As long as it takes for summer vacation to get here, it certainly seems to disappear in the blink of an eye. There may be a few more weeks until the first official day of fall, but back-to-school season is already in full swing here in Bakersfield! In between shopping for school supplies and getting back on a schedule, this is the perfect time to discuss how to properly care for braces during the school day. This overview is especially helpful if your child is returning to school for the first time since beginning orthodontic treatment.
Like any new adventure, wearing braces at school has a learning curve, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Thurman Orthodontics is here to provide you and your child with all the information and encouragement needed to make a smooth, stress-free transition from summer to school! Let’s look at a few of our best tips for getting back into the swing of school with new braces!
We recommend that all our braces patients keep a basic care kit close to hand, especially if they haven’t been wearing them for very long. Some of the items we suggest having in the kit include:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss
- orthodontic wax
- lip balm
- an unsharpened pencil
Brackets and wires can easily trap food particles, so we encourage patients to brush after lunch, and add in a quick floss if needed. It’s not uncommon for braces to cause some mild, temporary irritation to the lips, gums, or cheeks from time to time. For relief, instruct your child in pinching off a pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax and placing it over the area causing the irritation. If a stray wire is poking into the cheeks, the eraser end of a pencil can be used to nudge it back into place. Last but not least, lip balm is soothing on lips that have become dry and chapped due to braces-wearing. Some students also like to carry a travel-sized mouthwash with them.
Home, school, or somewhere in between, the same rules apply to braces care wherever your child may be. This is particularly true for food restrictions, which are probably one of the biggest challenges a patient will face while in braces. School can compound this since students will need to stick to lunches and snacks that are braces-friendly. It’s relatively easy to avoid eating anything too crunchy or chewy at home, since you’re in control of 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 orthodontic treatment progressing on target, check the school’s lunch menu every week with an eye to braces-friendly options. If you find that the choices tend to be somewhat limited, packing a lunch can simplify things. Pack pasta, soups, and other soft options in a sturdy Thermos for lunches that are gentle on braces, or if your child prefers sandwiches, cut it into smaller bites the night before to make eating and chewing easier. Healthy snacks like yogurt, applesauce, and softer cheeses can also be great snack choices, and will help keep your child feeling full and satisfied throughout the school day.
Braces care doesn’t stop with oral hygiene or the foods your child is eating! What they choose to drink at school can also affect their appliance. Staying hydrated is important, but drinking water is also an easy way to keep food debris from sticking to the teeth and braces. Send a full water bottle to school with your child in the morning, and encourage them to drink it throughout the day to keep their thirst quenched and teeth clean. For the occasional sweet drink of soda or fruit juice, have your child use a straw to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible.
If your child is in braces and participates in sports or still has a gym or P.E. class, an orthodontic mouthguard can be a worthwhile investment. Sports and other physical activity increase the risk of braces being damaged and the mouth area being injured. Because orthodontic mouthguards are designed specifically to wear with braces, they are one of the easiest ways to prevent breakage and injury. These mouthguards, along with non-orthodontic models, are generally available at most major sporting goods stores. Thurman Orthodontics is also able to order one of these for your child, if you prefer.
Start the school year off right with Thurman Orthodontics
If your child has never attended school with braces on before, they may be feeling a little nervous and anxious. Even patients who have been in braces for a while might be slightly more stressed than usual about going back to school. This is a common and perfectly normal reaction to a new experience, but the good news is, it doesn’t take long for life with braces to become just another part of your child’s daily routine. By preparing students for any dilemma that could pop up during the school day, as well as being careful about keeping their braces and mouth safe, you’ll be able to help them start the school year confident in their smile and their braces!
At Thurman Orthodontics, we’ve created a fun office atmosphere, with an average wait time of fewer than five minutes so that we can get you and your child in and out of their appointments without wrecking your schedule. We’re proud to create beautiful smiles for families in Bakersfield and the surrounding communities, and our customer service is second to none! Dr. Thurman is highly skilled and experienced, and provides the best in orthodontic care for our children, teen, and adult patients. 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 help to set your minds at ease. Let this school year be your child’s best with braces by Thurman Orthodontics!