Getting ready to go back to school after a summer of fun comes with its own ups and downs. On one hand, it can be exciting for patients and parents alike to get back into the swing of the school routine. On the other hand, students may be feeling nervous about facing the unknown, particularly if they’re dealing with a new adventure like orthodontic treatment. If you had braces put on this summer, you may be anxious about navigating school in the weeks and months ahead. You’re not alone!
Many of the children and teens we treat here at Szymanowski Orthodontics get a bad case of the nerves before heading back to school with braces. But our expert team is here to help you ease into that transition from summer nights to early mornings. We want you to start the school year off right with a spring in your step and confidence in your smile! Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite tips for surviving school as a braces patient.
Give your lunch menu some extra thought
Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves when it comes to being in braces. You already know to stay away from anything too crunchy or chewy, but you may be finding it difficult to avoid treats at school that were easy to ignore at home. This is especially true if you prefer to buy school lunches, or have access to a vending machine for snacks.
To help keep your treatment plan progressing as it should be, check out your school’s lunch menu ahead of time each week. Keep an eye out for braces-friendly options like soft vegetables, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and lean cuts of meat. If the choices are limited or you’re a picky eater, packing a lunch may make life a little easier. It’s easier for braces patients to eat and chew when the food has been cut into bite-sized pieces, so keep that in mind when your pack your lunch.
If you like sandwiches, cut them into smaller pieces the night before to save you some time. This will also keep lunchtime brushing and flossing to a minimum. Consider adding healthy snacks like yogurt, applesauce, and cheese strings to your lunch bag, too! These are gentle on your braces and will help you feel full throughout the day.
Go for H2O
Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, but the benefits don’t stop there! Drinking water throughout the day will also help wash food particles away from your teeth and braces. Choose water over sugary liquids like soda and fruit juice, as these can stain the teeth and increase the risk of you developing cavities. They may also lead to white spots on your teeth that won’t be revealed until your brackets are removed. If you do indulge in a sweet drink here and there, use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth. Don’t forget to brush them as soon as you can, too!
Stay prepared with a basic braces kit
We recommend our braces patients keep a care kit in their purse, backpack, or locker. This can be especially helpful if you’re new to orthodontic treatment! Having a few useful items with you will keep you prepared for any braces-related issues that might unexpectedly pop up during the school day. Consider including things like:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for brushing after lunch
- floss or ortho picks to use after lunch
- orthodontic wax, which can be used to cover any part of your braces causing irritation
- extra rubber bands (you’re probably changing these out frequently each day, anyway)
- lip balm for dry lips, which can be exacerbated by braces
- an unsharpened pencil for the eraser end (this can be used to push any stray wires back into place)
Take a good look at yourself
Eating with braces can be just plain tricky sometimes, no matter how careful you are. Braces are prone to nooks and crannies that can easily trap food particles as you eat, which can be embarrassing! Leftover food also increases the chance of developing bacteria and plaque, which may eventually lead to cavities and tooth decay if left untreated.
Most of us aren’t comfortable pointing it out if there’s something stuck in someone’s teeth or braces. For this reason, we recommend you keep a small mirror in your locker or backpack so you can check your braces after you eat. This will give you the chance to clear out any obvious food particles before people have time to notice!
Protect your braces (along with your smile)
If you’re a student athlete or still have regular P.E. classes, you may want to consider wearing an orthodontic mouthguard. Sports and other physical activities can increase the risk of your braces being damaged or your mouth being injured. Because orthodontic mouth guards are specifically designed to be worn with braces, they’re the easiest way to ensure your overall oral health! These mouth guards can often be found at major sporting goods stores, along with non-orthodontic models. If you’d prefer to go through our practice instead, Dr. Szymanowski is happy to recommend or order one for you.
Start school with a smile thanks to Szymanowski Orthodontics
It’s totally normal to feel nervous about going back to school with new braces, but don’t worry! We work hard to make your orthodontic journey as positive and stress-free as possible. While the journey to a straighter smile and healthier mouth takes a little time and effort, our expert team is committed to helping you achieve an A+ smile!