How to Care for Braces Now that School's Back in Session
How to Care for Braces Now that School's Back in Session

How to Care for Braces Now that School's Back in Session

The return to school can bring a unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining good oral hygiene with braces. Balancing classes, school lunches, and a busy schedule can sometimes make it difficult to give braces the care they need. However, with some diligence and smart strategies, you can ensure that your braces continue to work their magic even during the school year.

Follow these practical tips to care for your braces as the school routine picks up. We've got you covered, so let's dive in!

#1 Stay Consistent with Cleaning

Daily oral hygiene is crucial when you have braces, and busy school mornings can make it a bit more challenging. Establish a regular routine for brushing and flossing at the same times each day. Consider posting reminders near sinks or packing your toiletries the night before to save time.

If mornings are rushed, encourage your kids to brush at school. Using floss threaders and interdental brushes can help navigate those tight spaces between wires and brackets. It's also a good idea to pack a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, and floss for school, enabling your child to brush after lunch. Emphasize that braces tend to trap more food, making mid-day cleaning essential. To reduce plaque buildup, discourage snacking between meals. Finally, schedule seasonal cleanings with your orthodontist to ensure a thorough cleaning and debridement.

#2 Exercise Caution with Cafeteria Foods

School lunches require extra precautions when you have braces. Avoid sticky and chewy foods like gum, caramel, Skittles, and Gushers, as they can tug on brackets. For harder items like pizza, apples, and carrots, cut them into small, manageable bites to avoid damaging your braces. When dealing with giant sandwiches, it's a good idea to remove the top layers rather than tearing into them.

Steer clear of "forbidden" foods that can break brackets, such as nuts, seeds, hard chips, beef jerky, popcorn, and hard candies. When eating, be mindful of using your front teeth and chew slowly. If food gets stuck on your braces, make sure to scrape it off immediately. After meals, rinse your mouth to wash away any remaining debris. Additionally, try to limit sugary foods to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

#3 Handle Emergencies

Despite your best efforts, occasional braces mishaps can happen at school. Wires, brackets, or rubber bands may break due to pressure or unexpected incidents. It's a good practice to keep orthodontic wax and a small dental kit on hand for quick fixes until you can visit your orthodontist.

If a wire is irritating your cheeks or gums, use wax to provide temporary padding. If a bracket pops off, carefully remove any jagged wire ends with nail clippers and save the broken piece. In case of severe discomfort or if a piece is accidentally swallowed, don't hesitate to call your orthodontist immediately. They will guide you on the necessary steps to take.

#4 Be Cautious with School Activities

Certain school activities may pose risks to braces, so it's important to exercise caution. If you're involved in contact sports like soccer, basketball, or volleyball, always wear a mouthguard to protect your braces from impact injuries. Custom-fit mouthguards provided by your orthodontist offer the best protection.

In classes where you might encounter potential hazards, take necessary precautions. In science labs for example, keep your face away from flames, wear goggles, and tie back long hair. Avoid playing musical instruments like high-pitched flutes that exert too much pressure on braces. If you ever feel that an activity could pose a risk to your braces, don't hesitate to communicate your concerns to protect your investment.

#5 Prioritize Proper Oral Hygiene

Reinforce good brushing and flossing techniques at home to keep your braces free of debris. Use a soft-bristle brush and the Angle technique: brush at a 45-degree angle downward to effectively sweep between the brackets and gums. Spend 2-3 minutes on each section of your mouth.

When flossing, be meticulous in cleaning up and down each tooth and maneuvering under the wires. After eating, rinse your mouth thoroughly. While wearing braces, try to limit your consumption of stain-causing beverages like coffee, tea, or juice. Stick to your orthodontist-recommended cleaning schedule for the best results.

#6 Utilize Braces-Friendly Accessories

There are specialized products designed to make caring for your braces more convenient. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush or a water flosser for efficient cleaning around brackets. Rubber tip floss threaders can smoothly navigate between wires.

Fluoride rinses play a crucial role in neutralizing plaque acids and strengthening enamel. Mouthguards provide cushioning during sports activities and protect against nighttime teeth grinding. Wax covers can alleviate irritation caused by brackets. Don't hesitate to consult your orthodontist for recommendations on essential accessories that can simplify your braces care routine and ensure you get the most out of your investment.

#7 Stick to Scheduled Adjustments

Maintain all your bracket adjustment and tightening appointments throughout the school year, even if your braces seem to be doing fine. These ongoing adjustments are essential to completing your treatment as estimated. Skipping appointments can potentially extend the total duration of your treatment.

To avoid missing appointments, set reminders on your calendar and schedule them earlier in the day to avoid conflicts with after-school activities. If you anticipate being late or absent for your orthodontic adjustments, always communicate with your teacher to make arrangements. Keep track of pre-scheduled appointments for bands, wires, and repairs to stay on top of your treatment plan.

#8 Maintain a Balanced Diet

A nutritious diet not only benefits your overall health but also contributes to the success of your braces treatment by strengthening teeth and gums. Prioritize crunchy fruits and vegetables, but remember to cut them into manageable pieces to avoid damaging your braces. Try options like apples, carrots, cucumbers, or celery, which naturally help remove plaque.

Additionally, include dairy products like milk and drink plenty of water to remineralize tooth enamel, which may be weakened by braces. Consider taking chewable vitamins to supplement any nutrients you might miss due to dietary restrictions. Encourage kids to limit excessive snacking and eat only at designated mealtimes. Adhere to your orthodontist's dietary recommendations for optimal results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Braces

Q1: What precautions should be taken when playing sports with braces?

When participating in contact sports like soccer, basketball, and football, always wear a mouthguard to protect your braces from potential impact injuries. Custom-fit mouthguards provided by your orthodontist offer the best protection. If wires ever poke into your lips or cheeks following a sports incident, use wax to provide temporary relief, and contact your orthodontist for a check-up. It's also a good idea to avoid sports like wrestling that could catch braces on clothing.

Q2: How can I make flossing with braces easier for my child?

Flossing can be challenging with braces, but it's essential. You can make it easier by using floss threaders, small interdental brushes, or water flossers. Encourage your child to floss after every meal at school to minimize plaque buildup in the brackets. Consider packing portable flossing tools in their backpack. You can make flossing fun by purchasing colorful flossers or slide-on finger flossers. Offering rewards for consistent flossing and leading by example by flossing together can also motivate your child.

Q3: What foods should be completely avoided with braces?

While many foods require caution, some are best avoided entirely to prevent damage to braces. These "forbidden foods" can include hard items like nuts, seeds, beef jerky, popcorn kernels, hard pretzels, ice, and crunchy nachos, as they can fracture brackets. Sticky foods like gum, caramel, Skittles, and fruit snacks should also be skipped to prevent pulling on wires. Extremely hard or crunchy items like jawbreakers, peppermints, almonds, and raw carrots are on the list of foods to avoid. It's essential to read and follow all dietary guidelines provided by your orthodontist to maintain your braces effectively.

Trust Orthodontics of Santa Barbara for Your Back-to-School Needs

Don't let the busy school days compromise the success of your braces treatment. Stay vigilant with your cleaning routines, make wise food choices, and attend your adjustment appointments as scheduled. If you encounter any issues, don't hesitate to reach out to Orthodontics of Santa Barbara for assistance. By taking these simple precautions, you can stay on track with your treatment and achieve the healthy, beautiful smile you've been working towards!


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