As parents, we often try to remove potential hurdles that might get in our children’s way. This isn’t to say, of course, that we don’t want our children to learn to manage difficult situations—critical thinking and problem-solving are vital life skills. But there are certain situations in life where we want things to go well for our children, and we’ll do whatever we can to pave the way. A perfect example is trying to make your child’s orthodontic experience a breeze.
Today’s kids face plenty of challenges, but orthodontics doesn’t need to be one of them. That’s why the We Make Kids Smile team has put together this list of 5 tips to prepare your child for braces.
Make braces easy with a smooth orthodontic experience.
Almost half of American kids will get braces at some time during their childhood. Kids need braces for various reasons, including crooked teeth, overcrowding, or the presence of malocclusions. Sometimes, problems with teeth are caused when baby teeth fall out too soon, in other cases it can be due to an accident, thumb sucking, or just bad luck. Whatever the reason might be, the fact is, your child will not be going through this experience on their own. The chances are that your youngster will have friends or classmates who have or have had braces.
Even though braces for kids are quite prevalent, there are strategies that parents can take to make the process easier. We have found that parents who leverage these suggestions create a much more positive overall orthodontic experience for their child.
1. Talk to your child about what to expect.
You may find that your child is a bit nervous about having their braces fitted. Your child may be used to short dental visits and quick cleanings, and may be curious about what this particular experience will entail. Parents can help to ease their children’s nervousness by talking about the process.
Many parents have found it helps to share videos of other children getting their braces. YouTube is full of great videos that show how easy your child’s orthodontic experience can be. For example, We are the Davises is a popular YouTube vlog with over 2.67 million subscribers. In one of their videos, young Kayla Davis gets braces for the second time. This video does a great job of showing a smooth process and a positive experience at the orthodontist.
Another popular vlog from the Ohana Adventure, with over 3.43 million subscribers, shares Klai’s orthodontic experience when she gets braces for the first time. Klai is so excited about her braces that it is hard not to want to flash those pearly whites of your own! And if your child shows interest in these vlogs, be sure to share with them a vlog about the process of getting braces removed. YouTube vlogger Kadence Grace has over 5.95k subscribers and shares her experience when she gets those braces removed.
As you watch these videos together, be sure to talk to your child about the facts. Demonstrate calm and confidence as you answer their questions. Your children will pick up on any nervous energy that you exhibit, so the calmer you are, the better.
2. Makes braces day a special occasion.
Your child will need to make some sacrifices after they get their braces. Hard fruits and vegetables, chewy candy, popcorn, chewing gum, and other sugary foods will be largely off-limits for your child until those braces come off. So, consider taking your child out the day of their orthodontic experience and letting them enjoy one last chewy snack before their appointment.
We’ve had many young patients tell us that their parents did something special with them the day they got their braces. Perhaps it was an afternoon at the movies or a day at the shopping mall. We’ve had patients tell us that they have gone mini-golfing or even to an indoor waterpark after their appointment.
If going out isn’t the right thing for you, especially as we are still experiencing government-mandated shutdowns related to COVID-19, perhaps a special day full of quality parent-child at-home activities is a better option. Try to avoid your child just plopping down in front of the television; instead, consider some board games, or maybe make a meal together. Whatever it is that you decide to do, make it fun and memorable. This is a big day for your child, and they will appreciate the dedicated time and attention.
3. Stock up on braces-friendly snacks.
One thing is for sure, and that is that kids don’t like giving up popcorn, chewing gum, and other sugary snacks when they get their braces. Even some healthy foods, such as meat on the bone or hard fruits and vegetables, can be a challenge once those braces go in. Parents can make their child’s orthodontic experience a bit easier by stocking up on some braces-friendly snacks. Some favorite braces-friendly snacks and food items include:
- Frozen pancakes, soft tortillas, and muffins.
- Milkshakes, frozen yogurt, and smoothies.
- Pudding cups, yogurt, and soft cheeses.
- Soft fruit, such as bananas or applesauce.
- Meatballs, lunch meats, and cooked chicken.
- Vegetables that have been softened by steaming or boiling—we’ve found that cheesy broccoli is a fan favorite.
4. Stock up on fun colors of orthodontic wax.
Those first few days adjusting to braces can be a bit uncomfortable. The brackets on the braces can cause sores and irritation inside the mouth. Dental wax can be pressed into the section of the bracket that is irritating. The wax forms a protective layer that helps ease the discomfort caused by the rubbing.
Parents can make it fun and more tolerable for their children by purchasing some dental wax in advance. Thankfully, even dental wax can be fun because it is available in various colors and scents. Let your child pick out dental wax in their favorite colors, and make sure that they have plenty available at home and school.
5. Throw an after-braces party.
When your child finally gets their braces removed, it will be something to celebrate. Not only will they get to enjoy some snacks that they haven’t had in months (if not years), they will have a brilliant new smile that they will want to show their extended family members and friends. Consider a small family and friends gathering where your child can flash that smile.
If socially distancing is still a consideration, consider a Zoom party. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends will all be excited to see your child’s progress. If you thought to take photos along the way, be prepared to show them at the celebration.
Contact your Waldorf or Prince Frederick MD dentist to create a great orthodontic experience.
The We Make Kids Smile team is more than happy to help you talk to your child about what to expect during their orthodontic experience. We have years of experience preparing children for braces, and it is no wonder that parents contact us when searching for that “pediatric dentist near me.” After all, parents want a pediatric dentist that they can trust.
What are you waiting for? Contact our Waldorf office at (301) 206-1993 or our Prince Frederick office at (410) 307-2882. We look forward to your call.