FAQs For Braces Care

If your child is getting braces, you'll want to educate yourself on the proper cleaning and care of these orthodontic appliances. Here are a few questions you may have in mind about braces care.

What Foods Are Off-Limits for Your Child?

Your orthodontist will give you a full list of foods that should be avoided, but typically your child will need to avoid

  • Crunchy foods, like popcorn
  • Hard foods, like nuts
  • Overly chewy foods, like bagels
  • Hard candies and licorice
  • Foods that rely on incisors (front teeth) to bite into, like corn on the cob or carrots.

The problem with these kinds of foods is that they can break both metal brackets and wires. Broken wires can be painful and may require your child to use dental wax until you can get him or her to an appointment. Plus, if your child keeps breaking brackets and wires, this can slow down the orthodontic process and make the treatment more expensive because it will last longer.

How Should Your Child Clean His or Her Teeth?

Your child should brush and floss as he or she normally would. It's especially important for your child to stay on top of brushing since food debris can get caught in brackets.

The problem with braces is that flossing is a little more difficult. Once the brackets and wires are in place, your child will have to weave the floss in and out of the wires. To make this task easier, be sure to buy waxed floss so it won't shred. Your orthodontist can also give your child floss threaders. These tools look like plastic needles and help your child weave the floss in and out of braces.

What Are Elastic Bands For?

Your child may need to wear intraoral elastics. These are small rubber bands that attach to metal hooks. These bands help to guide your child's bite in a new direction and are just as important as the brackets and wires. If your child doesn't wear the recommended elastic bands, his or her orthodontic treatment may take longer.

While your child may be able to take the elastic bands out for eating, it's important that they are replaced and worn throughout the day. Ask your orthodontist to provide a few packs of these rubber bands. Keep packets throughout the house, in your child's backpack, and in the car so that they can be easily replaced if your child forgets to put them in for the day.

How Should Your Child Deal with Pain?

When your child first gets braces, he or she may be sore because the brackets and wires will place pressure on the teeth. Your child will get used to this sensation, but in the meantime, he or she may want to take an over-the-counter analgesic. Some children also get little sores on the inside of their mouths and lips. Ask the orthodontist for an ulcer gel so that your child can put a soothing ointment on any sores. Also, your orthodontist can provide dental wax, which can help your child feel more comfortable if the metal appliances are rubbing against the lips and cheeks.

For more information, contact your child's orthodontist