You may not know it from the heat index, but summer is definitely almost over and most kids are already headed back to school. Getting into the swing of a brand new school year can be exciting for patients and parents alike, but if a student has recently had braces put on, it may be an anxious time, too. The big changes that felt manageable at home may seem a little overwhelming at school, especially in the beginning.
Did you have braces put on this summer here at Brady Orthodontics? If so, our expert team has all hands on deck to help make the transition from the late nights of summer to the early school mornings a little easier for you! We want you to start this year with a spring in your step and confidence in your smile, so keep reading below for a few of our favorite tips on how to navigate braces as you head back to school.
Plan your lunch menu ahead of time
Food restrictions are one of the biggest learning curves when it comes to braces. You’re probably already all too aware of the foods you need to steer clear of, but you may be finding it harder to avoid temptations at school that were easily ignored at home. This is especially true if you buy school lunches or regularly use a vending machine for snacks.
Keep your treatment plan on track by making it a habit now to check out your school’s lunch menu ahead of time. Look for braces-friendly options each week, including items like soft vegetables, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and lean cuts of meat. If the choices are limited or you’re a picky eater, packing a lunch may make things easier!
It’s easier to eat and chew with braces when the food has been cut into bite-sized pieces, so keep that in mind as your pack your lunch. Prepping bite-sized pieces the night before will save you time and keep lunchtime brushing and flossing to a minimum. Healthy snacks like yogurt, applesauce, and cheese strings are good to add to your lunch bag, too. They’re gentle on your braces and also keep you feeling full throughout the day.
Stay prepared with a basic braces kit
We recommend that any student in braces keep a care kit in their purse, backpack, or locker, but this is especially helpful if you’re new to orthodontic treatment. Having a few useful items packed away nearby can prepare you for any braces-related issues that might pop up during the school day. Some of the best items to include are:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for brushing after lunch
- floss or ortho picks to use after lunch (if you have the time and space to do so)
- orthodontic wax, which can be used to cover any part of your braces causing irritation
- extra rubber bands (you should probably be changing these out frequently daily, anyway!)
- lip balm for dry lips caused by braces
- an unsharpened pencil for the eraser end, which can be used to push any stray wires back into place
Go with H2O
Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, and drinking water throughout the day will also keep food particles from sticking to your teeth and braces. Choose water over sugary liquids like soda and fruit juice, as these can stain the teeth and increase the risk of cavities. They can also lead to white spots on your teeth that won’t be revealed until your brackets are removed. If you do indulge in a sweet drink or two, use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth, and be sure to brush them as soon as you can.
Check yourself out
Sometimes eating with braces can be just plain tricky, even if the food is orthodontist-approved for the brackets and wires! These components create several nooks and crannies that can easily trap food particles as you eat, which can be unsightly and embarrassing. Leftover food also increases the chance of bacteria and plaque getting a foothold in your teeth, which may eventually lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about it….) most people don’t feel comfortable pointing it out if you have something stuck in your teeth or braces. For this reason, we recommend keeping a small mirror in your locker or backpack so you can check your braces after you eat. This gives you the chance to clear out any offending food particles before people notice it!
Protect your braces (and your smile)
If you’re a student athlete or still have regular P.E. classes, we will often recommend that you wear an orthodontic mouthguard. Sports and any other physical activity can increase the risk of your braces being damaged or your mouth being injured. Orthodontic mouthguards are specifically designed to be worn with braces, so they’re the easiest way to prevent injury and ensure your overall oral health! These specialized mouthguards are usually available at major sporting goods store, along with their non-orthodontic counterparts. Dr. Brady is also happy to recommend a particular model or order one for you if you’d rather go through our practice instead.
Start school with a smile thanks to Brady Orthodontics
If you’re feeling a little nervous about going back to school with braces, it’s totally normal! This is a common concern among our school-aged patients, but don’t worry – with a little bit of patience, you’ll get through this year with your smile intact. The journey to a straighter smile and healthier mouth does takes time and effort, but Brady Orthodontics is here to help you achieve an A+ smile!