Don’t let your investment in your child’s smile go to waste!

Parents here in Leawood and Overland Park strive so hard to give their kids every advantage.  One of these important opportunities is orthodontics.  Ortho plays an important role in the skeletal development of a child. It enables us to create balance and harmony between the teeth and face structure, not to mention beautiful smiles!    Lately, however, I’ve been noticing a disturbing amount of “ortho scars” developing behind those not so inexpensive brackets.  Whether it is from lack of time or simply just a lack of effort, about half of the kids are not successfully removing all of the plaque off of their teeth.  This plaque, when allowed to sit on the teeth over time, causes a weak area of the tooth that develops chalky white spots or even brown spots on the teeth.  The weak area develops when the minerals that make up the tooth structure are leached out by acid, a waste product from plaque bacteria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The orthodontists in the community are amazing at what they do.  They work hard with the kids to develop good oral hygiene practices, but they still need the parents, to reinforce those good habits at home.  Most of the time, parents don’t realize this scarring is going on until the braces come off.  They are then dismayed at the condition of their children’s teeth.  This scarring is difficult to treat and very expensive.  The most effective treatment of severe ortho scarring is porcelain veneers, which however beautiful, are costly, avoidable, and cannot be performed until the child has stopped growing.

So here are a few tricks of the trade… An electric toothbrush is preferred when it comes to brushing habits, and an oral irrigator (like a waterpik or hydroflosser) is also highly recommended to clean between the teeth and around brackets. Other items that we advise patients to use include a proxybrush (tiny tree-shaped brush) for between brackets, threaders to maneuver floss around wires and brackets, and prescription fluoride toothpaste that is brushed on before bedtime to help the teeth become more resistant to cavity formation.

Be an advocate for your children’s dental health.  If your orthodontist or dentist is not forthcoming about how their hygiene is going, make sure you ask.  If they are getting poor reports, consider bringing them in for cleanings more often.  Most of all, make sure they are spending the time they need at home.  It takes an average of 10 minutes to brush, floss and waterpick when in full braces!