Back-to-school braces basics

As summer comes to a close, students across the country are preparing for the upcoming school year. For those who wear braces, this transition can bring some unique challenges. Caring for braces requires a little extra effort, but by following a few of our school-specific tips, you can maintain a healthy smile and have a happier school year.

Brush after meals

One of the best ways to maintain good oral hygiene with braces is to brush your teeth after every meal—including school lunch! Food particles can get trapped in the brackets and wires, which leads to plaque buildup (and potentially tooth decay). Keep a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste in your backpack or locker and make it a habit to brush your teeth after eating.

Avoid sticky or chewy foods

While it may be tempting to indulge in sticky or chewy snacks at school, it’s best to avoid them when you have braces. These types of foods can easily get stuck in your braces, making them harder to clean and increasing the risk of damage to the wires or brackets. Opt for braces-friendly options like soft fruits, yogurt, or cheese instead. If you can’t resist the occasional sticky treat, be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly afterward.

Keep a braces care kit

A braces care kit can be your best friend, especially when you’re at school! If you experience any poking or pain, it’s helpful to have the tools you need on hand, whether you’re in class, at recess, or enjoying lunch. The kit should include essentials such as orthodontic wax, floss, and a small mirror. Wax is helpful when wires or brackets cause discomfort or irritate your gums, and floss is crucial for removing plaque and food particles from hard-to-reach places. Keep your care kit with your travel toothbrush and toothpaste so that you have easy access when you need it.

Protect your braces

For students involved in sports or other physical activities, protecting your braces is essential. Wearing a mouthguard can help safeguard your braces and reduce the risk of oral injuries. Talk to your orthodontist about getting a custom-fitted mouthguard that accommodates your braces. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to wear your mouthguard when engaging in any high-contact or potentially dangerous activities.

Attend regular orthodontist appointments

School schedules can be busy, but it’s still important to prioritize your orthodontic appointments! Regular checkups with your orthodontist allow them to monitor your progress, make necessary adjustments, and ensure that your braces are working effectively. Missing appointments can prolong your treatment duration or lead to unforeseen complications, so do your best to stay on top of them. Try to schedule appointments during non-class hours or on days when you have fewer commitments to minimize disruptions to your school routine.

Back-to-school braces tips based on your extracurricular activity!

Here are some tips for taking care of your smile during various types of extracurricular activities, from sports and dance to music and theatre.

Braces tips for young athletes:

If your after-school schedule is packed with practice, rehearsals, and games, there are some essential ways to take care of your mouth and braces. After all, orthodontic treatment doesn’t have to mean putting your athletic aspirations on the sidelines. To keep your teeth and braces safe, make sure to:

  • Wear a mouthguard. Whether you’re at risk for a contact-based injury (i.e., football), a ball to the face, or a fall (i.e., dance/gymnastics), this safety measure is incredibly important for kids with braces. One accident can throw off the entire treatment process by weeks or months, which can be expensive, painful, and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are plenty of mouthguards that fit comfortably over braces and provide protection for your teeth, lips, and gums.
  • Avoid sugary sports drinks and snacks. Sports drinks and energy bars are a great source of energy, but often contain lots of sugar. Because it’s harder to keep your teeth clean when you have braces, it’s easier for sugar to build up on the teeth and cause cavities. Therefore, we recommend opting for sugar-free sports drinks and snacks, like fruit with smooth nut butter or yogurt tubes for energy.
  • Stay hydrated. Because exercise can dry up your mouth, it is easier for bacteria to build up on and between your teeth. Staying hydrated is not only good for your body, but for your smile, too.

Braces tips for the musicians:

For those who play brass and wind instruments, transitioning back to regular playing may be slightly uncomfortable after getting braces. However, it will simply take some practice to adjust to the feeling of playing with braces, and you should be back to your normal rehearsal and performance schedule in no time. To make the transition as comfortable as possible, consider:

  • Practicing in intervals. If possible, instead of practicing for an extended period of time, start off by practicing in 10- or 15-minute intervals, and take breaks to sip some ice water in between. This can help you adjust to the sensation of playing with braces while preventing irritation.
  • Adjust your embouchure. Because there is an entirely new element to the way your teeth sit, you may have to make some adjustments—and that’s totally okay.
  • Have ice water at the ready. In case you experience any discomfort while you play, have cold water nearby to help soothe your mouth!

Braces tips for the musical theater kid:

If you’re a singer who recently started orthodontic treatment, you (like brass and woodwind musicians) may have a small adjustment period to navigate! The good news is, that having aligned teeth may actually improve your singing voice post-treatment by making airflow more efficient. Here are some ways to help the braces adjustment period for singers and musical theater kids:

  • Try your best to sing normally. While this tip may not seem very helpful, it’s actually best for your mouth and voice to try and sing as normally as possible, and let your body catch up. Braces could make whistling sounds while you sing, but this is likely temporary.
  • Drink water (yes, again). We probably sound like a broken record at this point, but this is the best way to ward off dry mouth and irritation!

Going back to school with braces doesn’t have to be daunting. By following these tips, you can ensure that your braces stay in great condition and maintain a healthy smile throughout the year. With a little extra care and attention, you’ll have a happier school year that’s free from unnecessary oral health complications!

Interested in braces? Book a free consultation in Oak LTemporary anchorage device (TAD)awn, IL, today!