When your child first finds out they’ll be getting braces or Invisalign, they’re likely going to have a lot of questions. They might be nervous about the treatment being painful or embarrassed to be the only person in class with braces (fact: they won’t be!). They might be frustrated about all the rules of what they can and can’t eat, and how to brush and floss their teeth. We get these questions all the time at Richard Chan Orthodontics, both from our teen patients and their parents. In most cases, kids are simply afraid of the unknown. As parents, it’s your job to help them understand what to expect and prepare them as best as possible.
As your child gets ready to start his or her orthodontic treatment, there are many things you can do to ease their concerns and even get them excited (yes, really!). And if you ever have questions, just call your Monroe, Mill Creek, Bothell, Sitka and Juneau orthodontist. Dr. Richard Chan is always here to help.
- Learn All About Braces and Invisalign Together
Beginning any orthodontic treatment can feel a little overwhelming, not only for kids and teens but for their parents too. The first step to preparing for braces or Invisalign is to learn as much as possible about treatment before it actually starts. Research how your child’s life will change, from the foods they can eat to the activities they might have to sit out. Better yet, get educated together so the whole family knows what to expect. When you’ve done thorough research and discussed all of your child’s treatment options, everyone will feel better equipped to take on life with braces.
- Let Them Know They’re Not Alone
Many kids don’t want braces or Invisalign because they think they’ll be the only one they know going through it. But did you know an estimated 80% of teens will have some sort of orthodontic treatment? Chances are your child already has a few friends or classmates with braces or Invisalign. Maybe you even had braces yourself way back when. Reminding your kids that they’re not alone (and that treatment can be a positive experience) can help them get more comfortable with the idea of getting braces.
There are also many celebrities who had braces, even when they were already in the public eye. Drew Barrymore, Kendall Jenner and Dakota Fanning are just a few of Hollywood’s biggest names who have had braces. Once your kids see how common braces are for everyone, they’ll feel better about their own treatment. And seeing the results of braces on the big screen is also an added benefit!
- Stock the Fridge with Soft Foods
Adapting to life with braces is about more than getting used to seeing a new smile in the mirror. Your kids will also have to adjust their eating habits to make sure they get the most out of their treatment. There are a number of foods to avoid when you have braces, including sticky, chewy, hard, or crunchy foods, or anything you have to bite into (such as apples, corn on the cob or whole raw carrots). As a parent, you can make their lives easier by stocking up on and preparing braces-friendly foods. Soft things like yogurt, fruit, soups, smoothies, steamed veggies or ice cream are perfect foods for people with braces because they’re easy to chew and won’t get caught in your child’s braces. The best part is that braces-safe foods are usually super healthy, so the whole family can benefit from a braces-friendly diet!
- Plan Ahead for Discomfort
On top of learning what they can and cannot eat, your child will also have to get used to the feel of braces or Invisalign. With any orthodontic treatment, there can be discomfort as the teeth shift and move to their desired position. Braces can cause additional irritation to your child’s lips or the inside of their mouth. Parents can help their kids cope by having orthodontic wax and mild pain killers on hand. Have your kids take a child-safe medication like Advil before getting their braces tightened or when they’re switching to a new set of aligners. If their brackets are causing sores, place orthodontic wax over the uncomfortable part of the braces to reduce irritation. Being proactive about managing discomfort will ensure your kids have a much more positive experience with braces or Invisalign.
- Focus on the End Goal
We all know that kids can be impatient and during orthodontic treatment is no different. Your kids will probably be counting down the days until their braces come off or when they can put away their aligners for good. Depending on their length of treatment, they’ll have many months to wait which can make it hard for them to see how their oral hygiene habits today will impact results down the line. To keep them motivated, help them look ahead to the end of treatment when they’ll get to see their perfect smile. Focusing on the outcome will encourage them to stay on track and comply with their orthodontist’s instructions. And before they know it, they’ll be able to proudly show off their brand new smile.