Wearing braces is something many of us go through to achieve that even, attractive smile that wins hearts and jobs, and gives you a good feeling when looking in the mirror after brushing your teeth. But children can’t think far into the future, and are often only concerned about what braces mean to them here and now. Worries about whether having braces put on will hurt, what their friends will say, and what they’ll have to do to look after them, can cloud their minds. Preparing your child for wearing braces involves listening to them, acknowledging their anxieties, giving them information and advice, and helping them feel positive about the experience.
Before fixing braces to your child’s teeth, your orthodontist will set up an appointment to assess what work needs she needs to do. Take the opportunity to ask her about the procedure, and encourage your child to ask her own questions and voice any worries she might have. She might be surprised to find that she won’t need a shot to have braces fitted, and that there are different colored bands, so she can choose a new color each time she visits. If your child is a little shy, write down her questions before you go and pretend they’re yours.
Children are very sensitive to what their school friends say, and often have a strong desire to fit in with everyone else. Getting singled out and made fun of for wearing braces is traumatic, and your child’s fears about this are real. Talk her through how other children might react and how she can deal with their remarks, to calm her worries. Ignoring what others say and walking away is one strategy, and simply laughing at the person doing the teasing can also help. Identifying a trusted adult to talk to if she feels things are getting out of hand is another option.
Emphasizing the long term benefits of having braces is something many parents do, but your child will also feel happier about them if she has some short term rewards to look forward. A braces party or sleepover puts a positive slant on the event, and making a list of favorite sloppy foods to eat after the braces have been put on or tightened can help your child feel special. Inquire at your orthodontists about reward schemes, or plan your own, such as a trips as prizes after a certain amount of visits.
Wearing braces isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t last forever and it’s worth it in the end. Encouraging your child to feel calm and happy about wearing braces will help her to look after them properly and enter her adult years confident about her smile.