Understanding Braces and Cavity Formations

If you have a teenager with crooked teeth and you want to start the tooth straightening process with your child, then you should know that there are some orthodontic concerns that you should worry about. One of the major concerns as a parent is whether or not the braces cause cavities to develop. If you want to know a little about this and also some of the answers to some common cavity questions, then keep reading.

Do Braces Cause Cavities?

Traditional metal braces do not cause cavities. Individuals often believe this for a few different reasons. Braces may not directly cause cavities to develop, but they do encourage an environment where it is easier for cavities to form. The braces themselves can easily hold food, plaque, and bacteria. The food and bacteria sit close to the dental enamel and cavities can develop.

Also, since it is harder to floss with braces, many teenagers skip the cleaning technique altogether. This can lead to gingivitis and the increase in the number of cavity causing bacteria that thrive in the mouth. 

Braces can also lead to demineralization around the exterior of the metal braces that are cemented to the teeth. When the braces are removed, it can appear as though there is a white halo where the metal bracket once sat. It often looks as though there is a stain or a large cavity in the middle of each tooth. However, the halo is where the enamel has been demineralized. Demineralization is the process where bacterial acids cause the enamel to leach or release minerals. These minerals include calcium and phosphate. When this happens, the demineralized areas become white. These spots are sometimes called "white scars" by dentists and they appear before cavities develop. 

Can Cavities Be Avoided?

Dental decay that appears close to the gumline and demineralization issues can both be prevented if your teenager follows good oral care practices. Unfortunately, it is not simply a case of brushing the teeth and lightly flossing. Your son or daughter must use the correct techniques when cleaning the mouth. You need to first purchase a large full-headed toothbrush. This brush should be placed at a 45 degree angle so the bristles can sweep both above and below the arch and lingual brace wires. 

When it comes to cleaning in between the braces where food can get stuck, an interdental brush can be used. While most interdental brushes are disposable, you can purchase a reusable variety and save yourself a bit of money. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush when cleaning.

To floss between the teeth, use floss threaders. A water flosser may be a better investment and it can be easier for your teen to use. The device can also be implemented to clean between the braces instead of relying on interdental brushes. 

While proper cleaning can reduce most cavity concerns, you need to be worried about demineralization as well. The braces will collect food and debris throughout the day, so it is difficult to completely avoid enamel mineral loss. You can remineralize the teeth with the help of fluoride. A fluoride rinse should be purchased and used daily. It is wise to use the rinse at night before bedtime. This is when the teeth are the most at risk of demineralization as the oral microorganisms are undisturbed for eight hours or more. If your child wants to use the rinse in the morning instead, then this is fine too. After breakfast is a good idea, but ask your son or daughter not to drink or eat anything for 30 minutes afterwards as this can rinse the fluoride away from the teeth.

Talk with a dentist from a clinic like Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics if you have specific questions about preventing cavities from forming while braces are worn.