Keeping Your Child’s Spacer Clean

How to Help Your Child Clean His Space Maintainer

In order to promote proper growth patterns in the upper and lower jaws, allowing the permanent teeth to come into the correct position, orthodontists often use “fixed” appliances.  These are appliances, usually made of metal, that the orthodontist cements into place so that the appliance stays in the mouth for months at a time.

These appliances include things like space maintainers, palatal expanders (or RPEs), and bonded retainers.

Why Clean These Appliances?

Anytime your child has an orthodontic appliance that is not removable, it can collect plaque and tartar buildup over time.  This leads to cavities and gingivitis.  Food can accumulate underneath the appliance, and it can cause pain in the teeth and gums.  Your child could require invasive and expensive dental treatment.

How to Clean Them

Depending on your child’s age and manual dexterity, you may need to clean the appliances for him or her.  Even if your child is capable of performing the cleaning tasks himself, you should supervise or follow up to ensure the appliance is clean.

Brush the Spacer

The first step is to brush the spacer when you or your child is brushing the teeth.  Use gentle sweeping motions to remove plaque and food debris from the various nooks and crannies of the appliance.  An electric toothbrush will be more effective at plaque removal on an appliance.  The vibration and rapid motion of an electric toothbrush can quickly dislodge clumps of food and plaque.

Use Mouthwash

Every orthodontic patient should use a mouthwash as part of his or her daily oral hygiene routine.  Any type of orthodontics increases the risk for cavities by providing numerous hiding spots for cavity-causing bacteria.  For this reason, we recommend an anti-cavity (fluoride) mouthrinse.

Have your child swish the mouthwash vigorously for at least one minute as the last step in the oral hygiene routine.  Because fluoride is a powerful cavity fighter, you want the mouthwash to stay on the teeth instead of brushing or rinsing it off.

Add a Water Flosser

For complicated appliances, like palatal expanders (spacers), you should consider adding a water flosser.  (Most people are familiar with the brand WaterPik, and there are many other affordable brands of water flossers available in today’s market.) These oral hygiene tools are like miniature pressure washers that use pressurized water to clean under appliances and between teeth.  They can remove significant amounts of dental plaque.

These may be messy to use, so we often recommend that our patients use them in the shower.

More Questions about Cleaning Orthodontic Appliances?

Call Empire Dental Specialty Group today. We have office hours in both Beavercreek and West Chester and are here to help you with any orthodontic needs that you have. Our orthodontic experts can answer any question you have about caring for your child’s appliances.