Every year, millions of children between the ages of 8 and 18 will deal with orthodonture in the form of spacers, retainers, and wire braces. When your child is young and their teeth are crooked or misaligned, you either know early on that they'll need correction or you try not to worry about it until you see how the adult teeth come in.
However, once those permanent teeth are all fully grown, in many cases there's no denying that your child will spend a few years with corrective orthodonture.
You are likely to have already been hearing suggestions along these lines from your dentist and you may have already gone to see a specialist to confirm the recommendation and what you already know to be true: your child is going to need braces.
Unfortunately, this isn't exactly happy news for any family. Whether or not you had braces of your own as a child, you certainly knew a few kids that did and the trouble to be had with soreness, rubber bands, and dietary restrictions is no one's idea of fun.
But cooperation and a desire to have more functional teeth is vital to gaining the right benefit from costly and troublesome braces so... how do you break it to your child?
Today we're here to talk about discussing braces with your child in a way that will help them accept it as a beneficial challenge instead of some cosmic punishment.
Starting the Conversation: They Probably Already Know
If you've been wracking your brain for how to start this difficult conversation, don't forget that your child is sharp and aware of their own mouth and the responses from their dentist. Most children who need braces already know or suspect it from a fairly early age.
All they have to do is compare their teeth to those of their friends and on television. Even more importantly, it's hard to miss when your teeth don't bite completely through sandwiches, scrape cheeks while chewing, and constantly need to be flossed in weird ways.
Being Honest: Don't Downplay the Downsides
The problem, of course, is that children have heard all the same horror stories you have about braces from their peers and media. They may be afraid of needing braces or worried that the braces will be even worse than having crooked teeth.
Pretending like braces are going to be the best thing ever is going to ring pretty false in their ears. Instead, get on their team and be honest about the things they're worried about. A dose of practicality is a better nightmare-slayer than any story.
Be honest about the fact that it could be uncomfortable, will require more brushing, and will definitely limit their meal options for a while, but that many children just like them get through the whole braces experience every year and that it's not as bad as they're afraid of.
Making it Easier: Emphasize the Benefits
While it's important to be honest to help your child deal with their perfectly justified fears of braces, your child will also need a lot of encouragement, support, and help thinking positively about the whole situation.
Make sure to emphasize the benefits of having braces including not having to deal with all the troubles of crooked or misaligned teeth. Don't forget to mention that braces are also a great opportunity to personalize with their favorite colors for the brackets, wires, or both.
Going In as a Team
Finally, make it clear to your child that you are their partner in this ordeal. When they go into the orthodontist, you will come with them. If they ever need help with rubber bands, you will be there for them. If their gums get sore, the two of you will work together to think up tasty soft-food meals or delicious meal-smoothies.
Make it clear that they are the superhero in your dynamic duo and will need to do a lot of the 'heavy lifting' in dealing with their braces, but you will always be right there to help them, support them, and think of interesting ways to deal with any braces-related challenges that occur in the future.
Talking to your child about braces may not be easy, but you can come out the other side both with a better understanding of your child and a strong teamwork plan to take on braces together. For more information about family cosmetic dentistry, contact us today!