Orthodontic treatment is almost like a rite of passage and even though many of your child’s friends may already be wearing braces or Invisalign Teen, the thought of kicking off the process can be a little intimidating to kids. Do braces hurt? Will I talk funny with clear aligners in my mouth? How long will orthodontic treatment take? There are probably a million questions and unknowns swirling around in your child’s head. While Dr. Rishi Kothari and the 914 Smiles team will answer all of these questions for your kiddo and ensure they feel informed about the process, there are still things parents can do that will help when it comes to getting kids ready for braces or clear aligners. Here are some of our best tips on how to do just that:
1. Schedule Your Child’s First Orthodontic Evaluation by Age Seven
Kids should be evaluated by a certified specialist in orthodontics like Dr. Kothari at the first sign of orthodontic issues or no later than the age of seven, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. In most cases, this will begin an observational period where Dr. Kothari will keep an eye on their growth and development over the years and lets you know when it’s the perfect time to start treatment. Every so often, if he spots an emerging issue, he may recommend using appliances to guide the growth of their jaws or erupting permanent teeth in order to make treatment in their teen years easier, faster and less costly. Yet, another often overlooked benefit of these early visits is that kids get comfortable at the practice. They meet the team, get to know and trust Dr. Kothari and become familiar with the sights and sounds of the office. When the time comes for them to get braces, it doesn’t feel scary.
2. Discuss Your Expectations and Your Child or Teen’s Treatment Options
Getting kids ready for braces or clear aligners starts by ensuring you’re both on the same page. Honestly, with the modern treatments we use at 914 Smiles, orthodontic treatment isn’t going to interfere too much with their everyday life but it does require some commitment. With braces, your child or teen will have to practice outstanding oral hygiene, wear a mouthguard when playing sports and avoid foods that could damage their brackets and wires, such as anything really hard, chewy or sticky. If they go with clear aligners, they’ll need to wear their aligners for about 22 hours per day for the best results and make sure they don’t lose them when they take them out to eat and brush and floss. Going over their responsibilities and your expectations from the get-go can help set the stage for success.
Talking about your child or teen’s different treatment options and considering their lifestyle can also make the teeth-straightening process easier. At 914 Smiles, we offer metal braces, clear braces and clear aligners all for the same price so you can choose the treatment that works best for your child and your family and not base it solely on the cost. If your kiddo likes the idea of having braces and showing off their personality with different color rubber bands, metal braces could be your best bet. If, on the other hand, they prefer not to draw attention to their smile, maybe clear braces or aligners are better suited to them. When treatment works for them, it can help ease the transition and ensure they’re willing to put in the necessary effort.
3. Tell Them What to Expect During the Braces or Clear Aligner Procedure
The best way to get your kids ready for braces or aligners is to explain what will happen during the process. This especially holds true for kids getting braces put on. Reassure them that the bonding procedure is painless and there are absolutely no needles involved. Dr. Kothari and our team will help explain the procedure in more detail. If your child still has questions, encourage them to write them down and bring them to the appointment so we can make sure we address all of their concerns. Knowing what to expect is really helpful for alleviating any jitters.
4. Go Shopping Together for Supplies
Another great tip on how to prepare kids for braces or aligners is to stock up on everything you’ll need in advance and get them involved in the process. You can start by brainstorming some braces-friendly recipes that you can make together. Since teeth may feel sensitive after getting braces put on or popping in aligners for the first time, fill the pantry and fridge with soft foods and cold drinks like yogurt, soup, steamed veggies, soft-cooked meats, mashed potatoes, smoothies and ice cream. While you’re at the store, you may also want to pick up a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste, a high-quality toothbrush, orthodontic flossers or floss threaders, interproximal brushes, orthodontic wax and an over-the-counter pain reliever. The transition is a breeze when you have everything you need, when you need it.
5. Learn the Ins and Outs of Handling Orthodontic Emergencies
A true orthodontic emergency is extremely rare but there can be occasional minor issues that can crop up during treatment. Thankfully, most of them can be managed at home until you’re able to get in for an appointment. Check out the tips we’ve compiled on dealing with everything from a loose bracket to irritation. This way, you can jump in and help if your child or teen experiences any discomfort.
6. Keep Their Eye on the End Result
When getting kids ready for braces or clear aligner treatment, make it a priority to focus their attention on the outcome and the amazing smile they’ll have when treatment is complete. It can give them a lot of motivation and encourage them to stick with their end of the treatment bargain (i.e., brushing and flossing, wearing rubber bands as instructed, keeping track of clear aligners, etc.). If you have a fantastic smile thanks to your own orthodontic treatment, tell them about your experience and how the confidence you gained from it has helped you. You can also get crafty and create a poster featuring some of their favorite celebrities who wore braces or just look up before and after braces photos online. If they have a hard day, help refocus them on the outcome.
7. Don’t Overlook the Power of Positive Reinforcement
Hey, we’re not saying bribe your kids but positive reinforcement is a great tool when preparing your child for braces and getting them to follow the orthodontist’s instructions. Praise them when they have a good appointment or they reach a certain milestone and let them know you’re proud of them. You can also try rewards. It doesn’t have to be something fancy or expensive. It could be as simple as spending time together at the park after a week of brushing and flossing like a pro.
8. Ask for Help
If nothing seems to work and your child is extremely anxious about starting treatment or refusing to cooperate during the teeth-straightening process, ask us for help. We can offer you some more pointers and chat with your kiddo about why something, like wearing their aligners for the correct amount of time or caring for their braces, will produce the best results. We’ve got your back, parents!
Hopefully our guide to getting kids ready for braces or clear aligners will help you start your child or teen’s treatment off on a positive note. If you’re interested in Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown or Briarcliff Manor braces or aligners, book a free consultation at 914 Smiles today!