While there may not be a chill in the air here in Overland Park just yet, autumn is definitely on the way, and that means it’s time to head back to school! It also means that many teenagers with new braces are coping with some of the challenges that come along with maintaining clean teeth and clean braces during school or at after-school activities. After all, appearances are important, especially in junior high and high school, and braces need special care in order to keep both them and your smile looking (and functioning) great!
Even with braces, the best way to keep your smile healthy is to brush and floss regularly (and, of course, make regular visits to your Overland Park dentist!). It can be difficult to brush after every meal or snack, especially when you’re at school, but it might be worth the extra trouble. Stick a toothbrush in your purse or backpack, or pick up an ultra-compact toothbrush from the travel section of your local store or on Amazon.com.
If you really want to go the extra mile, grab a few disposable flossers and bring those along, too. Even if you can’t brush your teeth after lunch, at least swish some water around in your mouth in order to clear out as much food debris as possible. It’ll help you avoid getting gross stuff stuck in your braces in the short term, and improve the health of your teeth down the road.
Plus, if you’re used to chewing sugarless gum after you eat to help clean your teeth and freshen your breath, you’re going to need a new approach. Unfortunately, chewing gum and braces just don’t mix.
There are also some foods that you shouldn’t eat with braces due to the “sticky,” “hard,” or “stringy” factor. You’ll figure out pretty quickly which foods don’t work for you, but here are a few foods to definitely scratch off the list: hard candy, popcorn, pizza crusts and bagels (too chewy), nuts and seeds, ice, beef jerky, and taffy. These foods can damage braces, either because they’re too chewy or too hard. The result can be a bent wire or a snapped-off bracket, and that not only means a lot of discomfort for you, but also yet another visit to the orthodontist to get the problem fixed.
This means that it’s often a good idea to pack your own lunch, rather than just rolling the dice on whatever they might be dishing out at the cafeteria. (A packed lunch could be healthier, too…)
While your Overland Park dentist at Watts Family Dental may not be an orthodontist, we’re always here and happy to provide brushing and other tooth care advice for whatever your oral health needs may be, including braces! Just give us a call at (913) 338-3384 with any questions or to schedule an appointment today!