Summer Survival Guide: Braces

It feels like it took forever to get here, but summer is finally upon us, and we’re ready to swim, sleep in, and lay around in the sun being lazy. A few of us also have plans to do some traveling! Since many families set off on adventures all over the country this time of year, we wanted to remind you how important it is to keep up with caring for your braces, wherever you are. This will ensure your treatment isn’t interrupted, even if your regular routine is! 

To get you through the next month or two with your braces and your treatment schedule intact, all you need is a little thinking ahead and a few helpful recommendations from the team here at Kottemann Orthodontics. You can have plenty of fun in the sun without losing sight of your orthodontic goals! Keep reading below for a few of our favorite hints and tips on how to best care for your braces while you’re taking advantage of everything the summer has to offer.  

Prepare an orthodontic travel kit 

Whether you’re jet-setting somewhere far away or keeping it closer to home, you’ll benefit from keeping a small bag of basics with you to help care for your braces. When packing it, you’ll want to include obvious items like fluoride toothpaste, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss or a waterpik, but other items may be helpful as well. We recommend:

  • Orthodontic wax or Gishy Goo, a silicone-based product that’s similar to orthodontic wax
  • An over-the-counter pain reliever, just in case you experience any swelling or soreness (but be sure to check with our doctors first!)
  • An unsharpened pencil or two, so you can use the eraser on any protruding wires (more about that below.)

Once you’ve placed all these items in a small, secure bag, throw it in your backpack, purse, or suitcase so you’ll be able to access it easily whenever you need it. 

Dr. smiling with a patient

DIY care when you’re on the go 

It’s not uncommon to occasionally have a problem crop up with your braces while you’re out and about. This can be a bit of an inconvenience, but many of these minor issues are easy to fix with a little know-how and a few common items you probably have laying around the house. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following this summer, try these simple solutions to sort them out. 

General mouth irritation

Non-specific irritation in your cheeks, lips, or gums over the course of your treatment isn’t unexpected. Fortunately, orthodontic wax is an easy way to take care of this! Make sure the bracket or wire is completely dry, then pinch off a small amount of wax and roll it into a ball. Flatten this ball before placing it over the source of irritation to provide relief.

Protruding wires

Occasionally, wires can come loose and irritate the inside of your mouth. This can be fixed with nothing more than an ordinary pencil by using the eraser end to nudge it back against the teeth until it flattens out. You can also place a piece of orthodontic wax over the wire to reduce irritation and provide some extra stability.

Loose bracket

You need to let us know about any loose brackets as soon as possible, so we can help you decide what the next step should be. In the meantime, however, try sliding the bracket back along the wire to the center of the tooth and placing orthodontic wax over it to add stability.

Dr. showing patient their teeth in a mirror

But just in case it’s something you can’t handle, keep our contact details close by

As a braces patient, there are plenty of orthodontic issues you can handle on your own! However, you may sometimes have a problem that needs immediate attention. Before you head out on vacation, make sure you have all of our contact information in your phone or written down somewhere, including phone numbers and our email address. If you run into an unexpected orthodontic emergency, give us a call and we’ll walk you through what needs to happen next. 

For most problems, it will be safe for you to wait until you’re back home to follow up with us in the office, but if you’re out of town and need to be seen right away, we’ll help you find a qualified orthodontist nearby. 

If you’re able to, try to take a clear photograph of what’s happening with your mouth, then text or email it to us before you call. This gives us a better chance of assessing what’s happening more quickly and accurately, so we can get you back to having fun as quickly as possible!

Stick to treats that are safe for your braces

Summer is full of backyard BBQs, pool parties, and sleepovers with friends, all of which come with a variety of tempting treats. Although the food restrictions that come with braces can be frustrating at times like these, making good choices now will be more than worth it when your treatment is complete and we reveal your beautiful new smile! 

To protect your braces and your smile, avoid anything that’s too crunchy or chewy this summer, such as ribs, corn on the cob, popcorn, plus any sticky candy, cake, or cookies. We know this may seem like a lengthy list of things to miss out on, but there are still plenty of delicious classics you can safely indulge in while wearing braces, like coleslaw, potato salad, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, and ice cream, of course!

Maintain your dental hygiene routine

It’s easy to get a little lazy in the summer and let some of your regular routines slide. But when it comes to your braces, it’s important that you maintain your oral hygiene. We recommend that all our braces patients brush twice a day for at least two minutes each time, floss every night before bed, and use a waterpik regularly if you have one. Keeping your cleaning and care routine on track will keep your treatment progressing as scheduled, too!

Have a safe and happy summer from Kottemann Orthodontics

Whatever exciting adventures you and your family have planned for this summer, it will be easy to keep your braces protected by following the tips we’ve outlined above. Remember that you can also count on our expert team for support if you ever have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan. We’re here to help you achieve a healthy smile this summer – and throughout the rest of the year, too!