Back-to-school Survival Guide for Braces

It seems like summer took forever to get here, and now it’s already over! With so many kids headed back to school in the coming days, it seems like the perfect time to discuss proper braces care during the school day. This is an important overview for all orthodontic patients, but especially for children and teens who are returning to school for the first time since starting treatment. 

Like any new adventure, wearing braces can come challenges, but Dr. Mack is here to help make the transition from summer to school a little bit smoother. If you’re a little nervous about navigating school with braces, keep reading for a few of our favorite tips for taking braces from the living room to the classroom with no stress! 

Stay prepared

Anyone in braces can benefit from keeping a basic care kit with them, especially if they haven’t been wearing them for very long. Whether you pack these supplies in a purse, backpack, or locker, you’ll be prepared for any braces-related issue that might pop up during the school day. Some common items worth you may want to consider adding to your kit include:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • orthodontic wax
  • lip balm
  • an unsharpened pencil

These can come in handy in a number of ways. Brackets and wires create nooks and crannies that trap food particles and other debris, so we strongly encourage all patients to brush after lunch, with a quick floss added in if there’s the time and space to do so! If you can’t brush, try to at least rinse your mouth with water after eating. 

Braces can occasionally cause mild irritation inside the lips and cheeks, or along the gumline. A pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax placed over the area causing problems is an easy way to reduce that irritation and find some relief.

For wires that have strayed and are poking into the cheeks, the eraser end of a pencil can be used to nudge them back into place.

It’s not uncommon for braces to cause a bit of dryness and irritation to the lips, so lip balm is a must-have for patients all year long!

Be smart

Whether you’re at school, home, or anywhere in between, you’ll need to follow all the same rules for braces care. This is particularly important when it comes to food restrictions. These restrictions can be frustrating, but they’re usually easy enough to manage at home. If you buy school lunches or regularly use a vending machine for snacks, it may be more difficult to steer clear of anything chewy or crunchy. 

To keep your orthodontic treatment progressing as it should, make it a habit to check your school’s lunch menu every week for options that are braces-friendly. Examples of this could be lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. If you’re a picky eater, packing a lunch may make things simpler for you (and your parents!) Pasta, soups, and other soft options are great options for a Thermos, but if you prefer sandwiches, just be sure to cut them into smaller bites the night before. This will make eating and chewing much easier for you, especially after adjustment appointments.  

When it comes to snacks you may be at a loss since you need to avoid things like pretzels, chips, and some raw fruits and veggies. Fortunately, there are still plenty of healthy options available, such as applesauce, yogurt, and string cheese. These are gentle on your braces, and will also keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the school day.

Food isn’t the only lunchtime consideration. What you choose to drink at school can also affect your braces. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day is an excellent way to stay hydrated and keep food particles from sticking to the teeth and braces. Try to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, since these liquids can stain teeth and increase the risk for cavities. If you do indulge in a sweet drink or two, use a straw to keep the sugar as far away from your teeth as possible, and brush as soon as you can!

Stay safe

If you’re a student athlete, or have regular P.E. classes, an orthodontic mouthguard is recommended. Although most people tend to think of sports like football and hockey as the most dangerous for braces patients, almost half of all sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball. An orthodontic mouthguard is designed to be worn with braces, and will be properly fitted to protect your mouth if you are tackled, elbowed, or just fall down. These orthodontic mouthguards can usually be found at most major sporting goods stores, along with non-orthodontic models. Dr. Mack is also happy to recommend or order one for you if you’d prefer to go through our office instead.

Head back to school with a smile on your face thanks to Mack Orthodontics

It’s really common for kids going back to school with new braces to feel nervous or anxious about what to expect. Even if you’re a patient who’s been in braces for a while, you may be struggling with slightly more stress than usual! Thankfully, it only takes a short amount of time for life with braces to become just another part of your daily routine.

At Mack Orthodontics, we work hard to make your orthodontic journey as rewarding and stress-free as possible. For more information on how to navigate the new school year while wearing braces, get in touch with our Burlington or Hillsborough office. We believe everybody deserves a straight-A smile and Dr. Mack is here to help you achieve that!