The new school year is just around the corner, if your kids haven’t already started back. Before you know it, life will once again be full of early morning alarms (with a solid number of snooze buttons hit, of course), extracurriculars, and homework every night. Summer break was full of fun while it lasted, but now it’s time to hit the books.
Making the transition back can be a bit of a challenge, especially for kids starting the year in braces for the first time. Here at Dillehay Orthodontics, we want to help ensure your student gets off to the best start possible, so we’ve put together a back to school braces survival guide to help keep them smiling from September until next summer!
2 + 2
It’s an easy enough math problem, but it can also be an easy solution to help keep teeth healthy and clean! Good dental hygiene is always important, but especially when wearing braces. Food can get stuck in brackets and wires, causing bacteria to gather and multiply, which can lead to a build-up of plaque and cavities. Brushing at least 2 minutes + 2 times per day will keep teeth sparkling! Don’t forget about flossing, either – although this can be trickier with braces, there are tools like floss threaders and water piks to make it easier and more efficient. For the most optimal results, brush and floss thoroughly 3-4 times per day, or after every meal and before bed.
Make H2O a habit
We all know how essential water is for our overall health. But getting enough H2O when wearing braces is particularly important. Upping your teen’s intake will help keep brackets and wires clear of any food pieces that might be hiding, and it also helps to neutralize the acids from food and drink. This keeps the whole mouth healthier.
Water fountains are often few and far between at school, so encourage your kiddo to keep a water bottle in their backpack and drink frequently throughout the day. This will keep them hydrated, help remove food particles from the teeth, and wash away any sugar, acid, or bacteria that can be harmful to their mouth.
Prepare a backpack braces kit
Having a braces care kit on hand can be helpful in keeping braces clean and comfortable while your child is at school. This is just a collection of useful items that can be kept in a backpack, purse, or locker. Ideally, this kit would include things like:
- an orthodontic toothbrush
- floss or flossing picks
- a compact mirror
- a few extra rubber bands
- orthodontic wax
There are a few common dental issues that might crop up with braces during the school day, and a care kit can provide pretty much anything needed to handle them until students are home for the day, or able to make it to one of our offices. Take a look at a few of these potential problems and how your teen can troubleshoot them.
Mouth irritation – Sometimes brackets or wires can come loose, causing irritation or pain to the lips and cheeks. After making sure that the area is as dry as possible, a pea-sized piece of wax can be rolled into a ball, flattened, then placed over the area causing irritation for instant relief.
Protruding wires – If a loose wire is irritating the inside of your child’s mouth, the eraser end of a #2 pencil can be used to gently nudge it back into place, flat against the teeth. Placing a piece of wax over the wire will provide some relief and stability. This should tide them over until their next appointment.
Loose bracket – Let us know as soon as possible if a bracket comes loose, and we can help you determine what steps you’ll need to take next. In the meantime, putting wax over the loose bracket will provide a little bit of stability. The bracket can also be slid back along the wire to the center of the tooth.
Lunch doesn’t need to be a landmine
Away from home, it can be tempting for teens to indulge in foods and drinks that aren’t good for their braces, but steering clear of anything crunchy, chewy, sticky, or hard is an essential part of successful orthodontic treatment, since these items can bend or damage the wires and brackets. Having a long list of foods to avoid can be discouraging, but there are still plenty of lunch foods to love. Check the school’s weekly lunch menu, or plan packed lunches, to ensure everything your child chows down on is braces-friendly.
Safeguard that smile
If your child played sports that required a mouth guard before getting braces, they’ll need to have a new one made now, especially if the team they’re on uses the molded option. In any sport that might cause injury to the mouth, a properly fitted mouth guard is an important piece of equipment. This includes contact sports like football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, etc. Mouthguards will not only protect braces, but your teen’s teeth and jaw, too.
Take time to treat them
Braces are a big change, and getting used to them at school can be a challenge in and of itself. On the bad days, encourage your child to indulge a little. Milkshakes and smoothies can be soothing after an adjustment appointment, and things like pudding, cake, and ice cream can all be a great pick-me-up as long as you remember moderation is key. A small treat for your teen here and there can help to take the edge off a real time of transition for them.
Beating the back to school blues with Dillehay Orthodontics
Following the tips above can helps students with a smooth transition from summer into the school year, but should you need some extra encouragement or guidance, we’re here for you – just give us a call. With three conveniently located offices in Wichita and Derby, and two satellite offices in Arkansas City and Pratt, we’re able fit your teen in for an appointment whenever necessary. And our trained, talented team will be happy to help you troubleshoot from home as well!
The unknown can be intimidating, and it’s totally normal to be nervous starting the school year with new orthodontic treatment, but Dillehay Orthodontics believes braces can be a breeze! Between our two experienced orthodontists, top-notch technology, and advanced techniques, we’ve got what it takes to keep your teen scoring a 100% smile all year long!