“Aw, Mom, I don’t want to look like the front end of a Buick” ☹ That was the cry heard from many children growing up in the 60s, 70s and even later last century when they found out they needed braces. Middle school was bad enough, but the idea of silver grills being seen every time a child smiled was the cause of countless frowning or gloomy yearbook pictures. And, “what did you mean when you said they weren’t coming off until some time during high school? You mean I am going to have “those things” on my teeth for PROM?????? I’d rather die!”
Good news, kids – times have changed!
Tremendous advances in the orthodontic field have made it easier for children to accept the fact that they need corrective appliances to straighten their teeth and prevent them from malformed occlusions that would inevitably cause further problems into adulthood. Here are just a few ideas that parents can try to help their children with the process:
Before the Big Day
- Show your child pictures. If you can find photos of your child’s favorite celebrity as a kid and now, you can feel pretty safe in saying that braces may have helped give that actor or singer his or her beautiful smile!
- Take your child shopping. You know that there will be foods your child can’t eat while those braces are on, so how about letting him/her choose some favorite morsels that will be allowed. Might seem less punitive!
- Take before pics of your child. We know the orthodontist will, but some candid “smiles” will help later on when it’s all said and done to show how much the process was worth it.
Braces don’t have to be silver
- Let your child work with the orthodontist to plan the style and color of the braces where possible. There are many options out there that you can discuss with the orthodontist and his/her staff.
- Rubber bands come in all different colors! Let your child pick school colors, or black and orange for Halloween or maybe red and blue for Independence Day. Guys might love the colors of their favorite sports teams, too. It lets them participate and feel as if they have a say in the whole process.
Make it special but don’t overplay it
Depending on the age of your child, you may want to reward their visit days by taking them to lunch or a movie (no popcorn, sorry). But you don’t want to make it feel as if this is a horrible experience that needs positive compensation. Remember, there is a way to reinforce without compensating.
One last thing – remind your child that good oral hygiene will be critical in the long-term success of the time he or she will have to wear those braces. Be sure your child brushes after every meal and cleans his or her tongue with a TUNG Brush and Gel every day. Remember, kids – those braces and snazzy rubber bands will look and feel a lot better without food stuck in them 😉