Back-to-school Survival Guide for Braces

With the first official day of fall only a few weeks away, most kids are heading back to school soon. For children and teens undergoing orthodontic treatment, there’s no better time to review proper braces care during the school day! This is especially important for patients returning to school for the first time since having their braces put on.

Embarking on a new orthodontic journey comes with ups and downs, but Surf City Smiles is here to help make the transition from late nights to early mornings go smoothly. If you’re a new or established patient feeling a little anxious about the upcoming school year, keep reading below for a few of our favorite tips on caring for your braces in and out of the classroom!

Be smart

At school, home, on the sports field, or anywhere in between –  when it comes to caring for your braces, the same rules apply no matter where you are. Paying attention to food restrictions is particularly important, since these are in place to protect both your braces and your teeth while you’re in treatment. While this is relatively easy to manage at home, it might be a bit harder to avoid crunchy and chewy stuff if you buy school lunches or regularly use a vending machine for snacks.

To help you get back into the swing of things at school, start checking the lunch menu for braces-friendly options in the upcoming weeks. This includes foods like lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. If there’s nothing that appeals to you, try packing a lunch instead. Pasta, soups, and other soft options are good choices for a Thermos, or you can cut sandwiches into smaller bites the night before. This will also make eating and chewing much easier for you, especially after adjustment appointments.

Since patients in braces need to steer clear of lots of snack foods like pretzels, chips, and some raw fruits and veggies, you might be at a loss when it comes to choosing something satisfying. However, there are lots of healthy options still on the menu, such as applesauce, yogurt, and bananas. These are gentle on your braces and keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.  

What you choose to drink at school can affect your braces, too. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated, and it will also keep food particles from sticking to your teeth and in your braces. Try to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, since these can stain your teeth and increase the risk for cavities. 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 as soon as you can.  

Be prepared

If you don’t already keep a braces care kit with you, this is the perfect time to make one! These are especially handy if you haven’t been wearing braces for very long. Pop a few commonly used items in a bag, then throw it in your purse, backpack, or locker. This will help keep you prepared for any braces-related issues that may pop up during the school day. Some useful things to include in the kit are:

A soft-bristled toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and dental floss

Brackets and wires create lots of nooks and crannies that can trap food particles and other debris. We encourage all of our school-aged patients to brush after lunch with fluoride toothpaste, followed by a quick floss if there’s time.

Orthodontic wax

You may experience some mild irritation to your lips, cheeks, or gums during the treatment process. A pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax placed over the area causing problems is an easy way to get some fast relief.

An unsharpened pencil

Your wires might stray from time to time, poking into the cheek and irritating the mouth in general. If this occurs, you can use the eraser end of a pencil to nudge them back into place.

Lip balm

Braces can cause dryness and irritation to the lips. Lip balm is a must-have accessory for braces patient!

Be safe

If you’re a student athlete or still have regular P.E. classes, we strongly recommend using an orthodontic mouthguard. Although many people tend to think sports like football and hockey are the most dangerous to teeth, almost half of all sports-related mouth injuries occur in low-impact activities like basketball and baseball!

Orthodontic mouth guards are designed to be worn with braces, and when they are properly fitted, they’ll protect your mouth if you are tackled, elbowed, or get knocked down. These mouth guards can be found at most major sporting goods stores, along with non-orthodontic models. Dr. Carlson is also happy to recommend or order one for you if you’d rather go through our office instead.

Back-to-school Survival Guide for Braces Teen girl with braces

Get your best back to school smile with Surf City Smiles

If you’re going back to school with new braces, it’s not unusual to feel a little bit nervous about what to expect in the months ahead. Even patients who have been in braces for a while can struggle with some anxiety when it’s time to start setting those early alarms! The good news is, it only takes a short amount of time for the ins and outs of braces to become just another part of your regular routine.

Here at Surf City Smiles, we’re committed to making your orthodontic journey as positive and stress-free as possible. For more information on navigating the new school year while wearing braces, get in touch with our expert team. You deserve a straight-A smile, and we’re here to help you achieve that!

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