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For most children, the process of going through braces, if they need them, is seen as a right of passage, something that has to be endured until they come out the other side with a smile they can be confident with. This can hold a lot of weight for kids, especially when going through it at a turbulent time, such as adolescence.

As a parent you undoubtedly want your children to be happy, so equipping yourself with the knowledge and know-how to best support your child through this right of passage is very important. Let’s look at some ways you can help prepare your child both mentally and physically, to ensure they remain that happy, care-free innocence for as long as possible.

Why Your Child Might Need Braces

Fully understanding why your child needs braces and what the braces are specifically targeting for your child will give you the best chance of fully explaining this to your child. It could be that they have too many teeth which has caused them to be crooked, they have an underbite or overbite or they have another condition which makes it difficult to chew. Explain to your child that the ultimate goal is to achieve a healthy smile, one that allows their jaw to function properly enables them to obtain good oral hygiene and gives them the all-important confidence they need to get through their childhood and adolescent years. 

What to Expect as Your Child Prepares for Braces

In most cases, once your child has lost all their ‘baby’ teeth, they can start orthodontic treatment. In some severe cases, orthodontists may feel that a child needs braces before this stage, but this is very rare. It is possible, however, for your child to start braces treatment around the age of 7 or 8 but the average age is usually around 12 or 13 when the child’s mouth and jaws are still growing.

There are various stages in the process and equipping yourself with the knowledge of what to expect means you can fully support your child:

  • Step 1 Consultation – consists of an initial consultation to see if your child’s teeth and gums are healthy enough for braces and to discuss which options of braces are available. At this stage, you will discuss costs and payment options.
  • Step 2 Fitting – once the braces have been decided on, this is the stage in the process that will take the longest. Firstly, the orthodontist will thoroughly clean your child’s teeth, then the teeth will be conditioned so that the brackets can adhere to them. Dental cement is then used to stick the brackets on, and the wire is placed through and fitted to the brackets. The wire is then tightened to the right tension to ensure optimal movement of their teeth.
  • Step 3 Care Advice – your orthodontist will provide you with all the information and tools for your child to properly care for their braces, including how to brush and floss, how many times, and what foods to avoid.
  • Step 4 Appointments – due to the slow nature of the realigning process, many orthodontist visits are needed, to check that your teeth and jaw are on the right path. Adjustments will need to be made every 3 to 4 weeks, where the wire of the brace is tightened to ensure the teeth continue to move in the right direction. At these appointments, the orthodontist will also check on the health of your child’s teeth and gums and give advice where needed.
  • Step 5 Removal – braces can be removed anywhere from around a year up to 3 years depending on the severity of the case. At this stage the orthodontist will carefully remove the wire, then the brackets that are bonded to your teeth and a good cleaning will also take place to remove as much of the dental cement from the teeth as possible.
  • Step 6 Aftercare – after removal your child will have a retainer fitted for them to wear for as long and as frequent as the orthodontist suggests. This is to ensure that the teeth remain straight, and the jaw stays in its new position. A mould will be taken from your child’s teeth, this will then be sent off and the retainer made. 

How to Prepare Your Child Emotionally for Braces 

Communicate Openly.

Start by having an open and honest conversation with your child about the need for braces. Explain the benefits of orthodontic treatment, such as improved oral health and a confident smile. Address any concerns or fears they may have and reassure them that many kids go through this process. 

Encourage a Positive Mindset.

Highlighting the exciting aspects of getting braces, such as the various colourful bands they can choose, or the fun of tracking the progress of their teeth alignment. Emphasise that this journey is a temporary phase with long-lasting benefits.

Share Experiences.

If you or other family members have had braces, share your experiences. Discuss the positive outcomes and how the process ultimately contributed to a healthier and more attractive smile. Knowing that others have been through the same journey can be reassuring.

Give Autonomy Where Possible.

Empower your child by involving them in decision-making. Allow them to choose the colour of their bands or let them pick out fun toothbrush and accessories for their oral care routine. This sense of control can make the experience more enjoyable.

Preparing Your Child Physically for Braces

Establish an Oral Hygiene Routine.

Before getting braces, it’s important to establish a strong oral hygiene routine. Emphasise the importance of brushing and flossing to prevent any potential issues during orthodontic treatment. Consider investing in an orthodontic toothbrush and floss threaders to make the process easier.

Stock up on Soft Foods.

After getting braces, your child’s mouth may be sensitive, and they will need to eat liquid or softer foods initially. Stock up on a variety of nutritious and soft foods like yoghurt, mashed potatoes, soups, and smoothies to ensure they have plenty of options during the initial adjustment period. 

Talk About Pain Management.

Discuss pain management strategies with your child. Over-the-counter pain relievers, orthodontic wax for any potential irritation, and cold compresses can help alleviate discomfort during the adjustment phase. 

Orthodontic Check-Ups.

Schedule an initial orthodontic check-up to address any existing dental issues and ensure your child’s teeth are in optimal condition before starting treatment. This helps set the stage for a smoother orthodontic journey. Then prepare your child for the ongoing check-ups and adjustments and explain why these are necessary. 

How a Specialist Led Orthodontists in Darwen Can Help

Braces can be a successful tool, not only in correcting tooth and jaw misalignments but in boosting confidence too, which in our children we want to nurture and grow. If you would like more information, your expert orthodontist in Darwen is here to help.

Darwen Orthodontics is a specialist-led orthodontist in Darwen with a team of friendly and passionate professionals who work toward providing the best orthodontic services for children and adults. Contact us today and book a free consultation and start your child’s journey toward their most beautiful smile.

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