With summer almost over and most kids heading back to school, there’s no better time to discuss how to properly care for braces inside the classroom. This is especially important information for children and teens who are returning to school for the first time since starting orthodontic treatment!
Like any other new undertaking, braces comes with their own set of challenges. But Dudley Smiles is here to help make the transition from late summer nights to early mornings a little easier! Keep reading below for a few of our favorite tips for confidently heading back to school in braces.
Be prepared with a braces kit
All students in braces benefit from keeping a basic care kit in their purse, backpack, or locker, especially if they haven’t been a patient for very long. Having a few commonly used items nearby helps kids feel prepared for any minor issues that might pop up during the school day. Some things we recommend for the kit include:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss
- orthodontic wax
- lip balm
- an unsharpened pencil
Brackets and wires create nooks and crannies that can trap food particles and other debris, so we encourage brushing after lunch, with a quick floss added if there is time.
Patients may 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 causing problems can be an excellent way to reduce that and find some relief.
If a wire comes loose and is poking the gums or cheek, the eraser end of a pencil can be used to nudge them back into place. Orthodontic wax can be placed over the area for further stability.
Braces can cause and exacerbate lip dryness, chapstick or lip balm is a must-have accessory throughout the year.
Pay attention to the rules
Whether a patient is at school, home, or anywhere in between, the same rules apply. This is especially important when it comes to food restrictions, which can be one of the biggest learning curves to come with braces. School can make it even harder for kids to choose lunches and snacks that are safe for braces! It’s usually easy enough to manage food restrictions at home where parents are in charge of buying groceries, but it may be a bit more difficult for patients who prefer school lunches or have regular access to a vending machine for snacks.
To keep orthodontic treatment on track, we suggest parents check the school’s lunch menu every week for options that are braces-friendly. Examples of this would be lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. If the child is a picky eater, packing a lunch can make life easier for both the patient and the parent sometimes! Pasta, soups, and other soft options are good options for kids who have a Thermos, while sandwiches can be cut into smaller bites the night before. This makes eating and chewing much easier for students in braces, especially after adjustment appointments.
Don’t forget snacks! Patients need to avoid foods like pretzels, chips, and some raw fruits and veggies, but there are still plenty of healthy options available, such as applesauce, yogurt, and bananas. These are gentle on braces, and will also help keep kids feeling full and satisfied throughout the school day.
Food isn’t the only lunchtime consideration, since what a child chooses to drink at school can also affect their braces. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day will keep kids hydrated and wash food particles away from the teeth and braces, too. Stick to plain water, though, and skip any soda or fruit juices. These liquids can stain the teeth and increase the risk for cavities. For the times when a sweet drink is all that will do, use a straw to keep the sugar away from the teeth, and brush as soon as possible.
For student athletes or children who have regular P.E. classes, an orthodontic mouthguard is recommended. A properly fitted orthodontic mouthguard is designed to be worn with braces, and will protect braces from damage and a child’s mouth from injury during sports and other physical activities. Orthodontic mouth guards are usually available at major sporting goods stores, along with non-orthodontic models. Dr. Dudley is also happy to recommend or order one for patients and parents who would prefer to go through our office instead.
Sending students back to school with a smile
It’s not uncommon for kids going back to school with new braces to feel nervous since they aren’t sure what to expect. Even patients who have been in braces for a while can struggle with feeling a little anxious at first! Thankfully, it only takes a short amount of time for life with braces to become just another part of a child’s daily routine.
At Dudley Smiles, we work hard to make every patient’s orthodontic journey as rewarding and exciting as possible. If you’d like more information on how to navigate the new school year while wearing braces, get in touch with our office and our expert team will be happy to help. Every child deserves a straight-A smile, and Dudley Smiles will help your child achieve exactly that!