Braces At Camp

The Care And Feeding Of Braces At Summer Camp

It doesn't matter whether it happens during your first year at summer camp or your fifth year--if it's the first time for your braces, you may want to speak to your orthodontist about special instructions to follow while away at camp.

Dr. Angelo Ninnivaggi, a New Jersey-based orthodontist, says that there is generally no reason why braces should prevent someone from going away to summer camp. "As long as everything is stable," he says, "braces should never stop a kid from going away to camp."

What does "stable" mean? According to Dr. Ninnivaggi, "Stable means that no new treatment has been started." You should be used to your braces before camp. On the other hand, Dr. Ninnivaggi doesn't recommend removing braces right before going away to camp. "A retainer takes getting used to," he says.

Fortunately, braces don't require much luggage--just pack additional toothbrushes. The important thing is to maintain clean teeth while you are away. Dr. Ninnivaggi also suggests that you pack some wax in case you break a wire. If this happens, tell your counselor so the camp can arrange for you to see a local orthodontist who can clip a wire or re-cement a bracket. The main thing is for you to be comfortable until you resume your regular schedule with your family orthodontist.

As far as food goes, the same rules apply both at camp and home: avoid sticky, chewy, hard food. And the single most important advice Dr. Ninnivaggi has? "Have fun!"