Braces and You! (Body Fact #13)

Tomorrow, I’m taking my daughter to the orthodontist to get braces. She’s 11 and very excited about it—in a right-of-passage sort of way. Me? Well, aside from sticker shock, I’m thinking about the practical matters, like brushing after each and every meal and putting the brakes on her limitless intake of all things sugar.

If you ever find yourself in my shoes, here is a short primer on the fundamentals of braces. Sharing it with your son or daughter will give the two of you a good foundation to start talking the details.
Braces straighten your teeth. They will improve your appearance and your dental health. You probably already know someone who has them. That’s not surprising, because lots of people—not only young men and women, but also grown ups—wear braces.

Some braces are made from very fine metal wire; others are clear or the same color as your teeth. There are even braces that fit behind your teeth so no one will know you’re wearing them. Unless you tell them, of course!

Braces trap food, so you need to work extra hard to keep your teeth clean while you have them. Brushing your teeth carefully and regularly—like after every meal and snack—is a good idea. Take extra care to clean hard-to reach places around brackets and under wires. And be sure to ask your dentist or orthodontist for a special brush that will make the job easier.

While you have braces, you’ll want to avoid foods that can break them or get stuck in them. Try not to eat popcorn, hard candies like lemon drops, sticky candies like caramels, and especially gum. Sugary sodas and juices are bad, too, because the sugar stays on your teeth and can cause tooth decay behind the brackets and wires if you don’t brush afterward.

So you see it’s not too hard to take good care of your teeth when you have braces. It’s just a matter of staying after it and eating the right foods.

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