Back to school time is here, and for most kids, this time of year brings a combination of excitement and nervousness. If your child just got braces over the summer, they might be feeling particularly uneasy or self-conscious about adjusting to school life. Below are some helpful tips that will help you set your child at ease when going back to school with braces.
1. Pack a braces care kit in their backpack.
A braces care kit is basically a small set of supplies that will help your child maintain clean and comfortable braces throughout the school day. A typical kit will include a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental wax, dental floss, lip balm, extra elastic bands (if your child’s braces require them), and possibly a small mirror to help them double-check for any problem areas without having to go to the restroom. The dental wax is an excellent tool for your child to have on hand for any times where a bracket or wire might be causing irritation – they can just apply some wax to the problem area to help ease the discomfort.
You can pack these items in a small plastic case or zippered pouch, and they can put it in their backpack or keep it in their locker for easy access. When your kid knows they have a “go-to” supply kit to help them keep their braces in tip-top shape (and avoid potentially embarrassing scenarios), it can help them relax a little more as they go about their school day.
2. Pack braces-friendly lunches.
There are plenty of foods that are fun for your kid to eat, but can wreak havoc on braces. Try to avoid preparing any lunches for your child that include sticky, gooey, hard, or crunchy foods, and opt instead for foods that will be easy to chew without leaving too many particles that can get stuck in their braces. For example, instead of packing a candy bar for a sweet treat, try some applesauce or yogurt. For foods like sandwiches, cut them up into bite-sized pieces to make it easier (and neater) for your child to bite into.
3. Make sure your child has a water bottle.
Staying hydrated is an important health principle for your child to follow, but even more so when they have braces. Not only will drinking water help keep their teeth and braces free from small food particles, but it’s also a great way to suppress those cravings for soft drinks, juices and other sugary beverages, many of which can stain the teeth. Keep in mind that if your child’s teeth become stained while they’re wearing their braces, it can create discoloration once the braces come off.
While your child doesn’t have to quit drinking sodas “cold turkey,” make sure they’re drinking through a straw to protect their teeth as much as possible. In addition, encourage them to follow up any sugary drinks with a good amount of water, which they can swish around in their mouth to help neutralize any acids left behind from the other drinks.
4. Make sure your child keeps a mouthguard on hand.
If your child is involved in athletics, they will definitely need a mouthguard to protect their mouth from injury. Whether it’s a stray basketball to the face or an accidental collision with a teammate, one unfortunate incident can cause significant injury to the cheeks and/or gums. Your dental professional can recommend special mouthguards that are specifically designed to fit kids who wear braces.
5. Add a healthy dose of encouragement.
Your child might feel like they’re going to be the only kid in the whole school who will be wearing braces, or at least the only one whose braces will be super-visible. While this might have been the case a couple of decades ago, a large portion of today’s school-age kids are either wearing braces or have had them before. Thanks to advances in modern dental technology, braces are smaller and much less noticeable now, and truth be told, it’s simply not as big of a deal now as it was a generation ago. So encourage your child to smile and laugh without feeling self-conscious, because they’re not the only kid on the planet who has braces!
The above tips will help you ease some of your child’s fears or hesitations about entering into the new school year with braces. May your family have a happy, fun and productive school year!