If your child had braces placed over the summer, they are probably just starting back to school with those new braces. Having braces during the break and at home is one thing—having braces during the school year is a little different. If your teen has already started school or is going to start school soon, they might be nervous about how they are going to adjust to a class schedule and extracurricular activities with their braces.
So, here’s some helpful information that you need to know.
1. Make sure they have a braces care kit.
What is a braces care kit? It’s a bag or pouch of stuff that they might need to keep their braces clean and comfortable during the school day. An ideal kit is perfect just in case they want to check and make sure there is nothing stuck in their braces but they don’t have time to visit the bathroom before class starts. If their braces require rubber bands, a few extra bands is also a good idea, as is some of the wax that Dr. Nay has given them, so they can smooth over any irritating brackets or wires. This is basically everything they need to handle any problem with their braces, at least until they get home.
Consider including the following items in the braces care kit:
· Dental floss
· Dental wax
· Small mirror
· Lip balm
2. Pack easy lunches.
Unless their school provides a lunch program (which, in that case, it will be your child’s responsibility to make sure that they are picking foods that will not harm their braces), making sure that they have a lunch that complies with Dr. Robert Nay’s dietary rules is essential. Just make sure that raw carrots, whole apples, nuts, chips, or large pieces of meat are items not on the menu. For example, it’s best to stay away from hard, gooey, sticky, and crunchy foods, as they can break or damage the wires and brackets of the braces.
The temptation to eat candy, chew gum or ice is even higher in school. One common recommendation is to pack yogurt, apple sauce, or other soft-sweet foods to satisfy sugar cravings.
When going back to school with braces, it’s highly recommended that children get in the habit of packing a lunch. Packing a lunch is the best way to ensure that all food options are braces-friendly. Since it’s easier to eat and chew with braces when food is cut into bite-sized pieces. Biting into sandwiches, for example, can result in large amounts of bread, mayo, cheese, and lunchmeat getting stuck in the front braces. Cutting food into bite sized pieces will save time from brushing and flossing at school, and prepping the food before school will ensure it actually gets done.
3. Pack a water bottle and stay hydrated.
Drinking enough water is essential for health, but it is especially important when your child has braces. Not only does drinking plenty of water help to clear away and food pieces that might be hiding around the brackets or underneath the wire, water helps to neutralize the acids from the foods eaten and will promote better oral health. While most schools have water fountains, having a water bottle in their backpack is the best way to encourage them to drink water and is more convenient than getting up and leaving class when they need a drink.
4. Have a mouth guard handy for sports.
The mouth guard your child may have used last year for football or soccer may not work now there are braces. Any sport that might cause injury to the mouth usually requires their players to wear a mouth guard. This could be football, soccer, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, etc. If you suspect that your child is going to need a mouth guard at all, have one on hand and ready to be molded, so he/she does not have to worry about whether or not they are going to be able to play. Be sure to check the packaging to make sure it is an “orthodontic” mouth guard that is specifically designed to be worn with braces.
5. Let them have a special treat.
During the summer, most kids see only their friends. Heading back into the halls of a school, can be challenging for both you and your child. Letting them have a small treat of a milkshake or a smoothie, especially on days when they have had an adjustment to their braces, and it can be a great pick-me-up. Dr. Nay instructs his patients to avoid certain kinds of food. For example, it’s best to stay away from hard, gooey, sticky, and crunchy foods as they can break or damage the wires and brackets of the braces.
Other treats might include a little bit of ice cream (as long as it does not contain nuts) or some pudding. Even a small piece of cake might be a nice treat. Don’t be afraid to spoil them a little bit. Braces can be a big transition period for your child. Although they have to wear them for a relatively short amount of time (especially compared to how long they will be able to enjoy a healthy, straight smile), it can still be a rough time. A small treat can take some of the edge off.