Now that the summer’s almost over and kids are heading back to school, it’s the perfect time to talk about caring for braces inside the classroom and out. This is especially useful information for children and teens who are returning to school for the first time since starting orthodontic treatment. Just like any new adventure, traditional braces come with their own set of challenges, but Grubaugh Orthodontics is here to help make that transition a little easier! Keep reading below for a few of our top tips if you have a child heading back to school in braces.
Stay aware and prepared with a braces kit
All of our braces patients who are also students 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
The items included in a braces kit 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.
Stick to 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, we encourage parents to check the school’s lunch menu every week for options that are braces-friendly. Examples of this would be popular foods 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 for kids who 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.
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, since what a child chooses to drink at school also affects their oral health. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day keeps kids hydrated and washes 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. Grubaugh is also happy to recommend or order one for patients and parents who would rather go through our office instead.
Send students back to school with a smile from Grubaugh Orthodontics
It’s not unusual for kids going back to school with new braces 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! Thankfully, braces will become just another part of a child’s daily routine in almost no time at all. At Grubaugh Orthodontics, we work hard to make every patient’s orthodontic journey a positive 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! We believe that every child deserves a straight-A smile, and are proud to help your child achieve exactly that.