Even though it seems like summer took forever to get here, we blinked and it’s already almost gone! Though you wouldn’t know it by the heat index most days, most kids are already headed back to school. Getting into the swing of a new school year can be exciting for kids and parents alike, but for students who have recently had braces put on, this may be a more anxious time than it usually is. Changes that seemed manageable at home can feel a bit overwhelming at school, especially in the first few weeks and months.
If you’ve gotten braces recently, we’re here to help make the transition from late nights to early mornings a little easier for you! That’s why our expert team has put together this survival guide for going back to school with braces. Bennett Orthodontics wants you to kick this school year off with a spring in your step and confidence in your smile! Keep reading below for a few of our favorite tips on how to manage braces in the classroom without any extra stress.
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
Keep a water bottle with you
Staying hydrated is important for your overall health, but drinking water regularly throughout the day can also keep food particles from sticking to your teeth and braces. We encourage you to choose water over liquids like soda and fruit juice, since these can stain the teeth and increase the risk of cavities. As a braces patient, they can also lead to white spots that are revealed once 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 possible.
Make snacks and lunches braces-friendly
Food restrictions are often the biggest learning curve when it comes to braces. You likely already know all the foods you need to steer clear of, including anything too crunchy or chewy. While this is usually easy enough to manage at home, you may find it harder to avoid temptation if you tend to buy your lunch at school or regularly get snacks out of a vending machine.
To help keep your treatment plan on track, check out your school’s lunch menu ahead of time to make sure there’s something braces-friendly you can eat each week. This includes popular options like soft vegetables, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and lean cuts of meat. If choices are limited, packing a lunch may make things easier. Keep in mind that it’s easier to eat and chew with braces when the food has been cut into bite-sized pieces. Prep bite-sized pieces the night before to save time and keep lunchtime brushing and flossing to a minimum! Be sure to add healthy snacks like yogurt, applesauce, and cheesestrings to your lunch bag, too. These are gentle on your braces and will also keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.
Get up close and personal
Eating with braces can be tricky, even if the food is orthodontist-approved for brackets and wires. These components create a lot of nooks and crannies that can easily trap food debris as you eat, which can be embarrassing. This also increases the chance of bacteria and plaque setting up shop in your teeth, which may lead to cavities and tooth decay over time.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view….) most people are uncomfortable pointing it out if you have something stuck in your teeth or braces. We recommend keeping a small mirror in your locker or backpack so you can check your braces after you eat, and clear out any offending particles before people have the chance to see!
Protect your smile
If you’re a student athlete or still have regular P.E. classes, we recommend you wear an orthodontic mouthguard. Sports and other physical activity can increase the risk of your braces being damaged. Your cheeks, gums, or mouth could be injured as well. Because orthodontic mouthguards are designed to be worn with braces, they’re the easiest way to prevent injury and ensure your overall oral health! Orthodontic mouthguards are usually available at all major sporting goods store, along with non-orthodontic models. Dr. Bennett is also happy to recommend a model or order one for you if you’d rather go through our practice instead.
Start the school year off with a smile from Bennett Orthodontics
It’s totally normal to feel a little nervous about going back to school with braces. But don’t worry – with a little bit of encouragement and a lot of patience, you’ll get through this year with your smile fully intact! Although the journey to a straighter smile and healthier mouth takes time, we’re here to make it as pleasant and stress-free as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about how to navigate the new school year with braces, get in touch with us any time! We’ll do whatever we can to set your mind at ease and get you off to a great start. Our expert team is here to help you achieve an A+ smile!