What to Know When Your Tween Needs Braces

Getting your tween through braces requires a little dedication

Your tween can get through the braces phase with a little help from you.
Help your tween through braces by providing the supplies she'll need and by keeping orthodontic appointments. Photo: Hector Landaeta, freeimages.com

During the tween years your child may have to go into braces. Wearing braces isn't always fun, and some tweens dread the thought of them but what your child will gain from the treatment will make it all worthwhile in the end. If your tween needs braces, there are a few things you should know. The advice below will help you understand what's required, and how you can help your tween. 

Helping Your Tween Through Braces

It's Only Temporary: Your tween may hate the thought of having to wear braces, but he or she should know that this is a temporary phase.

Most tweens are only in braces for a few short years. Of course, that may seem like an eternity to your child. Remind your tween that many of her schoolmates are also wearing braces, and that before long she won't even remember that she has them. 

Watch Out for Certain Foods: One of the biggest adjustments you and your tween will have to make will have to do with food -- specifically what foods to avoid while your child is in braces. Your orthodontist will likely provide you with a long list of foods to avoid, mainly sugary, chewy foods like candy, toffee, gummy candies and such. You'll also have to avoid foods that could break an orthodontic wire, such as popcorn, nuts, or even corn on the cob. Be sure you follow your doctor's instructions as best as you can. Failing to do so may mean making an unscheduled visit to the orthodontic office to fix a broken bracket or wire. 

Don't Miss Orthodontic Appointments: Busy families will have a hard time scheduling even more appointments onto their calendars, but it's important that your tween make every orthodontic appointment.

Missing appointments may mean your child has to stay in braces even longer than anticipated, and your child's progress needs to be monitored and his treatment adjusted periodically. Most doctor's will work with you to find a time that's convenient for everyone involved. You should know that orthodontic appointments are not a substitute for regular dentist appointments.

Your tween should still see his or her dentist regularly. 

Stock Up on Supplies: There are a number of supplies you'll want to make sure you always have on hand. Be sure you stock up on essentials such as wax, orthodontic floss, orthodontic tooth brushes, mouthwash and orthodontic rubber bands. It's also a good idea to purchase a water pick device, to help your tween reach spots that floss might not be able to reach. Be sure your tween keeps a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and rubber bands in his school locker, for emergency situations. 

Follow Doctor Instructions: Having braces is a bit of a lifestyle change. You and your tween will need to be committed to following doctor's orders all the time. Make sure you both understand what your tween needs to do in-between appointments. Your responsibilities may include brushing three times a day, flossing everyday, water picking everyday, going to your regular dentist appointments, wearing headgear, and avoiding certain foods and sugar drinks. Think of fun ways you can remind your tween to stay on top of her oral hygiene.

 You might make a chart together that helps remind her of what to do and when, or you could find fun ways to reward her for sticking with her orthodontic program. 

Be Sympathetic: Your child will likely go through some ups and downs while in braces. Some treatments can be painful, such as when wires are tightened or new brackets are put on. Be patient and try to help your tween get through it as easily as possible. Your doctor may recommend that you give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever before certain treatments, or that your tween avoid certain foods after wires are tightened. Be prepared to adjust your meal plans if your child's teeth or gums are sore -- and offer cold compresses if your tween is really uncomfortable. 

Celebrate When it's Over: One day your tween's braces will come off and that will be an event to celebrate. Be sure you and your tween plan something fun to do that day. You may decide to go out for a celebratory lunch, or just spend the day together. 

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