Orthodontic treatment is extremely common during the childhood and teenage years. As the adult teeth start emerging, a number of problems can develop in the mouth of a young person; overcrowding, an overbite, or an underbite, for example. Having these types of issues treated with braces will not only improve the look of the mouth but will also improve the way the teeth function. Not to mention, braces can prevent other more severe issues from occurring down the road.
Though braces are not uncommon – in fact, there’s a pretty good chance your child knows at least one person with braces – some young people can struggle with the idea of having them put on. They might be afraid of how braces will make them look, that they will affect their speech, or that their peers will make fun of them. If your child has recently found out that he or she needs braces and isn’t too keen on the idea, here’s a look at some ways that you can help make their orthodontic experience more positive and enjoyable.
Get Them Customized
In the past, braces were a real eye-sore. Flashing a mouth full of blinding metal often resulted in teasing and insults, such as “brace face”. Fortunately, orthodontics has come a long way over the years. Braces can be customized, making them more personalized and even less noticeable. For example, instead of the standard silver, your child can choose gold or braces that are the same color as his or her teeth. There are tons of options available. Some orthodontists even offer fashion brackets, which come in different shapes, such as stars, hearts, and even Mickey Mouse!
Kids can also add some personality to their braces with their rubber bands. They can choose from a rainbow of colors. Encourage them to select their favorite colors, or to choose rubber bands that reflect their favorite sports teams. Allow them to have the color of their bands changed at each checkup to make appointments something your child will look forward to.
Make Trips to the Orthodontist Enjoyable
A visit to the orthodontist can feel like a chore for mom and dad and a bore for your kid, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With just a little bit of effort, checkups can be a really enjoyable experience. For example, you could surprise your child by taking him or her to a favorite spot or go out for some ice cream after a visit. Bring along a fun activity that you could do together in the waiting room, such as a game of cards or a crossword puzzle that you could do together.
It’s amazing how adding a little fun to things that would otherwise be considered monotonous can make them so much more enjoyable. Your kid might actually look forward to appointments!
Make a Personalized Grocery List
One of the reasons kids don’t like getting braces is because of dietary restrictions. There are certain foods that shouldn’t be eaten while wearing braces, such as gum, candy, pretzels; anything that is hard or sticky. These foods can stick to braces, which could potentially cause damage or create an embarrassing situation; your child could get food bits stuck in his or her braces and not know it!
Having to give up certain foods can be a real drag, but it’s really important. To make it easier to bear, let your kid help you create a grocery list that’s customized just for him or her! Look through cookbooks to find some tasty, braces-friendly recipes. Some options to consider include:
- Sloppy Joes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Baked apples or pears
- Pasta casserole
- Cakes (without hard or sticky ingredients)
- Ice creams (sans the hard or sticky toppings)
Go grocery shopping together and let your child lend a hand in the kitchen when making these recipes.
Check Out Celebrities with Braces
Kids hate the idea of being singled out, which is one of the reasons why many of them loathe braces. However, most kids have someone that they idolize, such as a musician or an actor, and would love the idea of sharing a commonality with that person.
Head over to the Internet and search for pictures of celebrities who have worn braces. Emma Watson, Gwen Stefani, Willow Smith, Prince Harry, Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus are just a handful of icons that have had braces. Look at the before and after photos of celebrities, too. Your child will not only feel that he or she has a shared experience with someone famous but will also be able to really see the difference the dental equipment made.
Be Supportive and Encouraging
Kids thrive on positive reinforcement. The more supportive and encouraging you are of the whole braces experience, the more your child will enjoy wearing them. For example, whenever you see your tween making wise food choices or taking good care of her braces, offer lots of praise. Also, pointing out the improvements that you see in your kid’s teeth can make a huge difference. It will give your child a self-esteem boost and just make him feel happier.
For lots of people, braces can seem like a real drag; however, by following these suggestions, you can avoid a lot of headaches and arguments, and make the experience a lot more enjoyable and easier to bear for your child – and for you!