Protect Your Kids' Teeth This Summer!
Posted on 07/01/2021

As more people get vaccinated over time, we are all hoping that this summer starts to bring things back to normal for everyone.  And now that good weather is finally here, the kids are starting to get back out there and enjoy time with friends!  To kids, summer means playing lots of sports and participating in fun outdoor activities.  If your child is currently in active orthodontic treatment or they have recently finished with their orthodontic treatment, consider taking some extra steps to protect your kids’ smile this summer!   If they spend the day at camp or doing other activities, think about it the same way as you do school.  Pack an extra toothbrush in their bag and encourage them to brush after lunch!  If they wear Invisalign® aligners or a retainer, remember to pack the retainer case and encourage them to use it when they take them out to eat and drink.
We all know how easy it is to throw away retainers when they are wrapped up in napkins!  Who of us can say they haven't gone searching through a trash can for an orthodontic retainer at some point?   Also, encourage your kids to drink water from their water bottles instead of sugary sports drinks, and don't forget the mouth guard!

It's well known that kids with braces on need to take extra care to regularly remove food that gets trapped around the appliances.  In short, good oral hygiene is needed in order to prevent cavities from forming.  The plaque that becomes trapped is chock full of sugars from foods as well as bacteria that is naturally present in the mouth.  These bacteria have a literal feast on the sugars and will produce an acid as a result.   Over time the acid will start to dissolve the protective coating of enamel on the teeth, and the teeth will lose minerals and strength.  The loss of calcium and phosphate from the teeth is called decalcification.  Decalcifications have a chalky-white appearance and are sometimes referred to as white spot lesions.  In kids with braces, they can look like crescent-moon shapes and usually form closer to the gum line.  These lesions occur more often on the front teeth and can become quite obvious if the teeth are not being effectively cleaned.  Once the lesions form, they are permanent and cannot be removed without the help of a dentist.  Further, if the calcium and phosphate is not restored to the area with flouride treatments, the damaged enamel can break off and form a cavity. 

But what about kids with Invisalign® or those that are simply wearing retainers after orthodontic treatment is finished?  Easier cleansing of the teeth is one of the main advantages of removable orthodontic appliances and why many will choose this route over traditional braces that are fixed onto the teeth.  Did you know that eating or drinking anything other than water with Invisalign® or retainers (aka removable appliances) in the mouth can cause serious damage to the teeth?     Many kids know not to eat with their removable appliances, but they will still drink beverages to avoid having to take them out in front of others.  Now that it's hot outside, kids need to hydrate during activities.  Beware of sugary drinks such as sports drinks, sodas and juices.  Sugars can become trapped under the removable appliances and bathe the teeth for long periods of time.  If a child is regularly consuming sugary drinks with the removable appliances in the mouth, this can make them much more susceptible to decalcifications that cover the entire surface of the teeth.   Removable appliances that are worn full time can sometimes hide this damage, and you may not even be aware of it until it is too late.

When it comes to mouth guards, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", as Ben Franklin put so succinctly.  When kids play sports sometimes accidents can happen, and unfortunately this can jump start your child onto a long road of dental work in which broken or lost teeth need to be fixed or replaced.  The incidence of severe trauma or avulsion (knocking out) of the front teeth can be reduced dramatically during sports by simply wearing a mouth guard!  Can't stress this enough! There are more mouth guard choices now for kids who are in active orthodontic treatment- whether it be braces or Invisalign® treatment.  Those traditional bulky "boil and bite" mouth guards cannot be worn with braces on.  If you try to mold them onto the teeth, they form around the nooks and crannies of the braces and the braces can break.  Non-molded "orthodontic" mouth guards are specially designed to fit around the braces.   Also, now there are some thinner styles of mouth guards available, such as SISU,® that can be molded multiple times with braces on or over the Invisalign® trays using a layer of aluminum foil as a barrier.  This type of mouth guard has advantages because your child can achieve a more custom fit, and it can be molded multiple times as the teeth change and move throughout the treatment process.

Hopefully these tips will help your child to protect their beautiful smile!  We want the day your child finishes with braces or Invisalign® to be a happy day where we can celebrate not only straight teeth, but healthy teeth!  More information about our office can be found at