Did your child receive braces this summer? If so, they will need to prepare themselves for the new school year by learning how to keep their teeth healthy while getting them straightened. The goal is to have a healthy, beautiful smile when their oral hardware comes off. Since they will be spending a good chunk of their time away from home during the week, they should have the tools they need to keep their smiles safe at school. Even if your child isn’t spending their time in a school this year, a toolkit is essential to have on hand.
The first thing we recommend is making sure they have a basic braces care kit that they can keep with them or in their locker. Consider equipping them with the following tools to help them be prepared to maintain their oral health while away from home:
School lunches (or even just grabbing a quick snack between classes) can leave oral debris around the braces hardware as brackets and wires tend to trap food particles easily. Along with carrying their braces toolkit in their backpack, they should also be aware of food restrictions while at school. Teach them which items are on the braces-friendly list as well as ones that are not – specifically hard, crunchy or chewy foods. One thing you can do to help them is to keep track of their weekly school lunch menu or simply provide them with homemade lunches in their backpacks. If your child likes to raid the in-school vending machines, let them know which foods are off-limits (such as hard or sticky candy, pretzels and chips).
Another essential is having them take a water bottle to school every morning. Water helps them keep their saliva levels at optimal levels, preventing dry mouth and neutralizing acids from foods. Water can also help rinse away oral debris between brushing and flossing at school.
Make sure your child knows to avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, chocolate milk and even Gatorade! These sweetened drinks can trap and feed oral bacteria around brackets and wires, setting the stage for cavities and stains on tooth enamel. If you think your child will sometimes indulge in sweetened beverages while at school, tell them to use a straw (or tuck some in their backpack) to keep the liquid sugar from pooling on their teeth.
As your child adjusts to wearing their new braces, they will feel more confident and willing to smile, knowing one day their smile flaws will be corrected as the braces come off. There are also plenty of other students wearing braces, so they will see that they are not alone. With school pictures coming up around the corner, your child can smile with pride!