My 12 year old daughter started her journey with braces in March of 2017. Since then, she’s had to learn how to take care of her teeth a little differently than she did before starting orthodontia. Of my three kids, Katie is the child who thrives on routine the most. She packs her school backpack exactly the same way every day. She keeps her bedroom and locker orderly. She arranges her pillows “just so” on her bed each night. So when she started ortho, I expected her to continue with her regular brushing routine, which she did.
It became evident quite quickly that her regular brushing routine was not going to be enough with the new brackets and wires she was sporting. I could see a build up of food and plaque on her teeth when she smiled. I found myself asking her nearly every day if she had even brushed her teeth that morning and she’d always answer me with an exasperated “yes”. She truly had. She brushed her teeth every morning after breakfast and every evening before bed, sometimes even at school. She brushed for two minutes, twice a day. That’s the trademark rule and she was following it. Her dad is a dentist for goodness sake!
I would harp on her that she needed to do a better job brushing, that she was missing critical areas in her mouth or that she was brushing her teeth too lightly to be effective. This was serious! I would tell her constantly that braces are a huge investment, a serious responsibility and an incredible gift to receive as a kid. She had to take better care of her teeth, especially now! Katie would counter that she knew all of those things and she was taking care of her teeth. Duh! Her dad is a dentist for goodness sake! Our daily conversations would almost always turn into an argument and neither of us would feel good about them afterword.
Then, at one of our first monthly return visits with her orthodontist, who also happens to be a dear family friend, I put both Katie and Dr. Landrigan on the spot.
“Let’s talk about brushing,” I suggested while the doctor was examining Katie’s teeth.
Dr. Landrigan looked at me apologetically and replied, “She needs to do a better job.”
I still feel a little guilty for making him uncomfortable by putting him on the spot, but Katie needed to hear it directly from her trusted orthodontist because she wasn’t listening to me. She was brushing regularly. How could we remedy this problem? We spent a few minutes talking about brushing habits and together decided she needed an electric toothbrush. Just our luck – I know a guy! Wink. Wink.
We drove straight to my husband’s dental office and picked up a snazzy, new Oral-B electric toothbrush for Katie. It was something new and fun and it was able to connect to her cell phone via Bluetooth. It was cool! The best part: her older siblings didn’t have this snazzy Oral-B electric toothbrush. Katie unpacked the box immediately when we got home, downloaded the Oral-B app onto her phone, set up the Bluetooth connection and started brushing her teeth. Bam! Victory!
In this age of technology, this particular electric toothbrush and smartphone combo does a few things.
The toothbrush syncs with the Oral-B app, which has a timer that keeps track of how long and how often you brush.
The app tracks where you brush, so you know if you’ve spent enough time on each area of your mouth.
It can detect if you’re brushing too hard or aggressively, which are very common problems. Plus, it celebrates your success.
The electric toothbrush has been a game changer for Katie’s over all oral hygiene, especially while she’s in ortho. I noticed a difference in her teeth and smile almost immediately. Her teeth actually looked clean. There was no visible buildup of plaque and her teeth were actually shiny. What a difference! She is now able to brush her teeth much more thoroughly, getting in between and around every bracket, even in those hard to reach areas. I even feel her teeth stay cleaner longer with the new toothbrush.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed the difference in Katie’s oral hygiene. At her next ortho appointment, Katie was commended on her improved tooth brushing. She feels much more confident with her silver smile now too. I know she’s got the tools she needs to take much better care of her teeth and her braces.
I often joke that my husband and I finally nailed parenting with our third child, but part of that imagined expertise includes a lot of trial and error. As a parent, I’m thankful for technology that helps make mundane tasks fun and even helps monitor things I cannot.
From one parent to another, if you’re making a huge investment into your child’s teeth through orthodontia, please also keep in mind the importance of oral hygiene during this critical time. Sometimes it’s something as simple as an electric toothbrush that can transform your child’s brushing habits and empower them to help take care of themselves, even as pre-teens. If together we can find ways to make parenting easier and less stressful, I’m all for it!
Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, mother of three and staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center