Bracing Yourself for Bracing Your Kids

For tweens and teenagers, braces are a rite of passage, and the resulting beautiful and healthy smile makes the process all worth it. But what about the parents? What should parents of orthodontic patients do to prepare themselves and their kids for treatment?

Here are five ways to gear up, and get the most out of your child’s orthodontic treatment:

1. Encourage your child to follow the orthodontist’s instructions carefully

Some people choose to have their teeth straightened by a dentist, but that’s not the best choice. Dentists are excellent at covering a wide range of general and hygiene-related issues, however, orthodontic specialists go through 4,000 additional hours of formal training at an accredited university or hospital after dental school. During those 2-3 additional years of training, they learn to use the latest tools and technology, and gain deeper knowledge to remedy misaligned teeth and jaws.

Because orthodontic specialists are experts, it’s important to listen to their guidance and make sure your child is following the treatment plan. It’s smart to take notes during the first few visits to make sure your child knows and remembers what is expected of them. For example, eating foods that are off limits can delay treatment deadlines drastically; reinforcing this at home, can help your child understand the risks, so they avoid unnecessary issues or pain.

2. Use it as an opportunity to teach independence

Getting orthodontic treatment can be a great coming-of-age experience as teenagers learn how to take care of themselves. Help your child understand the investment you’re making in their health and how important it is that they take diligent care of that investment. You can also have them keep track of when their next appointment is, how often they need to change their appliances, etc.

3. Talk to other parents about their experience

It can be helpful to get a personal recommendation about any doctor your child will be seeing, so ask around to see which orthodontic specialist in your area has a good reputation. You’ll want to make sure you’re seeing an orthodontic specialist and member of the Texas Association of Orthodontists (TAO). You’ll know you’re in good hands because members of TAO are accredited specialists who stay on top of the latest discoveries and technologies and will give your child the best care.

4. Create an orthodontic safety kit for your child

Braces can take a lot of care and come with some accessories, like extra rubber bands and lip balm that your child may need at any time, frequently at school. Creating an on-the-go kit for your kid will be extremely helpful especially right after an appointment when your child may experience some discomfort or a headache and taking ibuprofen can help them get through it. It’s also helpful to have some orthodontic wax and floss picks in case they have an unexpected issue with wires or food.

Additionally, you may want to include the phone number or business card of your orthodontist in the kit in case of an emergency. It will likely be unnecessary, but it would be helpful to a school nurse or another parent, for example, if something were to happen and they needed to contact your doctor.

5. Get the most out of your appointments

Going to regular orthodontic visits can be tough, but it’s an important investment in your child’s health. Have your child bring their homework or a tablet to keep them occupied during their appointment, especially if you have to take them out of school.

While starting orthodontic treatment may seem daunting, it will all be worth it when your child experiences their new smile for the first time. Consult with a TAO orthodontist if you have additional questions.