Why Every Child with Braces Should Also Have a Waterpik

Flossing teeth when you have braces can be a serious challenge, oftentimes resulting in poor compliance. Fortunately, the Waterpik is a great alternative to flossing for those with braces.


Braces are a lot of work for kids: awkward eating rituals, pain after tightening, and all the “stuff” that gets stuck in the brackets and wires after eating that has to be removed. So when a dentist asks kids with braces to take extra time and attention to floss and brush their teeth twice a day, they may not be super receptive to the message. For this reason, Dr. Perry Francis of Wild About Smiles offers an alternative to flossing: the Waterpik.®

The go-to response for how to floss with braces has been to use a floss threader, a plastic tool that threads under brace wiring. However, many children find using this tool challenging and time-consuming. One to two minutes with the Waterpik can provide comparable results and is much simpler to use.

Using a Waterpik is far easier and faster than flossing for kids with braces, taking about one minute for the upper teeth and another minute for the lower teeth. Used twice a day, followed by brushing, a Waterpik can help maintain gum health and reduce the chance of decay in between teeth.

Dr. Francis explains how the Waterpik works by comparing it to a pressure washer. “Just before you paint a house you pressure wash to get rid of all the junk. The Waterpik is like that for teeth and gums when you have braces. It gets all the food off brackets and wires and along the gum line.”

The Waterpik Water Flosser works so well that the American Dental Association Council On Scientific Affairs awarded it their Seal of Acceptance for its efficacy in removing plaque along the gum line and between teeth, while also helping to prevent and reduce gingivitis. And a clinical study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found the Waterpik three times as effective as string floss for orthodontic patients.

So, what happens if your child doesn’t regularly remove food, bacteria and plaque from around orthodontic hardware? In the short term, gums get inflamed, it hurts to brush (making kids less likely to do it), and gums may even bleed. In the long-term, cavities and gum diseases can result. Because it is not practical to take dental x-rays when kids have braces (all that metal makes it hard to see tooth decay), the extent of damage to teeth may not be known until the braces come off.

Dr. Francis has seen the results of poor oral hygiene in children with braces. “In some cases, I’ve seen more than a dozen cavities in a single patient who skipped cleaning appointments and did not maintain good oral hygiene practices while they had braces,” he explains. “This can be avoided. No one wants to get out of braces only to face a huge bill for restorative dental care.”

While Wild About Smiles does sell Waterpiks in the office, Dr. Francis typically refers patients to Costco where bulk buying can result in lower prices than he can get. Plan to spend at least $70, which is a lot less costly than cavity fillings.

You can learn more about Dr. Francis here.

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