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It’s the most wonderful time of the year? Back to school for kids and teenagers…

We find that being back in school poses some challenges for our patients in braces and Invisalign Teen such as the following…

  1. Difficulty brushing your teeth and braces after lunch
  2. Losing retainers and Invisalign Teen aligners at school
  3.  Need for an athletic mouth guard for sports that will fit over your braces
  4.  Orthodontic emergencies and after-school appointments

#1 Practicing Good Oral Hygiene At School

          During the summer, kids and teenager have more time to brush and clean their teeth after meals.  However, when school starts back up, it becomes more difficult because of their busy schedule.  They may be rushed in the morning getting to the school bus and breakfast may be on the go with no time to brush after eating.  After eating lunch at school, students may not get a chance to clean their teeth before the next class starts.  They also may not have all the tools they need (brush, floss, rinse) to thoroughly take care of their braces.  Many children and teens also have after school activities and don’t get home until later in the evening.  This means that some patients may go from breakfast to dinner without brushing their braces and teeth!!! Oh the horror!

Fortunately, there a few tips and tricks that can help:

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          a) You can pack a travel oral hygiene kit including a tooth brush, an interproximal brush, floss or floss pick, mouth rinse, and orthodontic wax.

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b) You can rinse/swish with water when in a time crunch.  Although not nearly as good as brushing, rinsing with water will at least help get out major debris and wash off acid sitting on the teeth.

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c) You can also chew sugarless gum like Orbitz or Trident.  Did you know sugarless gum helps remove plaque from the teeth? It also contains Xylitol which helps neutralize acid in your mouth.  If you can’t brush or rinse right away, chewing on sugarless gum is better than nothing!

#2 Losing Your Retainers or Invisalign Teen Aligners at School Image result for dumpster diving

The thought of our patients’ losing their retainers or Invisalign Aligners at school keeps us up at night!  All too often we hear the excuse “the lunch lady ate my retainer”.  The number one way kids lose their retainers or Invisalign Teen aligners is from wrapping them up in a napkin and placing them on their lunch tray.  Inevitably, they get thrown away with the leftover lunch!  Happens every time.  Here at Papasikos Orthodontics in Montclair, NJ, we like to say “If it’s out of your mouth, it’s in the case.” Any time a retainer or Invisalign Teen aligner is taken out of the mouth, it must be put right into the retainer case to prevent it from getting lost.

#3 The Need For An Athletic Mouthguard For SportsImage result for mouth guard

Back to school also means back to sports.  One of the most important pieces of equipment is an athletic sports mouthguard to protect your teeth and also your brain from concussions.  A custom fit mouth guard is superior over a one-size fits all, over-the-counter mouthguard for the following reasons:

a) It will fit better, be more comfortable, and easier to wear.  The doctors can make a mouth guard to fit over braces without breaking/damaging them.

b) It offers greater protection, because it is made to fit precisely to your teeth and mouth.

c) It is cooler, because it can be customized with your team colors, name, and jersey number.

We offer custom made sports mouthguards to our patients in our Montclair, NJ orthodontic office.  In most cases, a custom mouthguard can be made in only a few weeks.

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#4 Orthodontic Emergencies and After-school Appointments

Luckily, there are very few true orthodontic emergencies.  A true emergency is characterized by severe pain/swelling and would need to be addressed as soon as possible by your orthodontist.  Problems like a loose brace or pokey wire can be resolved temporarily at home and can wait to be addressed at a convenient time.   See our website for a full list tips/tricks to address these issues.

A loose brace may feel like something is sliding back and forth along the wire.  Until it gets repaired by your orthodontist, the easiest thing to do is to place some orthodontic wax over it and schedule an appointment for repair.  The wax sticks best if you dry the area off first.

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A pokey wire can be irritating!  It will take some time for your cheeks to get used to the feeling of the braces and wires.  Eventually, your cheeks will form a tougher skin that won’t be bothered by your braces.  Until then, just place some orthodontic wax over the pokey area to provide a cushion until your cheek heals and toughens up.   In addition, you can use an eraser tip to try to push the wire back toward the tooth.  As a last resort, if the wax is not helping, you can use a nail clipper to snip the pokey wire until you can get in to see the orthodontist.

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After-school appointments are normally in high demand.  Make sure you start your braces or Invisalign treatment at an orthodontic office with accommodating hours.  Here at Papasikos Orthodontics Montclair, NJ, we pride ourselves on our flexible schedule, offering hours in the morning, evening and even on the weekend to fit into your family’s busy schedule.

Don’t forget, you can always reach us at (973) 744-2511 and at in Montclair, NJ.  In cases of a true emergency, Dr. Papasikos can be reached on the emergency number listed on our answering machine.

Happy Smiling!

Drs. Jacy and Arianna Papasikos