Let’s be honest – most teenagers aren’t thrilled with the idea of getting braces. Of course, most teenagers aren’t thrilled with a lot of things, so as a parent, you can just add braces to the list. While they might not love you for this in the moment, your teen will appreciate their braces down the line when they have healthy, great-looking teeth as they head into adulthood.
You might not be able to make your teen love their braces, but you can make this process a little easier by providing some support. The tips listed below will help you do everything you can to get your teen through this necessary, but challenging, process.
The first tip we have to offer doesn’t actually have anything to do with the braces themselves. As a parent, it is up to you to be understanding of your teen during this process – especially at the start. Braces can be uncomfortable, and they can turn a normally-compliant kid into a bit of a handful. If you are turning a deaf ear to their complaints, you will be making things worse.
Understand that your child is probably in some pain, and be compassionate. Not only will this make your teen feel like he or she has an ally rather than an enemy, but you will also be able to pick up important information which can be relayed to our office. While some pain and discomfort is just part of the process, there are certain issues which can be improved with a minor adjustment to the braces. Be patient and understanding and the process will be improved for all involved.
Cool Things Down
When something on your body hurts, applying a cold item is often the way to go for relief. In the case of braces, that means eating or drinking something cold to help reduce overall discomfort. It could be as simple as a cold glass of water, or something as tasty as ice cream. While you don’t want to encourage too much sugar consumption, a little bit from time to time will be okay.
Plan Your Meals Accordingly
As dinner time approaches, make sure you are planning a meal which is going to be suitable for a teenager wearing braces. Foods that are particularly hard or difficult to chew should be left off the menu for the time being. Serving those foods to other members of the family may only make things worse, as the teen will be left to feel jealous and frustrated with the situation.
Think about meals your family enjoys which don’t include any tough elements. This often means meals which cook for a long time, such as those you put in a slow-cooker. It might be a little tricky at first when transitioning away from some of your go-to dinner options, but you should quickly be able to come up with a menu that is completely braces-friendly.
Pack Your Patience
Being patient is something that most parents have down pat by the time their kids reach the teenage years. You will need to be even more patient during this time, however, as your teenager may be a little more difficult to deal with. Just as you need to be understanding with regard to the pain they are in, you also need to be aware that they could be a little irritable and cranky. Sure, you still need to be the parent and set the rules, but a little compassion along the way will help.
Have the Answers
Educating yourself on the do’s and don’ts of braces will go a long way toward making this process easier. Teenagers aren’t necessarily known for their attention spans, so they might not take note of all of the instructions they are given by the orthodontist. Therefore, you should take up that job for them and make sure you have the answers to their basic questions. What can they eat? How do they clean their teeth while the braces are on? Etc., etc. Do your best to be well-versed on this topic so your child can see you as a resource along the way.
Braces are an important part of oral health for many teens, but that doesn’t mean they are always welcomed with open arms. Among the many other roles you have to play as a parent, add at-home dentist to the list. Be there for your kid, listen to their concerns, and answer questions as thoroughly as you can. In the end, the time for wearing braces will come and go, and the child’s teeth will be better off in the long run.