Why Your Teeth Need Dental Care While Wearing Braces (or Clear Aligners)

Dental care is even more important during orthodontic treatment

Resist the temptation to skip the dentist during orthodontic care

There’s a popular saying that “teamwork makes the dream work.” This isn’t just a catchy saying. It’s also very true! It applies to many areas of our lives—including orthodontic treatment. Straightening your child’s teeth is an investment that’ll benefit them for a lifetime, but the process runs on teamwork. Orthodontists are talented specialists who handle straightening crooked teeth and uneven bites with expert care. While the orthodontist is checking the health of your child’s teeth and gums throughout treatment, regularly scheduled visits for professional dental cleanings are vital to maintaining oral health. So even if you’re taking your child to see the orthodontist every six weeks, they still need to visit their dentist for regular dental care checkups at least twice a year.

In fact, while your child is undergoing orthodontic care with braces or clear aligners, great dental care and oral health are more important than ever. This even impacts your child’s final treatment results! We’ve put together a guide to help you understand why going to the dentist is a vital part of your child’s orthodontic treatment process.

Dentists can help treat gum disease

Your child’s gums need to be healthy before they can undergo orthodontic treatment. If your child has gum disease, they can’t get braces or clear aligners—at least, not until their gum disease is gone and their gums are healed. Thankfully, your child’s dentist can help with this! Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, is often easy to get rid of at home with a great oral hygiene routine. Their dental care should include flossing at least once a day, brushing their teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, and using mouthwash.

If your child has a history of gum disease, they’ll need a seal of approval from their general dentist confirming that their gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment before they can get braces or clear aligners. Once their treatment is complete, though, your child’s dentist can give that approval. They can also help prevent a recurrence of gum disease during your child’s orthodontic treatments through regular professional dental cleanings.

Clear your child’s teeth of plaque and tartar build-ups

A regular oral hygiene routine is an essential part of everyone’s oral health because it helps cut down on build-ups of plaque and tartar on teeth. Plaque is a film of cavity-causing bacteria that quickly begins to harden into tartar when it isn’t cleaned off of teeth. Even if your child is doing their best to brush and floss their teeth very well, tartar bonds to the surface of the teeth and can only be removed by dentists during a professional dental cleaning. Many kids are still learning how to take their time with their at-home dental care routine, but traditional braces in particular can make it harder for them to do a good job.

Orthodontists don’t perform a thorough professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from your child’s teeth, so visiting the dentist helps your child’s teeth stay clean and healthy throughout their orthodontic treatment. Your child’s dentist can also take the time to let your child know if they’re missing any spots during their dental care routine and can give them tips about how they can improve their routine at home.

Help prevent cavities and spot them early

When your child has an appointment with their orthodontist, the main goal of the appointment is to check their bite to ensure that their teeth are moving the way they’re meant to and to make adjustments to traditional braces if necessary. They’re specialists, so they don’t examine your child’s teeth to ensure that they’re staying healthy. On the other hand, however, it’s the general dentist’s main goal to make sure your child’s teeth are clean and healthy. By removing plaque and tartar from your child’s teeth, the dentist actively helps to prevent cavities. They also perform a thorough dental exam and take yearly dental X-rays to check for signs of cavities.

Taking your child to these appointments regularly also enables the dentist to identify cavities early—before major treatments are necessary—as well as potential trouble spots that your child needs to pay a little more attention to during their at-home oral hygiene routine. This is always vital for their oral health, but it’s even more important during orthodontic treatments when oral hygiene routines may not be as easy as they used to be. It helps keep your child healthy and motivated to stay that way!

Dentists help prevent decalcification

During orthodontic treatment, plaque and food can collect around the brackets or attachments on braces or clear aligners. When these areas aren’t cleaned thoroughly, the bacteria in your mouth begins to digest any food particles hanging around in the mouth and creates acid which is causing the demineralization of enamel. This is called decalcification, and it can leave permanent white stains on your child’s teeth. It’s why oral hygiene is even more important than ever during orthodontic treatment.

Your child’s dentist helps to prevent decalcification in several ways. The first is by removing this layer of built-up plaque and food during regular, thorough dental cleanings. The dentist also provides plenty of encouragement and advice to both you and your child regarding their at-home oral hygiene routine. Advice from your child’s dentist can help your child do a better job cleaning their teeth at home, either by using different products, learning new ways to clean around their brackets more easily, or simply being motivated to try harder. With the proper care, they’ll complete orthodontic care with a straight, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. Your orthodontist and orthodontic assistants encourage proper care to your child as well by demonstrating good brushing and pointing out areas that need more attention while brushing.

Schedule a cleaning

It may feel like you’re taking your child on a lot of trips to the dentist while they’re undergoing orthodontic treatments, but it’s important to remember that there’s a distinct difference between the care that orthodontists provide vs. what general dentists provide. Plus, scheduling an appointment with your child’s regular dentist will likely only take 45 minutes every six months—that’s a very small amount of time for all the lifelong benefits that your child will receive from their appointments! It’s never too late to schedule an appointment, so you can call your dentist in Omaha, NE to schedule an appointment for your child at any time.

Your child’s general dentistry is just as important an element of your child’s orthodontic treatment as their orthodontics are, so don’t skip their regular dental appointments! Your child’s dentist and orthodontist will work together to give your kid a healthy, beautiful smile they feel confident about for a lifetime.