Braces: Tips for a Painless Experience
Braces can be a source of anxiety and embarrassment for many kids, especially during their preteen and teenage years. Navigating through this awkward phase can be challenging, but as parents, we can help make it a smoother and more comfortable experience for our children. Here are some helpful tips that I discovered while my daughter was going through the process of getting braces.
It is important to educate your child about why braces are needed and the long-term benefits that they provide. A professional can explain the reasons for the treatment, its purpose, and the health benefits of braces. Knowing that braces straighten and space your teeth correctly is one thing, but they also help prevent gum disease, tooth decay, bad bites, jaw problems, and abnormal tooth wear. This knowledge helped my daughter accept her braces.
One of the downsides of braces is that certain foods are prohibited. Foods like jerky, gum, caramels, nuts, popcorn, and taffy are off-limits. Crunchy and chewy foods can damage the braces, bending wires, and popping brackets. Chewy foods like gum, caramel, and taffy can get lodged into the braces, causing further problems. To counteract this, my daughter and I made a game out of finding replacement foods for these favorites. Apples were replaced with bananas, chips with string cheese, bagels with muffins, and popcorn with cookies. The game helped her realize that the “haves” outweigh the “have nots.”
Appearance can be a source of anxiety for kids who wear braces. It doesn’t help that many TV shows and movies portray characters with braces as geeky or uncool. Discuss whether the opinions of bullies matter to your child. It’s important to remind them that celebrities also wear braces and are still considered cool. My daughter also loved the option of customizing the colored bands on her braces to make them more fashionable or trendy.
Braces themselves do not hurt, but they are uncomfortable. Pain can be a source of fear and anxiety for kids who do not like going to the dentist. It’s essential to clarify any doubts about braces and let kids know that any discomfort is temporary and easily relieved with a little Tylenol. Scheduling appointments at the end of the school day will allow children to become accustomed to this new change without the added pressures of school. This will help them feel more confident in their braces.
Getting braces can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for kids. As parents, it’s essential to provide emotional support, encouragement, and helpful tips to make the experience as painless as possible. By educating our children, planning replacement food options, discussing appearances, and clarifying any doubts or fears, the orthodontic journey can be a smooth and more comfortable ride.