Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
We can hardly believe it, but summer is already coming to an end. Although there are still a few more weeks to enjoy the warmer temps and longer days, it’s back-to-school season, and before you know it, we’ll be knee-deep in winter! But before we drag our jackets 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 is an especially important overview for kids who are returning to school for the first time since beginning orthodontic treatment. The good news is, wearing braces at school doesn’t have to be a hardship. With a little effort and care, it will quickly become the new normal for your child! Just like any other new adventure, however, orthodontic treatment comes with its own learning curves. Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics is here to help our student patients get through the school day smiling! Keep reading below for our best tips on getting back into the swing of school with braces.
We recommend that every student in braces keep a basic care kit handy, especially for those who haven’t been wearing them for very long. Because the brackets and wires have a tendency to trap food particles, we encourage brushing after lunch, with a quick floss added if needed. Having a few common items in their backpack or locker will keep your child prepared for any braces-related dilemma that might pop up during the school day. Some items they may want to include are:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss
- orthodontic wax
- lip balm
- an unsharpened pencil
These can be useful in many ways. Orthodontic wax is an excellent way to reduce the mild irritation wires and brackets can sometimes cause to the lips, gums, and cheeks by placing a pea-sized amount over the offending area for relief. 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 are dry and irritated due to braces-wearing.
If you have a child in braces who regularly play sports, is active in extracurriculars like cheering, or still has gym classes, it’s worth looking into an orthodontic mouthguard. 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 for wear with braces, and are the easiest way to prevent breakage, injury, and ensure your active child’s oral health. These mouthguards, as well as the more common non-orthodontic models, are generally available at most major sporting goods stores, but if it makes life easier for you, our team is happy to order one for your child as well!
Remind your child that the same rules apply for braces care, whether they are at home, at school, or somewhere in between. This is especially true when it comes to food restrictions, which can be one of the biggest challenges your child will face while undergoing orthodontic treatment. School can make it even harder for kids when it comes to choosing lunches and snacks that are braces-friendly. It’s important to avoid any foods that are too crunchy, sticky, or chewy in order to protect brackets and wires. While this is usually easy enough to manage at home where you can control what’s on the menu, it can be a bit more difficult if your child normally buys school lunches or uses a vending machine for snacks.
To keep 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.
Let Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics send your child back to school smiling
If this is your child’s first year attending school with braces on, the idea of such a new experience can have them feeling nervous and anxious. Even patients who have been in braces for a while might struggle with feeling slightly more stressed than usual about going back to school. These feelings are all common and a normal reaction to the unknown! However, it doesn’t take long for life with braces to become part of your child’s new routine. Being careful, prepared, safe, and smart with their braces will go a long way towards keeping them on the right path towards a straighter, healthier smile!
Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we are proud to create beautiful smiles for families in Summerlin, Northwest LV, and the surrounding communities. Our doctors are experienced in providing the best in orthodontic care, and our entire team is committed to making every patient’s orthodontic process as stress-free and rewarding as possible. If you or your child have any questions or concerns about how to navigate the new school year while undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, please get in touch with us and we’ll do all we can to set your minds at ease. We wish all our teachers and students a wonderful start to the new school year and look forward to seeing your smile on our honor roll in the weeks and months to come!