As an experienced orthodontist in Roy, Utah, our team at Dr. Carr Orthodontics understands firsthand that, for some teens, getting braces can be traumatic. While a lot of our teenage patients get excited by the idea of having straighter, healthier, better-looking teeth, others only fixate on the stigma they believe comes from wearing braces. Their concern about how wearing braces will make them look and the possibility of being teased blinds them to the long-term benefits orthodontic treatment provides. No matter which camp your teen falls into, it’s important for parents to provide the encouragement, support, and patience needed to help your child successfully complete his or her treatment.
Here are a few tips Dr. Carr and our team recommend that parents use to help their teen deal with wearing braces.
How excited your teen is about getting braces could impact his or her attitude about taking the steps to ensure a successful treatment. Whether traditional metal braces or Invisalign aligners, the success of a patient’s treatment greatly depends on how seriously the patient takes brushing and flossing, avoiding foods that could damage the orthodontic appliance, and visiting Dr. Carr for regular checkups and adjustments. If your child fails to immediately adopt the right habits to ensure a successful treatment, it’s important that you stay patient as you remind him of what’s needed to ensure his treatment ends with a great-looking smile.
Education is Key
Many teens don’t appreciate what orthodontic treatment means for their long-term health. Educating your teen on the value of a great-looking smile and the lower risk of chronic oral health issues may make it easier for her to take seriously the steps needed to ensure a successful treatment. It’s also important for parents that never wore braces as a child to do a little research into what orthodontic treatment is like so they can better relate and anticipate problems their teen may have while wearing braces.
It can be easy to forget about your teen’s orthodontic care and make small mistakes that make it harder for your child to stay committed to his or her treatment. These mistakes may include buying and keeping hard or chewy candy around the house, buying popcorn at the movies, offering your child a piece of gum, packing lunches that include foods your teen isn’t supposed to eat, and other small, but significant, unintentional ways of sabotaging their treatment. Being a teen and having braces is hard enough without having to isolate yourself from the foods and activities your family is enjoying.
Encourage Quality Habits
If your teen has a hard time remembering to rinse with salt water or flossing, you can help him remember by putting the water or floss threaders in front of him. Small encouragements can make a significant impact on your child’s oral health. If you see your teen eating or doing something counterproductive to his treatment, gently remind him what separates a good habit from a bad.
Keep Dinner Braces-Friendly
One of the toughest hurdles teens with braces face is not being able to eat the same foods as their family and friends. While you can’t always control what your teen eats out of the home, you can control what foods she can eat during family mealtimes. Making lunches and dinners that are soft and chewable (while still not chewy) can be a great way to keep family meals braces-friendly. Softer foods are especially important immediately following the placement of your teen’s braces and after adjustments when her gums are tender and teeth a little sore.
Keep Communication Channels Open
Orthodontic treatment can often cause teens to feel like they’re suffering alone in silence. If the brackets or wires of your teen’s braces are poking his gums or pinching his cheeks, that’s something Dr. Carr needs to know. Unfortunately, our team may never know your teen is in discomfort if he never tells us that his braces need tweaking. Make sure your teen understands that it’s okay to talk about any discomfort he may be feeling.
Set Realistic Expectations
The first question most patients have of their orthodontist in Roy, Utah after getting braces is –“When do they come off?” It’s important that you stay open and honest with your teen when setting expectations about her orthodontic treatment. Don’t tell your teen that her braces will probably come off in a year if Dr. Carr says treatment could last between 24 to 36 months. While having to wear braces for 1, 2, or 3 years may seem like a lifetime to most teens, it’s better they have realistic expectations about how long their treatment will take rather than suffer from wishful thinking.