Where did the summer go? Even though the heat index is still stuck in triple digits most days, it’s already time to start a new school year. Getting into the swing of things is exciting for kids (and parents!) However, for students who have recently gotten braces, heading back to school can feel more stressful than usual. With changes to their appearance and their daily routine, what seemed like small potatoes at home may be a little overwhelming at school, particularly in the first few days and weeks. Here at SCO, we do our best to make every patient’s orthodontic experience as rewarding as possible. If you have a child who is going back to school with braces, here are a handful of tips we’ve put together to help make the transition smooth and stress-free!
Keep a braces care kit close by
We recommend every student in braces have a care kit with them at school, but this is especially helpful for kids who are new to orthodontic treatment. Having just a few common items packed away in their backpack or locker helps to prepare them for any braces-related dilemmas. Some of the best items to include are:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss
- dental wax
- lip balm
Because brackets and wires have a tendency to hang onto food, it’s ideal for students to brush after lunch, and floss if needed. These components can also cause mild irritation to the lips, gums, and cheeks from time to time. A small amount of dental wax placed on the offending area can reduce irritation until the problem can be fixed. Lip balm is a big help for lips that are dry and irritated due to braces!
Carry a water bottle for quick hydration
Staying hydrated is always important for your child’s overall health, but drinking enough water is also an easy way to keep food particles from sticking to the teeth and braces. Encourage water over other liquids, especially soda and other sugary drinks. These can stain the teeth, and when a child is wearing braces, this can result in white spots once the brackets are removed. If you have a child who insists on the occasional soda or fruit juice, make sure they use a straw in order to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible.
Keep snacks and lunches braces-friendly
Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves with new braces, and school can compound that. You can read our previous blog post on “What Can I Eat with Braces?” here. Foods that are too crunchy, sticky, and chewy should be avoided because of their potential to damage the wires and brackets. This is easy enough to manage at home, but if your child buys their lunches or has access to vending machines for snacks during the day, the temptation to indulge in some of their favorite forbidden foods can be strong. Check the school’s lunch menu every week to make sure something your child can eat is on offer. This includes popular options like soft vegetables, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and lean cuts of meat.
If choices are limited, packing a lunch may make things easier. It’s easier to eat and chew with braces when food is cut into bite-sized pieces. Biting into a whole sandwich can cause large amounts of bread, cheese, lunch meat, and other fillings to get stuck in the front braces, which is unsightly and inconvenient. Prepping bite-sized pieces the night before will save time and keep lunchtime brushing and flossing to a minimum. Be sure to add healthy snacks like yogurt and applesauce to lunch bags to keep your child feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.
Mirror, mirror on the (locker) wall
Eating with braces can sometimes be tricky, even if the food is friendly for brackets and wires. There are a lot of nooks and crannies that can easily trap food debris, which can be embarrassing. It can also increase the chance of bacteria and plaque setting up shop, causing cavities and tooth decay. Unfortunately, most of us don’t like to point it out when someone has something stuck in their teeth or braces! Encourage your student to keep a small mirror in their locker or backpack to check their teeth for food particles after eating.
Have a mouthguard on hand
If your child wears braces and has recess or gym class, you may want to consider investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. Sports and other physical activity can increase the risk of braces being damaged or your child’s cheeks, gums, or mouth being injured. Orthodontic mouthguards are constructed to be worn with braces, and they are the simplest way to prevent injury and ensure oral health. These mouthguards are usually available at all major sporting goods store, or SCO is happy to order one for you!
Start the school year off right with Saddle Creek Ortho
It’s normal to feel a little nervous about going back to school with braces, but with a little bit of encouragement and a lot of patience, your child can get through the first few days with their smile fully intact! The journey to a straighter smile and healthier mouth takes time, but we aim to make it as pleasant and exciting as it can be. We want to help make this school year a success for all the students we treat, so if you or your child have any questions or concerns, just give us a call and we’ll do all we can to keep the orthodontic process rolling along smoothly.
Saddle Creek Ortho wishes all our students and teachers a wonderful start to the school year. Stop by one of our three offices anytime to say hi and let us know how things are going!