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Orthodontia treatment is common these days, and many kids are excited about the prospect of improving their smile. However, the reality is that getting braces usually requires an adjustment period to help kids get used to the feel of brackets and wires in their mouths as well as their appearance while wearing them. Here are six ways parents can help young kids get used to the feel and look of braces.
Remind Them They’re Not Alone
Preteens and younger teenagers often feel self-conscious about their appearance, even when they have nothing to be self-conscious about. After being fitted with braces, they sometimes feel more ill at ease with how they look and will avoid smiling or showing their teeth in public.
Gently remind them that many of their peers are also wearing braces, and they will soon finish treatment with a whole new look. Feeling less alone may take the edge off their social discomfort.
Eat Soft Foods at First
Braces can be uncomfortable initially, especially when eating. Serve soft foods until your child gets used to eating with hardware in their mouth. Mashed potatoes, soups, puddings, and other easy-to-chew foods will help them adjust to eating with braces.
Even after they’ve gotten used to eating around a mouthful of braces, there are some foods they should avoid for the duration they have braces. Nuts and other crunchy foods like carrots and hard crackers can damage the hardware on their teeth.
Chewy foods like rolls, bagels, pizza crusts, and gummy candy can get stuck in their braces. The sugars in these foods will damage their teeth if they can’t get it off quickly. Even popcorn should be avoided. It may be helpful for your whole family to avoid these foods when you’re all together.
Establish a Daily Care Routine
Your child likely knows how to care for their teeth on a daily basis, but that routine becomes even more important when they have braces. It may also be more difficult as it requires more attention to detail.
Make sure your child knows how to brush, floss, and rinse their teeth while wearing braces. Designate certain times each day to help kids form a reliable care routine. Becoming responsible for good dental care while wearing braces can help to reinforce their commitment to orthodontic care.
Keep Up with Scheduled Orthodontic Checkups
Make sure your child keeps scheduled orthodontic treatment appointments. This is easier for younger children as you’ll likely be taking them to each appointment, but you may find that they very become very stubborn or upset when these appointments come up. It’s understandable as adjustments to the braces can be very uncomfortable.
Though your child may be reluctant to attend, regular appointments are vital. They ensure that treatment proceeds as planned and that any needed adjustments are quickly identified.
If your child is nervous about appointments, remind them that these appointments can also help to keep treatment moving forward on schedule so that they will not have to wear braces any longer than necessary.
Point Out Treatment Outcomes
When a child complains about braces, show pictures of other kids with straight, attractive teeth and nice smiles. Reinforcing positive outcomes can help motivate kids to stay on track with orthodontic treatment and taking care of their braces.
Encourage Them to Pick Fun Colors
Many orthodontists offer a range of colors for braces treatment. School colors, holiday colors, or your child’s favorite colors can help your child enjoy a sense of control and buy-in to their treatment. It may also contribute to them finding their own style and fashion.
Fortunately, orthodontic treatments usually only last a matter of months or perhaps a year or two. Kids that understand the benefits of orthodontic treatment and participate in care for their braces are more likely to accept treatment with a calm, matter-of-fact attitude and an optimistic outlook.