It seems like summer took forever to show up, and now it’s almost over! With the first official day of fall only a few weeks away and most kids heading back to school, this is the perfect time to talk about how to care for braces inside the classroom and out. For students who are returning to school for the first time since starting orthodontic treatment, this can be really helpful information to have.
Like any new adventure in life, traditional braces can come with their own set of challenges. Ollins Orthodontics is here to help make that transition a little easier! If your child is heading back to school in braces, they may be feeling a little anxious about what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. Keep reading below for a few of our top tips on navigating braces as a student!
Stay prepared with a basics braces kit
Any student in braces will benefit from keeping a basic care kit in their purse, backpack, or locker. For those new to the treatment process, this kit can help them feel prepared and ready to handle any minor issues that might pop up during the school day. Some things we recommend including in the kit are:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss
- orthodontic wax
- lip balm
- an unsharpened pencil
These items can be helpful in a number of ways. 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.
Occasional mild irritation inside the lips, cheeks, and along the gum line isn’t unusual for braces patients. A pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax placed over the area causing problems can be an excellent way to reduce irritation 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 then be placed over the area for further stability.
Braces will often cause or exacerbate lip dryness. For this reason, we view chapstick or lip balm as a must-have accessory for braces patients all year long.
Don’t stray from the treatment plan
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 easy enough to manage food restrictions at home when parents are in charge of buying groceries, but it can be a bit more difficult if a patient prefers school lunches or has regular access to a vending machine.
To keep orthodontic treatment on track, check the school’s lunch menu every week for options that are braces-friendly, like lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. For picky eaters, packing a lunch can simplify life for both the patient and the parent sometimes! Pasta, soups, and other soft options are great options if you have a Thermos, while sandwiches can be cut into smaller bites the night before for easier chewing. This can be especially helpful after adjustment appointments, when a child’s mouth may be feeling tender.
Even though braces patients need to avoid foods like pretzels, chips, and some raw fruits and veggies, there are still plenty of healthy options available, such as applesauce, yogurt, cheese strings, 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. What a child chooses to drink at school can affect their oral health almost as much as what they eat. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day will help kids stay hydrated and also washes food particles away from the teeth and braces. Stick to plain water, though, and skip any soda or fruit juices. These liquids can stain the teeth and increase the risk for cavities. They can also create unsightly white marks on the teeth that are often revealed only after braces have been removed. 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. Ollins is also happy to recommend or order one for patients and parents who would rather go through our office instead.
Start the school year off right with a smile from Ollins Orthodontics
For kids going back to school with new braces, it’s not unusual to feel nervous, especially if they aren’t sure what to expect. Even patients who have been in braces for a while can struggle with a little anxiety at first! The good news is, with a little patience, braces will become just another part of your child’s daily routine in almost no time at all.
Our team here at Ollins Orthodontics is dedicated to making every patient’s orthodontic journey a positive, stress-free experience. If you’d like more information on how to navigate the new school year while wearing braces, our expert team is here to help! Every child deserves a straight-A smile, and we’re proud to help your child achieve exactly that.