5 Reasons to See a Hygienist While Wearing Braces


Dental cleanings are important during your child’s journey with braces.

Braces are an exciting milestone for kids! It means they’ve reached adolescence and soon enough they’ll be entering their teenage years with a newly straightened smile.

As a parent investing in their child’s future adult smile, you want to do everything possible to ensure the treatment process goes well and your child is able to get the best results. Part of that involves taking your child to regular follow-ups and tightening appointments, ensuring they’re brushing well, and keeping plenty of interdental cleaners and orthodontic wax on hand.

But there’s one other very important thing for parents to do — take their child to routine cleanings with a pediatric hygienist.

Here are five big reasons why professional dental cleanings are so important for youngsters with braces.

1. Cavities can still happen.

While orthodontic care is incredibly beneficial, the brackets and wires create more nooks and crannies for bacteria to stick. While braces themselves won’t cause cavities to form, they can create an environment where less than optimal oral hygiene habits may lead to cavities more quickly.

When your child sees a pediatric hygienist for professional cleaning, all of the stuck food, bacteria, and plaque are flushed away, even from the tightest spaces around their braces. During the cleaning visit, your child’s pediatric dentist will also take a look to see if there are any warning signs of tooth decay. This is something orthodontists don’t do during tightening and braces check-up appointments.

2. Brackets and wires can make brushing tough.

Kids and teens often have to relearn brushing and flossing techniques after they get traditional braces. As brackets and wires are obstacles to get around, many kids do tend to feel a little bit frustrated at first. Providing your child with a powered toothbrush with a small, round head and water flosser can really help them get a better clean.

At-home dental care is the foundation of healthy teeth, but even the most fastidious young brusher may not reach every bit of their teeth’s surface while wearing braces. A dental hygienist will be able to get absolutely everything.

3. Plaque buildup can cause gum disease.

Gum disease isn’t just an adults-only problem. Kids can also get gingivitis as well as periodontitis, though the latter is fairly rare. What can occur with braces is a buildup of plaque developing around the teeth, between the gum line and the brackets, which can lead to further issues with the gums. A great at-home dental care regimen will really help reduce plaque buildup, but only a professional cleaning will fully remove plaque from all surfaces of your child’s teeth.

If your child notices pink on their dental floss or in their toothpaste when they spit, be sure to talk to their dentist as this is a common sign of gingivitis (gum inflammation).

4. Decalcification can leave white spots on the teeth.

A common myth that still floats around today is that braces cause white spots on teeth. White spots from braces aren’t considered normal, and though they can certainly occur, the underlying cause isn’t the braces themselves.

Decalcification occurs when plaque remains on a tooth’s surface for too long and the enamel begins to become damaged. This is similar to how a cavity forms, though decalcification with braces-wearers can occur on the front surface of the teeth surrounding the brackets. The only way to prevent decalcification is a combination of great at-home brushing habits, staying away from sugar and other cavity-causing foods, and seeing a dental hygienist at least every six months.

5. Stuck food and bacteria can lead to bad breath.

Is your child’s breath not smelling so fresh since they’ve gotten their braces? Wires and brackets can make it really easy for food to get wedged into place. Unless this food debris is removed, bacteria will build, and halitosis, as well as tooth decay, can happen. Encouraging your child to brush and floss after each major meal will help keep their breath fresh and prevent a buildup of food debris and bacteria.

Seeing a pediatric dental hygienist every six months or perhaps even every four months can put a stop to halitosis and prevent it from occurring again in the first place. Keep in mind that chronic bad breath is a sign of trouble, so if your child is brushing frequently and their breath doesn’t get better, it’s important to chat with their dentist to see what treatment might be needed.

Orthodontic appointments aren’t a replacement for routine checkups and cleanings.

Kids will be in a dental office more often than ever during their journey with braces. However, parents should remember that these orthodontic appointments aren’t a replacement for your child’s preventive care visits with their pediatric dentist and hygienist.

While your child’s orthodontist will notice a bad cavity or decalcification, they don’t have the same skills as a dedicated pediatric dentist. Only a skilled pediatric dentist will notice the very earliest signs of trouble and be able to take action before damage occurs.

Think of your child’s orthodontist and pediatric dentist as dual team members who both serve important roles in protecting your child’s oral health.

Schedule a cleaning for your child’s smile today.

If it’s been close to or over six months since your child’s last cleaning, it’s time to book an appointment. You can schedule your child’s visit with a Must Love Kids dental hygienist by calling our Vancouver, WA office or using this online form.