A lot of our teenage Greer and Simpsonville braces patients are excited to start treatment and show off their hardware. For others, the idea of brackets and wires is less appealing. Maybe they feel self-conscious about drawing attention to their smile or they don’t like the thought of giving up certain foods. Since compliance is an important part of achieving amazing results and finishing treatment on time, getting your child on board with the teeth-straightening process is key. Here are some of our tips for helping your teenager cope with braces:
1. Learn About Life with Braces
Do a little research about life with braces and what kinds of challenges teens might face during treatment. This is especially helpful if you never had braces yourself and can’t relate to what they’re going through. Boosting your knowledge will allow you to address your kiddo’s questions and concerns and give them guidance on how to deal with braces and take care of their appliance. If you’re unsure about something, feel free to ask a Davis Orthodontics’ team member. We’re always more than happy to offer tips and information.
2. Lay Out Your Expectations
Talking with your teenager about braces and your expectations for treatment is a must. They might not realize that it’s an investment and how important the benefits of orthodontic treatment will be for them in the future. Set the ground rules upfront like steering clear of really hard, chewy and sticky foods that can damage their braces, wearing a mouthguard when playing sports, brushing after every meal and flossing once a day. Let them know that consistently breaking brackets or getting cavities will slow their treatment down.
3. Focus on the Outcome
Another great way to help your teenager cope with braces is to encourage them to keep their eye on the end results. When teens hear that they’ll be wearing braces for a year or two that sounds like forever to them. Help them to see the bigger picture and the light at the end of the tunnel. If you had braces yourself and now have a fantastic smile to show for it, talk with them about the confidence you gained from your own treatment and how it was well worth it. You might also want to check out braces before and after pictures online so they can visualize their results.
4. Point Out They’re Not Alone
If your teenager is worried that wearing braces will make them feel self-conscious, point out how many of their classmates are in the same boat or talk about all of the celebrities who wore braces. Actress Lucy Hale had braces for three years and then later did Invisalign treatment because her dog destroyed her retainer! Dakota Fanning not only had braces but also wore headgear and even showed it off on The Tonight Show. Kendall Jenner, Jaden Smith, Prince Harry, Niall Horan, Emma Watson and Drew Barrymore are also among the celebrities who wore braces to achieve their famous smiles.
5. Explore Their Treatment Options
When you take your teenager to the orthodontist for a consultation, ask about the treatment options and weigh the pros and cons of the different types of braces. Be realistic about your child’s personality and lifestyle. Some of our Greer and Simpsonville braces patients love the traditional metal type because they can choose colorful elastics to go with them. Others are shy or don’t like how their smile looks and would prefer something that blends in like clear braces. If your teenager is great about oral hygiene and wants completely hidden brackets and wires, lingual braces could be a good fit. If they’re an athlete and not the best with brushing and flossing regularly, Invisalign® Teen might be the better alternative. Choosing a solution they feel comfortable with can ultimately make their treatment more successful and enable them to build confidence as a teenager with braces.
6. Plan Ahead
It’s easier to learn how to deal with braces when you’re prepared and have everything you need on hand. Before your teenager gets their braces put on, go shopping together. Stock up on the things they’ll need for their oral hygiene and comfort (e.g., a great toothbrush, floss threaders, non-whitening toothpaste, interproximal brushes, fluoride mouthwash, orthodontic relief wax and an over-the-counter pain reliever). Since their teeth will be a little sensitive right after their braces are put on and following adjustments, fill the fridge and pantry with soft foods and cold drinks, such as yogurt, ingredients to make smoothies, applesauce, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and ripe fruit. You might also want to have them choose some braces-friendly recipes they’d like to make.
7. Offer Support and Positive Reinforcement
If your teenager is having a bad day and feeling frustrated with their braces, lend an ear. Throughout treatment, continue to refocus them on the eventual outcome. You can also show your solidarity by becoming an oral hygiene whiz yourself and temporarily giving up the same foods they have to. Positive reinforcement is a powerful way to help your teenager cope with braces too. If they follow the orthodontist’s instructions, tell them how proud you are. When they hit milestones in their treatment or if they’re particularly responsible one week, reward them by doing something fun together.
8. Choose the Right Orthodontic Practice
When a teenager actually likes going to their orthodontic visits, you can eliminate a lot of the struggle and they’re way more likely to be compliant with treatment. Both the Greer and Simpsonville Davis Orthodontics offices are designed with patient comfort in mind and we have a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. We do everything we can to make treatment fun and enjoyable from holding contests to surprising patients with treats from the King of Pops. We also have a high-tech approach, so treatment is quicker, more comfortable and convenient, which goes a long way in making the braces experience a positive one.
Showing your child that you’re in their corner, being prepared and staying focused on the beautiful, healthy smile they’ll get when treatment is done, will enable them to build confidence and tackle any challenges with ease. Are you ready to start the teeth-straightening process now that you know how to help your teenager cope with braces? Book a free consultation with Dr. Buddy at Davis Orthodontics today! Schedule your visit at our Greer or Simpsonville orthodontic practice online or by calling us at (864) 801-3500 (Greer) or (864) 967-0053 (Simpsonville).