Summer is coming to a close, and most families have started a new school year. Beginning school with braces is another piece of the puzzle, and for parents -- and kids alike -- the need to take care of a new set of wires can seem daunting.
It's even more confusing to know how to take the best care of your child's braces when they might be wearing a mask in the classroom due to COVID-19 restrictions and requirements. We understand and want to provide you with a survival guide for parents sending their kiddos back to school with braces and masks. The good news is that the mask mandates may provide some welcome cover for many kids in middle school or high school as they get used to wearing their new braces. But, that said, there are still some important rules to follow with your child's newly braced mouth to ensure the best care and most comfort.
Keep a Mouthguard with You
Orthopedic mouthguards are specifically designed to be worn during physical activity to protect gums and teeth. Regardless of whether your child is wearing a mask, they will want to have a well-fitting mouthguard on hand for physical education or other rigorous activities at school.
When braces are present, we suggest choosing a generic or non-custom mouthguard. This choice can protect your child's teeth while still allowing the desired tooth movement we are seeking to achieve for your child. Some companies even make "braces specific" mouthguards for use while active orthodontic treatment is being provided.
Keep your Braces Kit Handy
Making sure to have a few useful items on hand in your child's locker or backpack can help significantly during their school day. When our patients begin treatment, we provide several essential items to help get them through the transitional period into braces. Consider keeping these items handy, and it may even be wise to pack your "Struble Kit" with your child for the first few weeks of school. We suggest including the following items, which the Struble kit incorporates:
- Struble Orthodontics water bottle
- Soft toothbrush
- Christmas Tree flossers (To remove unwanted or irritating food.)
- Lip balm (To soothe cut lips.)
- Orthodontic flossers (For hard-to-reach places.)
Our team is conscientious about checking in to see if you need to restock on any of these helpful supplies throughout treatment. But if you find that you need any particular supplies, please let one of our wonderful team members know at your next appointment!
Obtain a Handheld Water Bottle
Drinking beverages such as juice or soda can cause unwanted stains behind the brackets on braced teeth. Our Struble Orthodontics water bottle is easy to carry and perfect for this purpose. Besides, who doesn't want to stay hydrated on these back-to-school scorcher days? Encourage your child to keep a water bottle close by at all times for healthy hydration and to avoid being tempted to drink something sugary.
Provide a Mirror
Even with the protection of possibly wearing a face mask in the classroom, your child may have moments -- especially outdoors -- where their face is exposed. Including a handheld mirror in their backpack, braces kit, or locker can give your child a little added comfort in the knowledge that they can check their teeth and braces for the undesired without having to run to the bathroom.
Use a Cone-Shaped or Stiff Mask
Nothing is more uncomfortable with new or recently tightened braces than having your wires and brackets rub against your gums and lips. A close-fitting mask can make this much worse. There are several quality masks out now for youth and kids. Be sure the one you choose provides ample breathing room for your child's mouth. This way, you can save yourself the worry about the fabric rubbing their lips while talking and moving around. Finally, be sure that your mask of choice provides good filtration and protection for your child as they head back into the classroom.
Ultimately, going back to school with braces doesn't need to be scary or uncomfortable. And taking these steps can make it that much easier for you and your child. We hope you have an enjoyable school year.
Please reach out to our office any time if you have additional questions about starting the school year with braces.