We still have about a month before summer officially ends, but it’s already that time again: early mornings, brand new backpacks, and school supply lists that seem to get longer every year. Getting back into the swing of a new school year can be exciting for kids (and parents, too!) It’s fun to catch up with friends, meet new teachers, and explore interesting subjects. For children or teens who have recently had braces put on, however, the anticipation can be overshadowed by stress and anxiety. Your child’s orthodontic journey comes with quite a few changes, from their appearance to their daily routine, and what seemed like small potatoes at home this summer can start to look a little more daunting in the light of going back to school, especially in the first few days and weeks.

At Langford Orthodontics, we know your student has enough on their plate without having to worry about braces. Our team wants to help make the transition from summer to school as smoothly and stress-free as possible, so we’ve put together this Back to School Braces Survival Guide for our braces patients gearing up for a new school year. Keep reading below to learn more about keeping a smile on your child’s face from the first day of school to the last!

Have Braces-Friendly Food

Any type of orthodontic treatment comes with its own set of challenges, but the food restrictions that accompany braces can be a big learning curve. While they may be easy enough to manage at home where you have control over what’s on the menu, school can make this more difficult as your child tries to find a new normal when it comes to lunches and snacks. In order to protect the brackets, wires, and bands, patients must avoid anything too crunchy, sticky, or chewy. If your child usually buys school lunches or has access to vending machines for snacks, they may find themselves seriously tempted to indulge in some of their forbidden favorites!

Dr. Langford high five

To keep their orthodontic treatment progressing on track, make it a habit to check the school’s lunch menu in advance every week. Look for braces-friendly options like mashed potatoes, spaghetti, lean meats, and cooked vegetables to make sure there’s something safe for them to eat. If the school offers limited choices, you may consider switching to packed lunches. If your child is partial to sandwiches, cut them into smaller bites the night before to make eating and chewing easier. If they enjoy a more varied diet, invest in a sturdy Thermos and include pasta, soups, and other soft options that are gentle on braces. Healthy snacks like yogurt and applesauce are also great additions and will help keep your child feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

Don’t forget the H2O

Staying hydrated is important for your child’s health for any number of reasons, but did you know that drinking water is great at keeping any rogue food particles from sticking to their teeth and braces? Encourage your child to carry a full water bottle to school in the morning and drink it throughout the day for the best results. We also recommend sticking to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, as these can stain the teeth and increase the risk of cavities. If they do indulge in soft drinks from time to time, have them use a straw in order to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible. 

Make a Basic Braces Kit

While we’re discussing lunches and the possibility of sugary drinks at school, we recommend that every student in braces keep a basic care kit close by. This is especially useful for kids who are new to orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, the brackets, wires, and bands have a tendency to trap food particles, so we encourage patients to brush after lunch, and add a quick floss if needed (and if they have time.) Some of the items you may want to consider are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • orthodontic wax
  • lip balm
  • an unsharpened pencil

From time to time, braces can cause mild irritation to the lips, gums, and cheeks. Placing a pea-sized amount over the offending area is a great way to get some relief. The eraser end of a pencil can be utilized to nudge wires back into place should they stray, and chapstick is a must-have for lips that are dry and irritated. Having just a few common items packed away in their backpack or locker will keep your child prepared for any braces-related dilemma that might pop up during the day!

Dr. Langford with a patient

Start school with a confident smile thanks to Langford Orthodontics

It’s totally normal for kids to feel nervous about going back to school for the first time with braces. It’s an entirely new experience and it’s not unusual to have some fear of the unknown. The good news is that it won’t take long for life with braces to become the new normal for your child! It may take a little time, but with patience and encouragement, your child will soon have a successful routine that leaves them smiling!

Dr. Langford and the rest of our talented team are dedicated to providing each of our patients with top-quality orthodontic care. We want your child’s orthodontic experience to be a rewarding experience, and work hard to make every family we serve feel welcomed and valued from the first appointment. It’s our goal to have every student in braces begin school confident in their smile and their orthodontic treatment, so if you or your child have any questions or concerns, please let us know and we will be happy to set your mind at ease. We wish all the students and teachers we know a wonderful start to the school year and we look forward to seeing your child’s smile on the honor roll in the months to come!

- Dr. Langford

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