While wearing braces is pretty common around middle schools these days, most tweens still don’t like the idea. If your child is facing a few years of regular orthodontist visits, there are things you can do to help them focus on the bright side of braces.
1. Learn What to Expect
The unknown is scary. Empower you child by helping them learn what having braces is like. Encourage them to ask questions during dentist and orthodontist visits. Suggest they talk to their friends who already have braces. The internet is also a great resource with lots of information and advice from people who’ve been there.
2. Show Your Child What They’ll Look Like
We all have our vanities, but tweens and teens can be especially sensitive about their appearance. This is a case where a picture really is worth a million words, so do a little photo editing or visit a website that will do it for you. At PaintYourSmile.com, your child uploads a picture and then clicks on either clear or metal brackets to place them on their image’s teeth. Then they apply rubber bands.
The website lets them experiment with just one hue or a whole rainbow of rubber bands so that they can get an idea of what they’ll actually look like with braces. The website complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. No pictures are saved or posted elsewhere, but your child can download the image they create or share it with their friends via email, Facebook or Twitter.
3. Be Positive
Focus on the good parts of wearing braces. Try to convince your child to treat their braces like a fashion accessory and encourage them to have fun choosing the colorful rubber bands. Remind them that they aren’t alone; many of their classmates will also have braces. If all else fails, point out how fantastic their smile will look when they get their braces off.
4. Be Honest
Being positive doesn’t mean lying or discounting your child’s fears. Braces aren’t fun or painless. They also restrict what you can eat and require a lot of time at the orthodontist’s office. Acknowledge these truths and promise to be supportive. Stock up on wax and over-the-counter painkillers for the times when your child’s mouth hurts. Work with them to find new treats to substitute for the favorite snacks they can’t eat while wearing braces. Most importantly, be there to listen when they need to talk.
With endless adjustments, figuring out what to eat, and learning how to brush with a mouth full of brackets and wires, the prospect of braces is enough to make anyone wary. Helping your tween stay positive will make the experience more pleasant for both of you. Take comfort in the knowledge that braces can give your tween more than a perfect smile.
Dealing with the daily care and occasional surprises that braces bring can actually help them gain confidence in their ability to handle whatever life throws their way. That’s something they’ll enjoy long after the braces come off.