Parent Resource

Helping Your Child Through Orthodontic Treatment

by Lucy Wyndham

Around 4.5 million Americans – most of whom are children – wear braces, and if your child has just had a new set placed, they may be a tad worried about the changes this may involve. Suddenly, biting into a juicy apple may be difficult, and having to go for regular adjustments may be a pain. With a little gentle guidance, you can make the process much easier on your child. Honesty, education, and a little humor go a long way, as you will glean from the following tips.

The Scientific Approach

Before your children have braces fitted, pre-orthodontic work may be necessary, even before they enter their teens. Sometimes the problem is that teeth simply don’t have enough space to emerge in the right position (a palate expander will then be necessary). All these mysteries that lie beneath the gum can be revealed to your child with the magic of an X-ray. Children are often amazed to see everything that is occurring in their mouths – including teeth that need further space before they can push through the gum. Xrays are a great educational tool that can raise instant awareness of why pre-orthodontics, braces or Invisalign, are required.

Explaining The Consequences Of Leaving Things As They Are

It is important for your children to understand that braces are much more than accessory worn to create a beautiful smile. They are often used to correct a misaligned bite, to close gaps, or to widen space so that teeth are not too close together. Your child’s dentist should explain why braces are important (children will often pay close attention to what the dentist says). The dentist should ideally explain that when teeth are too close together, for instance, they can be harder to clean, and it is therefore easier for cavities to form.

Making A Food List

If your child has already been fitted with braces, then from the word go, you will need to make a list of foods that are orthodontics friendly. Whole crunchy fruit should be avoided, but if your child loves apples and carrots, simple cutting them into small pieces will do the trick. In general, children need to know that they’ll have to favor softer food to protect braces from damage. The consequences of failing to do so can include damage to braces and a need for readjustment – which tends to cause tooth soreness until teeth get accustomed to the new setting. Sugary foods are another bugbear, since they can stick to unseen parts of braces and result in cavities. They can also cause unsightly staining in the parts of the tooth which are not covered by a bracket.

Helping With Dental Cleaning

Food can sometimes ‘hide’ behind unseen parts of braces – including between the wire and teeth and around the brackets. Cleaning teeth can now become considerably more cumbersome than in the past, but it is important to encourage your child to stick to their routine, even if this means brushing your teeth alongside them (teens may not be too keen on this idea). Get them on your side by investing in a cool electric toothbrush that will make the job a lot easier. These include waterpik sets (which brush and floss at once), sonic toothbrushes (which provide over 30,000 brush strokes per second), and brushes with different cleaning modes and intensities. If your child takes to their toothbrush, daily cleaning can seem much less like a chore.

If your child is about to have pre-orthodontics or braces placed, reassure them that although life may change, it will not be forever. Show them amazing ‘before and after’ pictures so they can see the great gift that braces are. Make it easier on them by providing foods they can eat, and give due importance to cleaning teeth and braces thoroughly – especially in hard-to-reach places. …