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The Ultimate Flossing Guide for Kids with Braces

June 08, 2022

The Ultimate Flossing Guide for Kids with Braces

With new orthodontic treatments come great responsibilities. So is true for your little ones with braces! Flossing, which improves gum and tooth health, doesn’t get lost in the picture. It’s even more critical for kids with braces. Realigning the teeth wouldn’t yield optimal results if you suddenly develop gum disease or tooth decay because of skipping flossing. As early as when they turn 2 or 3, you need to start developing the positive habits of flossing with your child, so they know that it will always be a part of their routine. 

Let this guide shed more light on how braces impact a child’s oral health. Plus, get an overview of the different types of braces available at your local dentist. We also give you tips, techniques, and tried-and-tested floss picks for better dental hygiene.

In this article, we will talk about…

 

How do braces affect your child’s oral health?

Braces are recommended by orthodontists for crooked teeth, which happens for a variety of reasons. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), most of the causes are inherited. However, some are acquired through “sucking the thumb or fingers, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, or early or late loss of baby teeth, accidents and poor nutrition.” In some cases, your child’s misaligned teeth might have come from your genes. Habits or conditions that they pick up later in life can then worsen the misalignment. 

The resulting misalignment has to be assessed by an orthodontist by age 7. At this point, kids have a mix of milk teeth and permanent teeth, so the treatment is not usually started right away. However, the orthodontist can already tell if future treatments will be needed and when to expect it. This way, you and your child can prepare accordingly. The professional can also advise you on ways to prevent further problems. Contrary to popular belief, kids get braces for more than just cosmetic reasons. In many cases, improving the “bite” or teeth alignment helps a child eat and speak better

The condition doesn’t happen overnight, so the process to repair the deformities takes several months or a few years, too. Calculated gentle pressure is used to pull teeth into the right places. That means months or years of modifying your child’s dental hygiene routine, too. As mentioned, flossing will be crucial. Throughout the duration of wearing braces, the teeth and gums need to be in tiptop shape.

 

What are the different types of braces?

1. Metallic Braces

These are composed of brackets and wires usually seen on kids. They’ve been around for more than a century and have evolved over the decades. Modern braces are made of stainless steel or gold-colored steel. Clear or colored bands are added around the brackets to lessen the irritation of the mouth. Metallic braces are prominent, so a lot of people get turned off by the appearance. However, these are very effective and usually the least expensive option.

2. Ceramic Braces

Tooth-colored ceramic is used so that the brackets would be less noticeable. Because of the aesthetic advantage, this type is typically more expensive. Over time, the ceramics can get stained as well. The limits in terms of food texture are still there. For example, very hard foods are discouraged for those with metallic braces. However, there’s an additional need to think of food and drinks that won't discolor your tike’s ceramic braces. 

3. Lingual Braces

Here’s another alternative with an aesthetic advantage. This time, the braces are still made of metal, but they are applied on the inner side of the teeth, hiding them from view. The problem with this is that it’s less effective than traditional braces in terms of time. So, the process of correction usually takes much longer. The results may not be optimal, either.

4. Clear Aligners

This contemporary type has become a trendy favorite over the last few years. Instead of metal, the child will get periodic fittings for custom-made clear plastic aligners. Think of these as similar to casts for a broken arm or leg. Dentists prescribe multiple molds (usually 18 to 30) until the crooked teeth are fixed.

The perk is that eating and drinking isn’t usually affected. In other words, your child has more freedom and needs fewer adjustments. The aligners can be easily removed every time your child needs to eat. Nonetheless, the biggest disadvantage of this type is the considerably higher cost. Sometimes, using them results in minor dental problems, too.

A little girl with braces smiling at somebody unseen while in a garden.

Braces have many benefits besides giving your child more confidence to smile, but this needs extra maintenance.

How do you floss if your child has braces? Can you use floss picks?

There might not be a lot of adjustments if your little one gets clear aligners. However, if they get traditional ones, there has to be modifications to how they floss. You have to be mindful of the presence of wires and brackets. Then, you need to adjust your routine accordingly. Here are some tips:

▶ Start ‘em young!

When it comes to dental care, the earlier, the better. Build a solid background and foundation of positive habits. That way, it’s easier for your child to adapt to a new routine when they get braces. That’s only because they know the importance of flossing already. Let them try it out and offer help as needed to foster their independence.

▶ Follow your orthodontist’s list of food to avoid.

Some foods are too hard and can get things stuck between your teeth or within the spaces of the braces. That includes popular snacks like popcorn and nuts. Certain foods leave behind more residue than others, such as fibrous fruits and stringy meat. Try to avoid these if possible. Otherwise, you need to double-up on flossing and brushing your teeth. 

▶ Make sure you pick sturdy and waxed floss threads or floss picks.

Use the former for the majority of your teeth and the latter for your molars. Otherwise, the thread can get caught and shred because of the brace wires and brackets. 

▶ Be cautious and gentle.

When you floss without braces, you’re already taught to do it gently to avoid damaging the gums. This time, if your child has braces, you have to be all the more gentle. Avoid putting pressure on the wires or brackets through the floss, so they won’t get removed. Follow the usual step-by-step routine, except avoid the parts of the braces.

▶ Don’t skip any gaps!

Pay attention to all spaces where two teeth touch. Make sure to clean each and every one with flossing. The process will be much longer compared to when your child doesn’t have braces. However, you must invest time and effort to keep their teeth from getting even more crooked.

In terms of schedule, the AAO recommends flossing at least once a day, ideally before brushing your teeth. This lets you remove any dental plaque more effectively. It also allows the fluoride content of your toothpaste to reach all spots, including hard-to-reach spaces within your teeth.

 

What happens if you don’t floss when you have braces?

As mentioned, skipping flossing or not doing it properly can result in tooth decay. Eventually, gum disease may develop. This could result in more brace adjustments if your child suddenly loses a tooth or they feel too much pain from the infection. The worst case scenario? Untreated and serious gum disease can lead to heart problems and other infections. Remember: the little things you do (or don’t do) every day add up. 

Aside from the effects on your oral health, not flossing means your child might miss certain particles stuck on their braces. This seems trivial, but if there’s a buildup or if they continue eating hard, sticky, or stringy food, those leftover particles can gradually tarnish their braces. Again, that could delay the teeth realignment, which may be more expensive and uncomfortable.

A little boy carefully choosing his favorite Piico Kids Floss Pick from a Playground Dino set.

Piico Kids Floss Picks are a great way to get your kids started on flossing, especially with the Playground bundle games.

What are the best flosses for kids with braces?

The first thing you look for when it comes to floss picks or threads is the durability of the product. Next, you need to make sure they’re age-appropriate. For kids, it’s better to make the experience more enjoyable through colorful tools. Piico offers the best floss picks that are expertly crafted and specifically made for kids. There is even a variety of adorable designs and characters to suit children’s interests. This way, you can make flossing fun yet effective and lessen the possible stresses of flossing with braces. 

Aside from floss picks, you can also use floss threads. There are also different devices available such as interdental brushes, water picks, or oral irrigators. These have to be suggested by your dentist or orthodontist. This way, you can be guided more closely in how you and your child can  use them together with your at-home dental care necessities.

The most important thing to remember is that flossing should be a constant part of your little one’s dental care routine. Whether or not they have braces or other orthodontic treatments, time and effort needs to be allotted for their interdental cleaning. This way, you can keep tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems away! There will be challenges, especially if your child is resistant to change. However, you just need to gently but persistently point out the importance of floss picks for braces and the consequences of neglecting this step.

Have a look at our collection of floss picks, and get a fun Piico Kids pack for your child’s daily needs: