ST. LOUIS - October is the month of candy-laden celebration. Ironically, October is also the National Orthodontics Health Month - sending out a friendly reminder to take extra care of your teeth and keep braces from breaking.
|Alex Mellion, DMD, is a third-year resident at SLU Center for Advanced Dental Care.|
"If kids with braces take good care of their teeth during this time of the year, it will result in less emergency visits to their orthodontists," says Alex Mellion, DMD, a third-year resident at Saint Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education. "This is a great time of the year to remind parents to teach their kids about the importance of brushing their teeth and its long-term benefits."
Mellion offers some simple steps on how kids can protect their teeth and save their braces from getting damaged.
Avoid sticky chocolates
If you have braces, avoid eating sticky, crunchy and hard candy - they are your worst enemy.
"Kids can eat regular chocolates that are softer and easier to chew," Mellion says. "The stickier the candy, the longer it will stay in your mouth, damaging your teeth and increasing the risk for tooth decay."
If kids eat sticky taffy, their braces can separate from their teeth, which would mean more appointments with the orthodontists.
Parents should make sure that kids don't eat candy throughout the day, instead eat it with their meal or one particular time of the day.
"Sugar from the candy will stick around in the mouth and will eventually lead to cavities," Mellion says. "If kids do not brush their teeth right away, they could also develop white spot lesions, which mean their teeth are deteriorating."
Brush and floss
Mellion says he cannot stress enough on the importance of brushing and flossing teeth right after kids eat candy.
"Brushing after you eat something is a norm to avoid future cavities," Mellion says. "I'd highly recommend using an electric toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and flossing your teeth after you eat candy and also other things."
Drink more water
If you cannot brush your teeth right away, drink water.
"Drinking a lot of water will wash down the sugar in your mouth and prevent any potential damage," Mellion says.
Set an example
While Halloween is a time for festive activities, the holiday can also be used to teach kids important lessons.
Mellion says this is a great time for parents to set an example for their kids on best oral health habits.
"If parents brush and floss often, kids will do it too," Mellion says. "The daily ritual can also be made fun by using colorful toothbrush with fancy designs that kids will enjoy, anything that helps them brush as often as possible."
The Center for Advanced Dental Education's mission is to achieve the highest level of excellence in scholarship and patient care while educating dentists in the specialties of orthodontics (tooth straightening), endodontics (root canal treatment) and periodontics (gum disease therapy). The center aims to serve its students, the profession of dentistry, the community of St. Louis, and the communities in which the graduates of CADE will practice their dental specialty.