Back to School Braces Survival Guide

Did you know that summer is one of the most popular times of the year for kids to begin orthodontic treatment? The break in between school years is the perfect time to have braces put on so that patients can get used to them from the comfort of home. If you have a child that’s had braces put on in the last few months, you may be wondering what the next few months will bring for them (and you!) as they head back into those old familiar hallways with a brand new orthodontic appliance. You may both be feeling a little nervous about how they’ll do navigating braces at school for the very first time. Although it’s not uncommon to worry, the good news is, it doesn’t take long to get used to life with braces. They’ll be just one more part of your child’s daily routine in no time!

Here at Rhoads Orthodontics, we remember how exciting the beginning of a new school year can be. Catching up with friends you missed over the summer, checking out your schedule, picking out a new backpack and clothes – wearing braces at school is just one more new memory to make! We want to help make this one of the best years yet for your child by giving them the confidence they need to survive back-to-school season with their smile – and braces! – intact. Keep reading below for a few of our best tips!

Stay prepared

Keep a basic braces care kit in your backpack or locker.

There’s no getting around the fact that treatment with braces does require a little extra time, care, and commitment. It’s not unusual for minor issues to pop up from time to time during the school day, like food getting stuck in brackets or a stray wire poking into the cheek. Your child can stay prepared for any temporary dilemma by keeping a basic braces care kit in their backpack or locker. Some of the helpful items we recommend our patients include in this are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, for brushing after lunch
  • floss or prophy brush, to get rid of any stubborn food debris
  • orthodontic wax, to cover any areas causing irritation
  • extra rubber bands, as these should be changed out frequently throughout the day
  • lip balm, to soothe lips that may be dry due to braces or a recent adjustment
  • a small cup for rinsing
  • an unsharpened pencil, as the eraser end can be used to push any stray wires back into place

Keeping simple items like these on hand in a pinch will save your child a lot of time, trouble, and discomfort throughout the orthodontic process!

Dr. Rhoads with a patient

Stay smart

Whether your child is at home, at school, or somewhere in between, the same rules for braces care apply. That holds true for food restrictions as well. In order to protect braces and keep orthodontic treatment on track, braces patients should avoid anything too hard, sticky, or crunchy. If your child prefers buying lunch at school, check out the menu ahead of time and make sure there are plenty of braces-friendly options available, like mac and cheese, soups, cooked vegetables, and lean meats. If the school offers limited choices, consider a packed lunch instead. Pasta and other soft foods fit easily into a Thermos, and healthy snacks like bananas, applesauce, and yogurt are gentle on braces and good for growing kids!

What your child drinks is almost as important as what they eat. Drinking water is excellent for the overall health of each one of us, and there’s a reason we’re all encouraged to drink eight glasses a day! But did you know that it’s also a really great way to flush out any food that’s stuck to the teeth or braces? As an added benefit, water is extremely helpful when you are experiencing the dry mouth feeling that can sometimes come with newer braces or adjustments. Send a full water bottle to school with your child in the morning and encourage them to drink it throughout the day to experience all the best benefits. We recommend sticking to plain water over sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, or sports drinks, as these can cause staining and also increase the risk of your child developing cavities. If you do allow your child to indulge in these sweet drinks from time to time, have them use a straw to keep the sugars as far away from their teeth as possible.

Stay safe

If your child is in braces and regularly participates in sports, or has a gym or P.E. class, we strongly recommend investing in an orthodontic mouthguard to protect both their braces and their mouth. These mouthguards have been designed specifically for use with braces, and they are the easiest way to save your child’s braces from damage and their mouth from injury during physical activities. Both orthodontic and non-orthodontic models are widely available at most sporting goods stores. Dr. Rhoads is also more than happy to recommend and order one for your child based on their specific needs and hobbies, if you would prefer to go through our office!


Dr. Rhoads with a patient

Send your child back to school with a beautiful smile from Rhoads Orthodontics

It’s only natural to feel nervous about sending your child back to school with braces for the first time. Like any new adventure, it will come with its own set of challenges and a bit of an adjustment period. But with our tips, your support, and a little patience, your child will find their way to an A+ smile before you know it! Dr. Rhoads and the rest of our team are dedicated to helping your child make the transition from summer vacation to another school year as pleasant and stress-free as possible. If either of you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Cranberry Township office. We’ll do everything we can to help put your minds at ease and get your child off to a confident start!