As a parent, just raising a preteen or teenager is hectic enough; from keeping up with schoolwork to deciding on a curfew, getting on the same page with your teen can be an ongoing battle. When you add dental care to the mix, you might be met with some resistance. After all, any adult who dealt with braces as a kid likely remembers being called “metal-mouth” and quickly realizing that braces are far from a fashion accessory. We’ve put together some quick tips for handling the stress of braces and helping your child through this important step in their lifelong dental health.
Discuss Types of Braces
There are three types of braces to consider when planning for the future of your child’s dental health. After an initial consultation with your dentist, he or she may recommend brackets, which can be bonded to either the front or back surface of the teeth, or a metal retainer-like appliance that wraps around each set of teeth. With the help of your dentist, you and your child can choose from a handful of different materials for braces, some of which are lighter or less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
Make it Fun
Braces aren’t what they used to be even a decade ago; new developments in style and materials have made braces more comfortable and less conspicuous. If your dentist recommends traditional brackets, your child can choose from a wide array of colored bands for their teeth. Especially for preteens and younger adolescents, the idea of picking a fashion accessory – and changing things up every few weeks at their dental checkup – can put a fun spin on having metal in their mouth.
When a dentist installs your child’s braces, he or she will also provide instructions for care, including a list of foods that should be avoided. Crunchy foods like carrots and popcorn can get stuck or damage the brackets, which might be painful and will require an additional trip to the dentist. Instead of yearning for the foods they can’t eat, help your teen get excited about new foods by trying new recipes like smoothies or shakes that they can make at home. These types of foods will both soothe a sore mouth and provide a fun distraction from any discomfort.
Get the Right Tools
Your child will likely experience a day or two of discomfort after the initial installation and each tightening of their braces. While eating soft foods and help temporarily, make sure you talk to your dentist about over the counter medicines to help your child cope with the pain.
Your dentist will also talk to you and your child about proper care for braces. Because braces trap food particles that can become stuck and create plaque, your teen will need to be diligent about cleaning their teeth. Providing tooths like a Waterpik or floss threaders can make it easier to keep those nooks and crannies clean, with the added novelty of a new electronic device. Additionally, if your teen loves a certain “danger” food like popcorn or taffy, try providing an alternative that they’ll enjoy. Some grocery stores sell kernel-free popcorn or types of candies that are safe for braces.
Keep the Goal in Mind
Even with these exciting twists, getting braces can still be a nerve-wracking and difficult process for some kids. Make sure to keep things in perspective. Remind your child that this phase won’t last forever, and when your teen does get their braces removed, it will reveal straight, even teeth. If your child is finding it exceptionally difficult to get through the discomfort of having braces, talk to your dentist about other options, or about how you can set goals or provide rewards to encourage proper dental care. Remember, braces are all about the end game: a perfect smile!
Think your child might need braces? Contact Manus Dental Hyde Park at (773) 752-6600 to schedule a consultation with our orthodontist.