What Parent’s Should Know About Braces
Braces can either be exciting or extremely stressful for your child or teenager. If your son or daughter is dreading them, here are some tips to make it a more positive experience.
“Many parents look at the braces that their children get today and say, ‘Wow, this looks so much easier than what I had to go through as a kid!’ It’s true! Over time, braces have become much smaller. The wires that move the teeth are more comfortable than ever due to advancements in technology. These wires place lighter forces on the teeth, allowing for more efficient, less painful movement and fewer adjustments. This efficiency can mean less office time and longer intervals between treatment visits. For those demanding a more esthetic look, ceramic, or clear braces are popular with kids and teens and are a great alternative to traditional metal braces.” Andrew B. McDaniel, DDS, MS Diplomate, American Board of Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics of Chattanooga
Talk them through it.
Be honest with your kids about braces. Explain what they will feel like, what will happen at appointments, and how long they can plan to wear them. Tell them it may feel strange at first, but this will wear off. Encourage them to ask questions, and answer them with honesty and compassion.
Emphasize the long-term benefits.
If your child only sees braces as an inconvenience, try to put things in perspective. Remind him that the end result is straight teeth and a healthy bite for life – something many people across the world would long to have! To illustrate, show him before and after photos.
Address any social concerns.
It’s normal for kids to worry about how their peers may see them once they have braces. If your child feels self-conscious, offer positive, encouraging words and discourage him from thinking braces are a bigger deal than they really are. Not only do they look great, but plenty of his friends will be wearing them too!
Let them personalize.
Braces and rubber bands come in every color of the rainbow. It’s a fun opportunity to add some personality, celebrate a holiday, or support your favorite sports team. Or, if he wants something subtle, he can go with a less visible option like clear brackets and bands.
Once the braces are on, your child will need to take extra care when brushing and flossing and learn to avoid certain foods. If he isn’t compliant, be firm – this is a great chance to teach responsibility and self-discipline. If you need reinforcement, ask your orthodontist to explain the consequences of bad habits.
Help them treat the pain.
Stock up on items that can help deal with discomfort, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, orthodontic wax, topical anesthetics, and a variety of braces-friendly treats. Have these on hand – particularly on days when your child is getting his braces tightened.
Make visits a special occasion.
Give your son or daughter something to look forward to after leaving the office. Go get some favorite food, or plan on doing an activity you both enjoy.