It seems like summer always takes so long to finally arrive, and then disappears in the blink of an eye! While we still have a few more weeks to enjoy the warmth before the first official day of fall, there’s no denying it’s back-to-school season. Before we break our winter coats and snow boots out of the closet, this is the perfect time to discuss proper dental care during the school day with our patients who are in braces. This overview is particularly helpful for children and teens who are returning to school for the first time since beginning orthodontic treatment.
Wearing braces at school doesn’t have to be difficult, but like any new adventure, it comes with its own set of learning curves. Lincoln Orthodontics is here to provide the information and encouragement your child needs to get through the school day with their smile (and braces) intact. Let’s take a look at some of our best tips for getting back into the swing of school with new braces!
For students undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, we recommend keeping a basic care kit close to hand, especially if they haven’t been wearing them for very long. Some popular items to include are:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss
- orthodontic wax
- lip balm
- an unsharpened pencil (eraser end only!)
These can be useful in many ways. Brackets and wires are notorious for trapping stray food particles, so we encourage brushing after lunch, with a quick floss added if needed (and if your child has time.) Orthodontic wax can help reduce any mild irritation to the lips, gums, or cheeks. This irritation is not uncommon, and is generally temporary. For relief, your student should pinch off and place a pea-sized amount of wax over the offending area. The eraser end of a pencil can be utilized to nudge wires back into place should they stray, and lip balm is soothing on lips that have become dry and chapped due to braces-wearing.
Whether your child is at home, at school, or somewhere in between, the same rules apply when it comes to caring for their braces. This is especially true when it comes to food restrictions, which is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest challenges patients face while undergoing orthodontic treatment. School can make it even harder, since students will need to stick to lunches and snacks that are braces-friendly. It’s easy enough to avoid anything too crunchy or chewy at home, since you control the menu, but it can be a bit more difficult if your child normally buys school lunches or has access to a vending machine for snacks.
To keep their treatment progressing on track, check the school’s lunch menu every week and look for braces-friendly options. This includes things like lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. If you find that the choices tend to be limited, packing a lunch can sometimes simplify things. Invest in a sturdy Thermos and pack pasta, soups, and other soft options that are gentle on braces. If you make a sandwich, cut it into smaller bites the night before to make eating and chewing easier, and to cut down on unsightly food debris. Healthy snacks like yogurt and applesauce can also be great additions, and will help keep your child feeling full and satisfied throughout the school day.
What your child chooses to drink at school can also affect their braces. Staying hydrated should always be a priority, but drinking water is also an easy way to keep any rogue food particles from sticking to the teeth and braces. Fill a water bottle and send it to school with your child in the morning. Drinking it throughout the day will keep their thirst quenched and teeth clean. Encourage your child to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, as these can stain teeth and increase the risk of cavities. For the occasional sweet drink, have your child use a straw to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible.
Is your child a student-athlete, or still regularly participating in gym or P.E.? If so, it may be worth investing in an orthodontic mouthguard for them. Sports and other physical activity increase the risk of braces being damaged, and the cheeks, gums, or mouth being injured. Orthodontic mouthguards are designed specifically to wear with braces, and are the single easiest way to prevent breakage and injury, and ensure your child’s overall oral health. These mouthguards, along with the more common non-orthodontic models, are generally available at most major sporting goods stores, and Lincoln Orthodontics is able to order one for your child as well, if you prefer.
If you are playing an instrument, just understand that it will take time to learn to use your mouthpiece and play your instrument with your braces. Don’t get frustrated if you need to take some extra time to practice. You can use orthodontic wax to cushion your cheeks and lips as you are adjusting.
Start the school year off with a smile thanks to Lincoln Orthodontics
If this is the first time your child will be attending school with braces on, it’s understandable that they may be feeling a little nervous and anxious about such a new experience. Even patients who have been in braces for a while might be slightly more stressed than usual about going back to school. These feelings are not uncommon among orthodontic patients, and a completely normal reaction to the unknown. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for life with braces to become just another part of your child’s daily routine. Being prepared for any dilemma that could pop up during the school day, as well as being careful about keeping their braces and mouth safe, will help the transition from summer to school go smoothly.
At Lincoln Orthodontics, we’ve been creating beautiful smiles for families in and around Lincoln for over twenty years. Our doctors are experienced in providing optimal orthodontic care for children, teen, and adult patients, and our entire team works hard to create an environment that is relaxing and stress-free from the moment you walk in the door. We are dedicated to making every patient’s orthodontic process as rewarding as possible! If you or your child have any questions about navigating the new school year while undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, please get in touch with us. We’ll talk through all your concerns and set your minds at ease. Lincoln Orthodontics is here to help your student step into school this year confident in their smile and their braces!