The parent’s guide on what to expect

Children need braces for any number of reasons – crooked, crowded, or overlapping teeth, an overbite, or an underbite.

It’s possible that your kid is excited at the thought of having braces, seeing it as an important pre-teen symbol. It’s also possible that your kid is dreading getting them.  Children are notoriously self-conscious and, as a parent, you want to give them the high quality medical support they need, as well as emotional support. This article will help you do that.

Before we dive in, we’d like to remind you that if you’re even thinking about getting braces for your child, you’ll need to consider an orthodontist. We can provide you with a list of the ones that operate in and around your neighbourhood if you click here.

1. Choosing an orthodontist

There are several factors to keep in mind when selecting your orthodontist.

  • Find one your child is comfortable with. You might like a certain orthodontist, but you’re not the patient here. Your child is more likely to listen to instructions and come to terms with having braces if they like the orthodontist in question.
  • Find an orthodontist whose clinic is close to your home or your child’s school. You’ll be making multiple visits to the clinic over the next few years. Finding one close by will save you a lot of trouble. Just a reminder that our specially developed smart tools can help you out with that. Click here.
  • Know that there’s no ‘right’ age to see the orthodontist. Your kid could be 6, 10 or even 16. However, most orthodontists believe the best time for that first visit is once your child’s permanent teeth start setting in.  That’s the time issues like overcrowding or uneven bites will become apparent. Note that starting the process early doesn’t necessarily mean your kid will be prescribed braces straight away.

2. The first visit to the orthodontist

If your child is very young, reassure them that they will feel no pain. If your child is older, have a discussion with them about why you feel a visit to the orthodontist is necessary. During the first consultation, your orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth, mouth and jaw. They will ask if your child has trouble chewing or swallowing. They may also take X-rays to see the current positioning of the teeth. Once your orthodontist decides that your child does need braces, you can move on to the next step.

3. Choosing the right braces

There are many different types of braces and your orthodontist will guide you towards choosing the right one for your child. Most kids require braces with brackets, wires, and rubber bands. If your kid is super self-conscious, you can consider clear, removable braces or lingual braces (that go behind the teeth). But keep in mind that fun, colorful brackets and bands are also available these days – most kids love them. Your kid should have a say in what sort of braces they get. Make sure that you don’t leave them out of the conversation. Three people need to be involved in deciding what braces your child is going to get – the doctor, you and, of course, your child.

4. Looking after braces

Parents need to be vigilant that their child is maintaining their braces properly. It’s easy for food to get stuck in wired braces, so it’s really important for kids who wear them to keep their teeth clean. This is often an uphill battle for parents so make sure you explain to your kid why they need to brush and floss regularly. Chances are, once they understand, they’ll keep it up by themselves and require only minimal supervision from you. Regular dental cleanings and checkups, as well as frequent cavity checks, are also a must.

Unfortunately, certain foods need to be avoided. Popcorn, hard and stick candy, and gum can damage braces, while sugary sodas and desserts can contribute to tooth decay. If your kid has a clear plastic aligner, get them to remove it before meals – otherwise it might get stained.

5. Providing emotional support

Be prepared for the fact that your kid might hate the thought of getting braces. While it’s important not to give into them, you also want to be supportive and help make the process easier. Remember how self-conscious you were at thirteen? Talk to your kids about the long-term benefits of braces. This is kind of mean, but don’t hesitate to show them photos of adults with terrible teeth. Children react to visual stimuli. Reassure them that their braces will be “cool” and bolster their self-esteem as much as possible. Keep them involved in the decision-making process at every step of the way. Ready to see that orthodontist now? Click here.