If your child is about to start orthodontic treatment, chances are they’ll have a lot of questions. What will braces feel like? Will they hurt? Will they still be able to eat their favourite foods? What will their friends say?
It’s important both you and your child go into the treatment journey calm and confident. Here are five tips to help you prepare your child for getting braces, and put them at ease about the process.
1. Discuss treatment options with your child
There are plenty of options out there when it comes to orthodontic treatment, but it’s best to talk to your orthodontist about the most suitable options and treatment plan for your child. Usually metal braces are the best option for children and teens. As well as being reliable, they’re also a cost-effective way to straighten your child’s teeth, and your child can customise them with different colours.
Having an open discussion with your child about why they need braces and what it will achieve. Do some research together and encourage them to ask the orthodontist questions about the treatment plan and why it’s the best option for them.
2. Talk through what they can expect before their braces are fitted
It’s perfectly normal for children to feel nervous about having braces fitted. For starters, it’s likely to be the longest amount of time they’ll have ever spent in a dental chair! You can ease some of their nerves by letting them know that fitting metal braces is a very straightforward procedure. The small brackets are glued to their teeth and then connected with a thin wire before colourful elastic o-rings are placed over the top (if they want). They’ll need to come back for appointments with the orthodontist to have the wire adjusted, which will gradually straighten their teeth.
Your child might be worried that having their braces fitted will be painful. While they may feel a little discomfort while they’re getting used to the brackets, this will only last for a couple of days. If this is something your child experiences, we recommend Panadol or Nurofen to manage any tenderness.
3. Stock up on soft foods
While having braces fitted shouldn’t be painful in itself, the light pressure the braces put on your child’s teeth might cause them some mild discomfort for the first couple of days. Soft foods like rice, pasta, ice cream, yoghurt or mashed potato, and liquid meals like soup will help to keep their energy up without having to chew too hard during the initial settling in period. Chilled foods also have the added benefit of soothing sore mouths, especially if the bracket starts to rub, so make sure your fridge is well-stocked!
4. Have plenty of orthodontic wax on hand
While your child gets used to their braces, the brackets might irritate or cause sores on the inside of their mouth. Orthodontic wax (also known as ‘braces wax’ or ‘dental wax’) is an easy way to make your child’s braces more comfortable. Simply roll it in your fingertips to soften it, and then press it onto the part of the bracket that’s causing the problem. The wax will form a protective layer that stops the bracket from rubbing.
As well as keeping it on hand around the house, it’s a good idea to give your child their own supply. That way, if their brackets cause discomfort while they’re at school, playing sports or with their friends, they’ll be able to deal with it quickly and independently. Your orthodontist will usually provide as much wax as you need free of charge.
5. Focus on the benefits of braces
While a year or two might not seem a long time to adults, for a kid it can seem like forever. Gentle reminders that wearing braces is a temporary measure can help to build your child’s confidence. If your child is frustrated by the amount of time they’ll need to wear their braces, let them know that braces are meant to be a permanent fix, not a quick one. The main thing is that they know it’ll all be worth it in the long run, when they have straight teeth and a confident smile!
For more guidance on helping your child navigate their orthodontic journey ahead, download our free Kids and Orthodontics e-book.