If your pre-teen just got braces or other orthodontics within the past year, then you may be worried that they won't stick to their "do not eat" list and will end up breaking wires and brackets on Christmas or Christmas Eve when their orthodontist may not be in the office. While giving them a list of foods not to eat is simple, ensuring that they stick to the rules can be anything but easy. Here are some tips to help your pre-teen keep those brackets and wires in place where they belong this Christmas and what to do if they sneak a forbidden treat and do end up with a braces emergency.
1. Keep Your Home Filled with Tasty Braces-safe Foods
While you likely have little to no control over what foods are served at any holiday parties your family may be attending, you can control what foods are inside your home. If you have other children who love foods that your pre-teen with braces cannot eat, then you may face some sad faces when keeping candy canes off the tree and bowls of nut-filled candy off your tables. However, if you replace them with braces-safe treats that they love just as much, they are less likely to even notice that some of their other favorites are missing.
Keep hard candy canes out of the house completely and fill those candy bowls with small chocolate bars and peanut-butter filled chocolate cups. Most types of small chocolate candies are fine, as long as you stay away from hard candies and those filled with nuts and super-sticky caramel.
When filling stockings on Christmas Eve, don't fill your other children's with no-no foods for your little braces-wearer, while filling the stocking of your pre-teen who wears braces with different items. That can lead to your child with braces not only feeling resentment, but also later swapping candies with siblings and then sneaking the items they are not allowed to eat. Instead, just remember that if it cannot be eaten when wearing braces, it shouldn't go in any child's stocking.
2. Have a Kit Handy for Emergencies and Know How to Use It
If you gather with family and friends at a holiday party or two, then your pre-teen will likely face a lot of temptation to eat items that are not braces-safe. Even if your child tells you they will avoid eating these foods, their cravings may get the best of them, and they could end up eating something they shouldn't that ends up breaking a wire loose or snapping a bracket off a tooth. So, keep a braces emergency kit with you at all times (your purse or vehicle are both good places to stash it) so you can treat emergencies where they happen and your family won't have to rush home to grab the kit.
Your emergency kit should include:
- Braces wax. This is extremely important, as it can be used to cover any sharp, broken metal.
- Small pair of wire cutters. Use ones made specially for braces and not the kind you purchase at the hardware store.
- Plastic wire pusher. This can help you push bent wires back into position.
- Small dental mirror.
Small extras that can be very helpful include tweezers, cotton swabs, and a mouth-numbing gel (you can find this in the oral-care aisle labeled for use on toothaches or canker sores).
To fix a wire that has snapped loose and has a sharp end, first cut off any loose section of wire with the clippers. Then, cover the end of the wire that you clipped with a small ball of dental wax to keep it from poking the inside of your child's mouth.
If an elastic that surrounds a bracket comes out of place, first try to put it back into place using tweezers or the plastic pusher. If it breaks, then you can cut it free and remove it temporarily.
If a bracket breaks loose from a tooth, then either stick it back into place with the dental wax temporarily or remove it entirely and try to hang onto it, if you can.
There is a great free app you can download on your smartphone that you can use to help jog your memory on how to temporarily repair damaged braces or learn how to tackle more complicated repairs.
You and your pre-teen can get through Christmas without calling your orthodontist for an emergency repair if you help them avoid temptation at home and are ready for accidents to occur when away from home. Remember that any repair you make is only temporary, and as soon as your orthodontist is back in the office, you must make an appointment to bring your child in for a more permanent fix.