Getting braces is a big deal to any child, and each one faces their own set of unique challenges. If you help your son or daughter face this inevitability with calm confidence, the experience is going to be far more successful for them and far less stressful for you.
1. Address Possible Tongue Thrust Issues
Although not commonly known, tongue thrust, in which a person inadvertently pushes forward on the front teeth with their tongue, actually causes the teeth to move. This most often results in an overbite but can also force a gap to emerge between the top front teeth. If your child is using their tongue in this manner, it may be best to address the issue prior to having braces installed. Ask your dentist or orthodontist about orofacial myofunctional therapy to remedy the tongue thrusting. This therapy involves retraining the tongue to move properly in the mouth and sometimes includes the use of a device.
Tongue thrusting is likely to counteract the realignment effect of braces, wasting your time and money along with frustrating your child who may need to wear the braces longer than otherwise would have been necessary.
2. Help Your Child Break Other Habits That May Harm Teeth
Before you invest in braces, work with your child to help eliminate habits that could easily have a negative impact on the orthodontic treatments. Doing so now should make life easier on your child after the braces are on, so they don't have to deal with the new equipment in their mouth at the same time as trying to break bad habits:
- Chewing on ice or hard candy.
- Playing sports without a mouth guard.
- Consuming too much soda, unnatural fruit juice, and sugary sports drinks.
- Prying things open with teeth.
- Nibbling nervously on finger nails, pencil erasers, and anything else that doesn't belong in the mouth.
3. Discuss Orthodontic Anxiety And Apprehension Openly
Many kids tend to be afraid of going to the dentist's office and they're not likely to view the orthodontist any differently. If your child is anxious, encourage them to discuss their feelings so they can be addressed out in the open. The apprehension is natural and suppressing fear only exacerbates it. Your child is likely to be more cooperative if they're comfortable with the idea of having foreign objects in their mouth and making regular trips to the orthodontist.
4. Let Your Child Know What To Expect
Fear of the unknown can be a major influence on anyone, especially children. Make sure that you give your son or daughter a complete explanation of what braces are, how they work and how they'll feel. Even a child who's already comfortable with the idea of braces should understand the concept of what they are and why they need them. Have your child talk to other kids who have had braces and brief your child on the basics:
- Braces are usually made of stainless steel and bonded to teeth with special glue.
- Braces work by slowly moving teeth into their rightful places through the use of gentle force, which is controlled by the incremental tweaking of the wires.
- Elastics on braces help align the upper and lower teeth, which eliminates the overbite and keeps the main wire of the braces in place.
- Although braces feel "weird" and are sometimes uncomfortable, they don't usually cause pain; when tightened, there may be a clenching feeling in the jaw though.
- Braces are available in many colors, including clear.
5. Choose The Right Treatment Option For Your Child's Needs
Talk with your orthodontist about all possible options for your child and find out how long they're going to need them. During this time, depending on the type, various events will occur, like wire-tightening, adding other elements, and replacing minor parts of the apparatus. If your child is very young or if their teeth are in need of complicated repairs, options may be limited but the choices in braces these days may be different than what was previously available.
- Lingual or invisible braces may be an option if your child's teeth are long enough and there's no dramatic overbite present.
- Ceramic braces, which are less noticeable than metal braces, could be right for your child if you're willing to pay more (than for traditional metal braces).
- Metal braces, while clearly visible, are often the best option for kids, as they're more suitable for fittings and adjustments; metal braces are also usually the most affordable option
6. Maintain High Standards For The Care Of The Braces
No matter what, you've got to help your child work to care for the braces. Good oral health and habits will protect the teeth and braces, and regular maintenance should maximize the efficiency of the device. It's also extremely important that your child follows the instructions of the orthodontist to the letter.
With the right preparations, you and your child will get through braces with no major complications. Be reassuring and informative and remind your child how beautiful their smile is going to be once the braces are off. Tell them major celebrities, from Venus and Serena Williams to Prince Harry to Miley Cyrus all wore them and turned out just fine. Reach out to a place like Donald E. Snyder Orthodontics for more information.