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Dental Care and Orthodontia


Dental Care and Orthodontia

The best way for you to enjoy a nice smile and healthy teeth is to take care of your teeth! Having a bleeding disorder doesn't mean you're not more likely to have dental problems. It means dental problems are harder to treat. That's why preventing problems is so important.

This section of Next Step will cover:

It is important to visit your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups. Your dentist is trained to see problems you can't. Dentists can prevent problems with your teeth and give you good tips on how to brush and floss.

Brushing and Flossing

Brush Those Teeth!

Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove the sticky film of bacteria (called plaque) that you can feel on your teeth and gums when you roll your tongue over them. Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Your dentist can show you the best way to brush your teeth without hurting your gums.

Here are some other tooth care tips:

  • If you can, brush after eating sweet and sticky snacks.
  • Brush all your teeth, not just the ones in front. Spend time on the teeth along the sides and in the back.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles.
  • Replace your toothbrush after about 3 months.
  • Never share or borrow a toothbrush.

Floss Every Day!

Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, the line separating the gum from the exposed part of the tooth. If plaque isn't removed every day, it can harden into tartar—an ugly, hard yellow build-up, which the dentist or dental hygienist will have to scrape off. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to teach you the right way to floss your teeth. It may feel weird the first few times you do it, but pretty soon you'll be a pro. Slip the dental floss between each tooth and along the gum line gently once a day. The floss gets rid of bits of food that get hidden where your toothbrush can't reach, no matter how well you brush. If it's hard to move your fingers or elbow due to a bleed, talk to your dentist. Dentists have tools that can help make flossing easier. When you start flossing, your gums may bleed a little. Once you begin to floss every day, your gums will become healthier and bleed less. Tell your parents if you're worried about the bleeding or if bleeding continues.

From Baby Teeth to Permanent Teeth

As tempting as it may be, don't play with a loose tooth or wiggle it with your fingers or tongue. Wiggling a tooth that's not ready to come out may hurt your gums and cause bleeding. Try to let your baby teeth fall out on their own, without pulling, so less bleeding will occur. If there is a lot of bleeding when a tooth falls out or is removed by the dentist, you may need to gently bite down on gauze or a moist tea bag (the tannic acid in tea tightens tiny blood vessels to help form a clot). The dentist may give you medicine to make sure it heals properly. While the area is healing, eat soft foods and try not to eat hot foods. If your gums are bleeding a lot, tell your parents. You may need treatment.

Between 6 and 8 years old, permanent teeth start to grow. They will continue to grow in until you become a young adult. Wisdom teeth usually start to pop up around age 17. Tell your parents if there is oozing or bleeding when a new tooth starts to come in. People with bleeding disorders may have noticeable, prolonged bleeding and might need treatment. Tell your parents and talk to your Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC).

What About Braces?

Kids with bleeding disorders can have braces to straighten their teeth just like anyone else. Remember, you need to keep your teeth especially clean if you have braces.

Here are some facts about braces:

  • Braces act like food magnets! So, brush after meals and be extra careful to get out any food stuck in your braces. Ask your orthodontist about special flossers that help get in and around your braces.
  • Use your finger to check for wires that may be sticking out or poking your gums. If you ever have a loose wire or bracket, or a wire that is poking you, see your orthodontist right away. He or she may adjust the braces or give you some soft wax to stick on the brace bracket that's bothering you. The wax will protect your gums, cheeks, and tongue from cuts and irritation.

Preventing Mouth Injuries

If you play sports, wear a mouth guard! Mouth guards cover the upper teeth and can help protect against broken teeth, cut lips, and mouth injuries. It's especially important to wear a mouth guard if you wear braces. If you've had mouth bleeds, avoid foods like hard pretzels and crusty bread, which can cause cuts, as well as very hot foods that could burn the tongue or roof of your mouth. Never run with anything in your mouth—besides choking, you can hurt your cheeks, teeth, gums, or lips.

In addition to daily brushing and flossing, here are some other tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy:

  • Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. Sugar helps plaque grow, and you don't want that! Snack on fruits and vegetables and drink water instead of soda.
  • Don't smoke. Not only does smoking cause major health problems, tobacco stains your teeth and gums, and causes bad breath. Chewing tobacco and cigarettes increase your chances of getting gum disease, mouth sores, or other serious health problems.
  • Don't get pierced. Mouth and lip piercings are very dangerous for a person with a bleeding disorder. They can cause bleeding, infections, cracked teeth, and damaged gums.