After a fantastic summer of sunny beach days, camping trips and picnics in the park, it’s officially back-to-school season. At Aura Orthodontics, we know that easing your kids back into the school year routine can be tough at the best of times, but for kids going through orthodontic treatment, it can be even more of a challenge. It’s our job as your Fraser Valley orthodontist (and your job as parents) to make sure your child or teen feels prepared for everything braces or Invisalign entails — from choosing the right foods and practicing proper oral hygiene, to handling minor braces emergencies at school. As you get back into the swing of school, here are our top tips to help you set your kids up for orthodontic success this year.
1. Do Braces-Friendly Meal Prep (And Get Your Kids Involved!)
When it comes to adjusting to life with braces, one of the biggest changes is learning which foods are safe and, more importantly, which foods to avoid. And it can be just as challenging for parents to figure out as kids! But your child is already getting used to seeing a whole new smile in the mirror, so it’s important to support them through the more confusing parts of treatment, like deciding what to eat. To make back-to-school lunches a breeze for kids with braces, plan ahead and meal prep for the upcoming week on Sundays. Better yet, have your child or teen help out so they can learn in real time what to eat with braces. Letting them take an active role in prepping their own lunches will also prepare them to make smart, braces-friendly choices on the days you allow them to eat at the cafeteria. Need some inspiration? Check out these delicious (and nutritious) school lunch ideas for kids with braces.
2. Pack a Braces (or Invisalign) Care Kit
In a perfect world, we’d all brush our teeth after every meal, but this is non-negotiable for anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment. Food can get caught in or behind braces, which can lead to cavities or damage your child’s braces. Even though youngsters with Invisalign Teen can take out their aligners while eating, the leftover food particles can stain the device. To avoid any delays to your child’s treatment, put together an orthodontic survival kit so your kiddos always have the supplies they need to take care of their braces or Invisalign. Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and flossing picks. With a ready-made pack, your kids will have no excuses not to practice proper oral hygiene at school.
3. Prepare Your Kids to Handle Braces Emergencies at School
Orthodontic emergencies are extremely uncommon and rarely serious. That said, minor issues can occur with both braces and Invisalign so it’s important to make sure your kids are prepared. With braces, the most common problems are broken brackets or sharp wires that can cause irritation to the inside of the mouth. Both of these issues can easily be solved with orthodontic wax. If your child breaks a bracket or experiences a poking wire at school, all they have to do is roll a small piece of wax into a ball and stick it over the affected area. For Invisalign, the most common emergency is a lost aligner. To prevent this from happening, remind your kids to put their aligners safely into their case for every meal. If your child does misplace an aligner at school, though, it’s no reason to panic. The best thing they can do is wait until they get home, tell you what happened and then see their orthodontist as soon as possible. Dr. Sharma or Dr. Lin will be able to recommend the best course of action: either going back to the previous set of aligners or jumping forward to the next.
4. Schedule Orthodontic Appointments in Advance
Parents, this one’s for you. Between extracurriculars, birthday parties and high school dances, your child’s schedule can fill up before you know it. Start the school year off on the right foot by planning your child’s orthodontic appointments ahead of time. That way, you won’t be scrambling to fit them in last minute. The school year is also a busy time of year for orthodontists, so getting your child or teen’s appointments on the books early will help to prevent any delays to their treatment. Call Aura Orthodontics now to book!
5. Get a Mouthguard for Any Sports or Physical Activity
Remember those orthodontic emergencies we said hardly ever happen? In the off chance that they do occur, it’s often because of sports. If your child or teen with braces plays contact sports (like football or rugby) or any sport where they might get hit in the face (like basketball or volleyball), make sure they always wear a mouthguard. Kids with Invisalign have the benefit of removable aligners, so just make sure they take them out whenever they’re in play. All of this applies during gym class, too!
6. Support Your Child or Teen’s Self-Esteem
Anyone who starts orthodontic treatment is going to experience some level of self-consciousness about their new appearance — children, teens and adults alike. If this is your kid’s first school year with braces or Invisalign, they’re going to feel especially nervous about stepping back into the classroom. They might feel embarrassed about their new smile or unsure about all the rules. They might think they’re the only one in the world going through it. But chances are, there are dozens of other kids having the exact same experience. Remind your child that they’re not alone by pointing out other kids in school with braces or Invisalign. Maybe they have a sibling who went through it and came out on the other side smiling. Keeping them focused on the end goal — their new, beautiful smile — will help them stay on track all school year long.
7. Set Some Ground Rules for Braces Care
During the summer months, you’ve been around to supervise your kids as they adjust to life with braces or Invisalign. At school, they won’t have that same level of support. But back-to-school season can be overwhelming for kids and teens as it is, without having to memorize a bunch of new rules about their teeth. Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of summer break to establish healthy routines for their orthodontic care, so they should already have a good understanding of how to brush, floss and eat for braces. But before sending them off on their own, set some positive ground rules for ortho care at school. Make sure they know the proper technique for brushing and flossing with braces or Invisalign. Give them a list of foods to avoid so they don’t indulge in any unsafe snacks. Pack health, braces-friendly lunches and their handy braces care kit. When you give your kids the education and support they need to thrive, you can feel confident that they’ll be able to take care of their own teeth responsibly.