As a parent, it can be grueling to see your child in pain and discomfort after they get braces. And for many kids, the adjustment period is the hardest part of all. Before you take your child to the orthodontist and periodontist, learn how you can help your child cope when they finally get their braces:
1. Prepare for dietary changes
When your child gets braces, there are going to be a lot of changes in their diet, as well as the way they eat. During the first few days, the orthodontist will recommend eating only soft food, such as soup, smoothies, and mashed potatoes. After the initial adjustment period, they will have to change the way they eat in one way or another. For example, instead of biting into an apple as is, they have to cut it up into bite-sized pieces before eating.
Perhaps the most difficult dietary change is avoiding foods that can damage the wires, bands, or brackets in braces. These foods include many child favorites such as popcorn, chewy candy, gum, pretzels, and hard crackers, among others. With that in mind, you need to mentally prepare your child about the food changes that are about to come. To make it easier for them, encourage the rest of the family to avoid eating the banned foods in the house so that your child doesn’t feel like they’re missing out.
2. Help them with the pain
Sometimes, the initial adjustment to braces can be an incredibly painful process. Even afterward, braces can scrape against the inside of your child’s cheeks and cause pain.
To help with the pain, give them a bowl of ice cream or place a cold compress against their cheek. If that doesn’t work, give them a painkiller that’s appropriate for their age. Dealing with the pain is a great way to help your child adjust to life with braces. More importantly, it will help them continue with their everyday tasks with little to no discomfort.
3. Give them plenty of reassurance
One of the biggest problems that kids have with braces is feeling insecure. They are usually afraid of looking different and having their peers make fun of them. And if you remember your elementary or middle-school days, kids under 12 can be pretty ruthless.
To combat your child’s anxiety about wearing braces, listen to their concerns, and provide plenty of reassurance. If they are afraid of getting bullied, remind them why they are getting braces in the first place, and that is to have a great smile. Moreover, tell them that they are not the only ones wearing braces. Lots of kids have them, and their classmates have worn or will probably wear braces in the future as well.
4. Involve your child
Explain to your child why getting braces will be good for them and make them feel that they are part of the decision. In this way, they don’t think that they are not being forced to get braces, but rather being given the option to improve their teeth.
Involve them in the decision-making process and allow them to choose among options whenever applicable. More importantly, educate your child about the process of getting braces and encourage them to ask questions. If you don’t have the answers to their inquiries, have the orthodontist address their concerns during your initial appointment.
5. Monitor their oral hygiene practices
Having braces requires more thorough cleaning due to the wires and brackets on your child’s teeth. That said, orient your child about the new oral hygiene routine that they have to do to keep their teeth clean and healthy.
During the adjustment period, see if your child brushes their teeth as they should, but don’t hover too much. If they are slacking a bit, remind them that their teeth need more care than before getting braces, and what can happen if they don’t brush properly.
6. Give rewards
Wearing braces is often complicated and painful, especially for younger children. Hence, giving them rewards from time to time can make the journey less miserable. Aside from braces-safe food, offer non-food treats such as a new toy, a trip to the mall, or an extra ten minutes to play at the park.
Children under 12 might not fully understand why they have to get braces. Hence, they can be less on board with the idea of it. As a parent, you want the best for your child’s teeth. So if it’s time to get them braces, you also have to know how to support your child during this difficult adjustment period, starting with the tips mentioned above.