Does your child have an important event coming up? Perhaps a birthday party or other special occasion where there's bound to be endless temptations in the form of sticky and chewy treats that could damage their braces? Or an event which could make them feel self-conscious about their braces?
No child wants to miss out, so it’s good to have ideas up your sleeve to help boost your child’s confidence and ensure them they’re relaxed and able to enjoy the event.
Here are some valuable tips and tricks to help your kid survive (and still enjoy!) special occasions whilst wearing braces.
Let’s get the bad news over with first: parties are often packed with foods that are not braces-friendly.
Crunchy rolls or crusty bread can damage brackets, popcorn and crunchy nuts can snap the wiring in a brace, fairy floss, fairy bread and goody bags stuffed with chewy lollies and caramels can become trapped and lead to tooth decay. None of that sounds fun, but avoiding all of those treats isn’t an easy feat, even for the most controlled among us!
Giving your child some background as to why they aren’t able to eat certain sticky, hard or sugary foods while wearing braces, and letting them know that this is just a temporary restriction can help greatly.
But the good news is that not all party food is banned! Cookies and cake can both be eaten in moderation, and if they’re hard or chewy your child can soften them in a glass of milk. Pizzas are brace-friendly (just watch out for the crust!), as are sausage rolls, hot dogs and party pies.
Starting high school
Starting high school can be a nerve wracking experience for any child. They’re going from a familiar environment with people they know, and being launched into a world where they have different classes, higher expectations, and need to make new friends. If your child is self-conscious about their braces, it could make this time of their life even more fraught.
As well as reminding your child of the benefits of braces and that it’s a temporary measure for a permanent fix, parents can do small things to help build their child’s confidence as they start at a new school. New clothes or shoes at the start of the school year can make your child feel more confident, or if your child has to wear a uniform, try offering to take them for a new haircut or to get new stationery. And chances are, they’ll get to school and see plenty of other children with braces too!
A first date is one of the most exciting times in any young person’s life! It’s unlikely your child will be thinking about their braces on their first date (unless they’re worried about the myth of getting braces stuck together while kissing!), but looking after their braces should be in the back of their mind.
If they go out for dinner on their date, a teenager might be worried about getting food stuck in their braces. To avoid any embarrassment, an easy trick to remove food from braces is to swill water in the mouth discretely - or they could always carry a small bottle of mouthwash to take to the bathroom and quickly give their mouth a rinse. If their meal is garlicky then it’s killing two birds with one stone!
If the cinema is on the cards for date-night, they can still grab a cool drink before they go in. If they’re wearing braces, sugar-free or “diet” drinks are slightly better for kids and teenagers to drink than full strength soda, and non-fizzy drinks are better for their teeth than fizzy drinks. Bottled water is the best choice as it is sugar free and non-acidic. Cinema food is a bit trickier, with corn chips and popcorn easily getting stuck in hard-to-reach parts of the bracket. If they want a snack at the cinema it might be a better idea to go for an ice cream!
Sports day is always a fun event, as much for the parents watching as the kids taking part! In general, braces won’t stop anyone playing the sports they love, so your kid should still be able to participate in all of their favourite sports day events. However, if they are playing contact sports, it’s recommended that they wear a mouthguard to protect against any possible dental injuries. A mouthguard will mean your child can play sport confidently, and not worry about damaging their mouth or braces when they go for gold!
There are a number of different mouthguard options for kids and teens wearing braces or other orthodontic devices. Speak to your orthodontist to find out which option is best suited for your child’s circumstances.
Formals can be one of the most-anticipated events of your child’s school career, and there’s so much to prepare for, from dresses and jewellery to suits to limousines. Every child deserves to be centre of attention on the day of their formal, but if your teen wears braces they might be concerned that it’ll be their mouth that people are looking at.
If they are worried about their braces being a standout feature on formal night, one option for your teenage son or daughter would be to pick a neutral colour for their brackets so they don’t jump out. Or if they’re more concerned that the colour of their bands will clash with their outfit, they can always call in to see their orthodontist before the big night and pick colours to complement their outfit!
However, the main way of easing your child’s nerves will be to build their confidence. Leaving enough time for a mini photo-shoot around the house or garden before you go will help them to practice their winning smile, and will give you a good opportunity to give them plenty of compliments!
Our advice – smile loud and proud. In years to come, they won’t be looking back on the photos and regretting having orthodontic treatment, so the important thing is that they just relax and enjoy their night!
About this blog
The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) is the peak body for Orthodontists and orthodontic knowledge across Australia.
Orthodontics Australia by the ASO, is the ASO’s public information and advice channel. Our blog and social media platforms have been designed to assist your research efforts and help you understand the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist, your orthodontic treatment options, the results you can expect and the journey along the way.
Of course, we can help you find registered orthodontists too with no referral needed! We hope you find this resource helpful and it gives you the confidence to take the next step in achieving the smile you’ve always wanted.