The first official day of fall is only a few weeks away, and many kids are heading back to school soon. That makes it the perfect time to discuss how to properly care for braces during the school day! This is especially important information for children and teens who are returning to school for the first time since starting orthodontic treatment and exactly why we made our back-to-school survival guide for braces.
Like any other new adventure, wearing braces has its own set of learning curves, but Champlain Orthodontics is here to help make it a smooth transition from late nights to early mornings. Keep reading below for a few of our favorite tips on taking braces into the school year with no stress!
Students who are in braces will benefit from keeping a basic care kit in their purse, backpack, or locker. This is especially true if they haven’t been wearing them for very long! Having a few commonly used items close by is a great way to stay prepared for any braces-related issues that may pop up during the school day. Some of the things we encourage patients to include in their kit are:
A soft-bristled toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and dental floss
Because brackets and wires create nooks and crannies that can trap food particles and other debris, we encourage all of our school-aged patients to brush after lunch with fluoride toothpaste, followed by a quick floss if there’s time.
It’s not unusual for patients to experience mild irritation from their braces occasionally, especially inside the lips and cheeks, or along the gumline. A pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax placed over the area that is causing problems is an excellent way to get some relief.
An unsharpened pencil
Wires can sometimes stray, poking into the cheek and irritating the mouth in general. If this occurs, the eraser end of a pencil can be used to nudge them back into place.
Braces can cause dryness and irritation to the lips, making lip balm a must-have accessory all year long!
Whether a patient is at school, home, or anywhere in between, they must be careful to follow the same rules for braces care, especially when it comes to food restrictions. These restrictions are often one of the biggest challenges children and teens face while going through the orthodontic process. Getting back into the swing of things at school can make it even harder for kids to choose lunches and snacks that are safe for braces! Although this is relatively easy to manage at home, where parents can keep kids away from anything too chewy or crunchy, it may be a bit harder for patients who regularly buy school lunches or use a vending machine for snacks.
If you have a student undergoing orthodontic treatment, we recommend checking the school’s lunch menu every week for options that are braces-friendly, such as lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. Have a picky eater? Packing a lunch can sometimes make things simpler for both of you! Try pasta, soups, and other soft options in a Thermos, or cut sandwiches into smaller bites the night before. This makes eating and chewing much easier, especially after adjustment appointments.
You may not be sure what snacks to include, since patients in braces need to steer clear of foods like pretzels, chips, and some raw fruits and veggies. Healthy options like applesauce, yogurt, and bananas can help kids feel full and satisfied throughout the school day, as well as being gentle on braces.
It may not be something you’ve considered, but what a child chooses to drink at school can affect their braces, too. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day is an excellent way to stay hydrated and keep food particles from sticking to the teeth and braces. We encourage patients to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, since these liquids can stain teeth and increase the risk for cavities. When your child does indulge in a sweet drink or two, they should use a straw to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible, and brush as soon as they are able to.
Do you have a student athlete in your life? Even if you just have a child in braces who still has regular P.E. or gym classes, an orthodontic mouthguard is recommended. Although people tend to think sports like football and hockey are the most dangerous for teeth, almost half of all sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball!
You can help keep your child’s mouth safe by having them wear a properly fitted orthodontic mouthguard. These mouthguards are designed to be worn with braces, and they protect the mouth if a child is tackled, elbowed, or gets knocked down. Orthodontic mouthguards, as well as non-orthodontic models, can usually be found at most major sporting goods stores. Dr. Ryan and Dr. Eaton are also happy to recommend or order one for you if you’d prefer to go through our office instead.
Back to school smiles with Champlain Orthodontics
It’s not unusual for kids going back to school with new braces to feel a little bit nervous about what to expect. Even patients who have been in braces for a while can struggle with some anxiety! Fortunately, it will only take a short amount of time for the ins and outs of braces to become just another part of your child’s daily routine.
At Champlain Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to making every patient’s orthodontic journey as rewarding and stress-free as possible. For more information on how to help your child navigate the new school year while wearing braces, get in touch with our office. Everyone deserves a straight-A smile, and our team is here to help your child accomplish that!