Back to School With Braces

It seems impossible that summer is already slipping away from us, particularly when it’s still so hot most days. Even if we wish it weren’t so, though, it’s definitely that time of year again! Early morning alarms, brand new backpacks, and just the tiniest hint of fall in the air. The start of the school year is exciting, and most kids look forward to meeting their teachers, catching up with their friends, and learning lots of new things. But for students who have recently gotten braces, heading back to school can be more stressful than it might otherwise be. There are changes that come with braces , and while seeing a different smile in the mirror or learning a new daily routine might seem like small potatoes at home, dealing with them at school can be a little overwhelming!

At Clauss Orthodontics, it’s important to us that we create an enjoyable orthodontic experience for all of our patients. If you have a child in braces who is getting ready to go back to school, we want to help you make it a smooth and stress-free transition. Once you’ve checked off every item on the supply list, check out the tips we’ve put together below to keep your child’s smile on the straight-A honor roll!

Braces care on the go

It’s not uncommon for kids in braces to experience some minor orthodontic “issues” from time to time. Fortunately, many of them are easy fixes with just a few tools most of us have lying around the house. Below are a few of the most frequent issues patients encounter with braces, and what your child can do to correct them if they occur at school. 

Mouth irritation: If a bracket or wire has come loose and is causing irritation or discomfort to your child’s lips or cheeks, orthodontic wax may offer some relief. After making sure the bracket or wire is dry, a pea-sized piece of wax can be rolled into a ball, flattened, and placed over the area of braces causing irritation. You might want to practice with your child at home first until they get the hang of it.

Protruding wires: If a loose wire is irritating the inside of your child’s mouth, their pencil case can come in handy for more than homework! The eraser end of a #2 pencil can be used to gently nudge the wire back into place until it’s flat against the teeth until their next appointment. A piece of wax over the wire can also help prevent irritation and add some stability. 

Loose bracket: If a bracket breaks or comes loose, we need to know! We will be able to determine the next steps that should be taken for the situation. In the meantime, wax can be placed over the bracket to provide some stability, or the bracket can be slid back along the wire to the center of the tooth.

Dr. Clauss staff member with a patient

Braces kit

We encourage every student in braces to keep a simple care kit with them at school, but this is especially helpful for patients who are relatively new to orthodontic treatment. Having just a few basic items packed away in their backpack or locker can keep them ready for any braces-related dilemmas. Some of the items we suggest having onhand are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • dental wax
  • lip balm

Why these particular items? Brackets and wires have a tendency to hang onto food particles so it’s ideal for students to brush and floss after lunch. Because brackets, wires, and bands can cause mild irritation to the lips, gums, and cheeks from time to time, a small amount of dental wax placed on the offending area can reduce irritation until the problem can be fixed, as described above. And chapstick can be a big help for lips that are dry and irritated due to braces – make sure you grab a couple at your regular appointments!

Pack snacks and lunches that are braces-friendly

Food restrictions are hard enough to get used to at home, and going back to school can really compound that learning curve! Students in braces need to avoid anything that’s too crunchy, sticky, or chewy to protect the brackets and wires. This isn’t so bad if you have control of your own kitchen, but if your child buys their lunches or has access to vending machines for snacks during the day, it can be tough to follow the rules without giving in to temptation. Check the school’s lunch menu every week to make sure something your child can eat is being offered, like soft vegetables, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and leaner cuts of meat.

If you find the school’s choices are too limited, packing a lunch can make things easier since you’ll have control over the process. To keep things simple, cut sandwiches into bite-sized pieces the night before to save time and make your child’s post-lunch oral hygiene routine easier. Including foods that are easy on their teeth like yogurt and applesauce also helps to keep them feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

Dr. Clauss staff members with patients

Start the school year off with a smile with Clauss Orthodontics

While it’s completely normal for your child to feel a little nervous about going back to school with braces, you can help make it an adventure with some encouragement, patience, and our helpful tips! The journey to a straighter smile and healthier mouth takes time, and our team does all we can to make it a pleasant and exciting experience instead of a chore. We want this school year to be a success for all the students we treat! If you or your child have any questions or concerns, get in touch with us and we’ll help you keep the treatment process rolling along smoothly.

Clauss Orthodontics is open early on Tuesdays and on select Saturdays September through May, so if something pops up and your child needs to be seen, we’ll get you in as soon as possible with as little disruption to your schedule as possible. We wish all our student patients a happy start to the new school year, with kind teachers, fun with friends, and a light homework load!