What are my child’s responsibilities during orthodontic treatment?

If your child currently has braces, or is about to get them, you may wonder if there’s anything they are supposed to do during the process. The answer is yes! Here are the top 3 things they can do to keep their treatment on track. 

Keep Their Appointments 

The number of appointments your child will need over the course of treatment and how long they last depend on what kind of braces they have and what we’re trying to achieve. No matter what the schedule is, it’s important that they show up for all their appointments. Missing or rescheduling (read: delaying) appointments is a sure way to lengthen treatment time, something nobody wants. 

In addition to keeping appointments with the orthodontist, make sure your child is keeping up with their dentist appointments, too. As orthodontists, we’re not doing thorough cleanings or looking out for dental decay or gum disease. That’s why you must keep up with your regular dental routine while undergoing orthodontic treatment. 

Keep Their Braces Clean 

Healthy, clean teeth are ideal for orthodontic treatment. They move faster and better, are less painful, and look better when the braces finally come off. In contrast, inflamed gums and teeth with decay are more painful during treatment, lead to longer treatment times, and don’t look as good when the braces finally come off. 

For this reason, it’s vital that your child practice good oral hygiene while wearing braces. That means brushing at least twice a day, and preferably after all snacks and meals, and flossing once. 

Keep Their Braces Intact 

Brackets are bonded very tightly to the teeth but they’re not invincible. Neither are the wires. That’s why your child needs to be aware of how their activities and the foods they eat can affect their braces. 

If they take part in sports, get a mouth guard that fits over their braces to keep them safe. They should also avoid roughhousing and rough play that could damage their braces. 

Certain foods can damage braces, too, which is why there’s a long list of hard, sticky, and chewy foods to be avoided during orthodontic treatment. These include: 

  • Chewing gum
  • Nuts
  • Corn chips
  • Sticky or hard chocolate
  • Hard taco shells
  • Sticky and hard candy
  • Ice
  • Pretzels
  • Hard cookies or crackers
  • Popcorn 

Your child can also avoid damage to their braces by cutting up foods like these into smaller pieces (or avoid them altogether):

  • Hard rolls
  • Thin-crust pizza
  • Raw vegetables
  • Croutons
  • French bread or Italian bread
  • Fruit
  • Meat
  • Sub sandwiches
  • Corn on the cob
  • Burgers

Talk with your child to make sure they understand which foods should be avoided or eaten with care for as long as their braces are on. If it helps, stick this list up somewhere in the kitchen. 

Taking Responsibility for the Outcome 

Everyone has to work together to achieve that dream smile – the orthodontist, their team, and the patient, too. By taking responsibility for the outcome of their treatment, your child can help the process go more smoothly and ensure they end up with the smile they’ve been waiting for.