, which remains once the braces have been removed. Unfortunately, the spots are permanent and often a sensitive area on the tooth/teeth. Demineralization will not occur if your teeth are properly and diligently cared for: brushing after every meal, flossing daily, and avoiding high-sugar and sticky foods.
- Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. It is the earliest stage of periodontitis, or gum disease. Gingivitis can be identified by red, swollen gums that often bleed while brushing. Gingivitis is reversible, but if left untreated can cause permanent damage and even tooth loss. Flossing and cleaning near the gum line can be difficult with braces, but don’t let that stop you from making it happen every day. Brushing and flossing daily are essential to prevention.
- Sensitivity is characterized by a sharp, almost stinging sensation when you eat hot or cold foods. It occurs when the protective enamel of the tooth or teeth has worn down, exposing the nerve endings of the tooth. Sensitive teeth are often a result of vigorous brushing or lack of proper dental care and routine cleanings. Brushing after every meal and flossing daily can help prevent sensitive teeth, but if you are already experiencing this discomfort, speak to your orthodontist about other treatment options, such as special toothpastes or fluoride treatments.
- Plaque is the clear, sticky film formed by bacteria inside the mouth. Plaque occurs when bacteria, saliva and food debris build-up in the mouth. In the presence of sugar, plaque forms acid that erodes the tooth enamel and leads to tooth decay. If plaque is not routinely removed with daily brushing, flossing and routine dental cleanings, it can turn it tartar.
- Tartar can lead to stains and discoloration on the teeth as well as tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Once tartar has formed, it requires a trip to the orthodontist for a professional cleaning to remove it. Kids with braces are susceptible because it can be hard to clean every crevice of the mouth. However, brushing after every meal and flossing daily can make great strides in reducing plaque and tartar buildup.