The first official day of fall isn’t until September 22, so we still have a few more weeks of summer to enjoy. But back-to-school season is in full swing, and before you know it, we’ll be pulling our winter coats and snow boots out of the closet! As we get ready to say goodbye to summer vacation and settle down into the routine of a new school year, it’s the perfect time to talk about proper dental care during the school day with our braces patients. For kids who are returning to school for the first time since beginning orthodontic treatment, this is an especially useful overview!

Like any other new adventure, wearing braces at school will come with its own set of learning curves, but it doesn’t have to be a hardship! It will quickly become just another part of your child’s everyday routine, but in the early days, it can cause some feelings of anxiety or worry. The good news is, with just a little bit of patience, practice, and know-how, your child will be able to make the transition from summer to school like a pro! Bluebird Orthodonticswant to send our student patients back to school with a smile, so keep reading below for our best tips on surviving the school year in braces. 

Be prepared

Keeping a basic care kit on hand can be a great way for students to stay prepared for any braces-related issue that could pop up during the school day, especially for kids who haven’t been wearing them for very long. Some of the most common items we see students including are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • orthodontic wax
  • lip balm
  • an unsharpened pencil

This kit can be useful in a number of ways. Because the brackets and wires that braces are composed of have a tendency to trap stray food particles, we encourage brushing after lunch, with a quick floss added if needed (and if your child has the time!) For lips, gums, and cheeks that are experiencing minor, temporary irritation, a pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax placed over the problem area can offer immediate relief. If a wire has slipped out of place and is irritating the cheek, the eraser end of a pencil can nudge it back into position, and lip balm is soothing on lips that feel dry due to braces-wearing

Be smart

It’s important that your child remembers the same rules apply to caring for their braces whether they are at home, at school, or somewhere in between. This is especially true when it comes to food restrictions. These can be one of the biggest challenges your child will face while undergoing orthodontic treatment, and while they can be easy enough to navigate from home, where you control the menu, it can be a bit more tricky if your child normally buys lunch at school or uses a vending machine for snacks.

To make sure your child’s treatment progresses as it should, check their school’s lunch menu every week and look for braces-friendly options. If you find that the healthy choices tend to be limited, bringing lunch to school instead can sometimes make things simpler. Pack pasta, soups, and other soft options in a Thermos, or cut sandwiches into smaller bites the night before to make them easier to chew. Snacks like soft cheese, yogurt, and applesauce can also be great additions to your child’s lunch bag, and will help keep them feeling full and satisfied throughout the school day.

Braces care doesn’t stop there! What your child chooses to drink at school can also affect their braces. Fill a water bottle and send it to school with your child in the morning so they can drink it throughout the day. This will not only keep their thirst quenched, but help wash away any rogue food particles from their teeth and braces. By encouraging your child to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, you can help them avoid any staining, as well as decrease their risk for cavities. If they indulge in the occasional sweet drink, have them use a straw to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible. 

Be careful

If your child is a student-athlete, or has regular gym or P.E. classes, it’s worth looking into an orthodontic mouthguard for them. Sports and other physical activities increase the risk of braces being damaged and the cheeks, gums, or mouth being injured. Because orthodontic mouthguards are designed specifically to be worn with braces, they are one of the easiest ways to prevent breakage and injury. Orthodontic and non-orthodontic mouthguards both tend to be available at most major sporting goods stores. However, Dr. Frankwill be happy to recommend one or order one for your child according to their specific needs if you prefer!

Start the school year off right with a smile from Bluebird Orthodontics

It’s completely normal for your child or teen to feel nervous about going back to school with braces on if this is their first year doing so. Even patients who have been in braces for a while can struggle with feeling slightly more stressed than usual about the first few weeks!  These feelings are a normal reaction to the unknown, but there’s nothing to fear. The period of transition is brief, and life with braces will become the new norm in no time.

Here at Bluebird Orthodontics, we create beautiful smiles for families in Commack and the surrounding communitiesDr. Frank is experienced and skilled in providing optimal orthodontic care, and our entire team is committed to making each patient’s orthodontic process as rewarding as possible. We want to make the start to the school year stress-free for your student!  If you or your child have any questions or concerns about navigating the new school year while wearing braces, please get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to set your minds at ease. We look forward to seeing your child’s straight-A smile soon!