While orthodontic treatment is faster and more comfortable than it was in the past, it’s still a commitment and some children and teens may feel apprehensive about the unknown. As an orthodontist in Coquitlam and Vancouver, I’ve seen firsthand how a little preparation can really start the process off on the right foot and pave the way for success. Here are some tips on how to prepare your child for braces or Invisalign:
Visit an Orthodontist Early
The best age for braces varies by child, however, the American and Canadian Associations of Orthodontists recommend parents schedule their little one’s first visit to the orthodontist no later than seven-years-old. Not only can we detect problems early and monitor the growth and development of your child’s teeth and jaws, we can also develop a rapport with them. By the time they’re ready to start orthodontic treatment, they’ll feel comfortable at the office, which can go a long way in alleviating any anxiety.
Familiarize Yourself with the Options
You know your child better than anyone else. Discuss all treatment options with Dr. Lee in order to choose the one that will work best for your kid’s diagnosis and lifestyle. Are they dedicated to their oral hygiene? Metal braces could work fine. Do they play sports or an instrument? Invisalign may be your best bet. Are they shy and self-conscious? Perhaps an esthetic option like clear ceramic braces, lingual braces or Invisalign will be a good fit.
Demystify the Braces Procedure
Prior to the start of treatment, sit down with your child and explain exactly what they can expect and address their Invisalign or braces questions. Let them know getting braces put on and taken off is painless and no needles are involved. If they’ll be starting Invisalign treatment, they’ll simply need to wear removable, clear plastic aligners. Encourage them to make a list of their concerns to bring to their appointment with the orthodontist. We team up with parents at Evergreen Orthodontics to ensure our young patients know what will happen every step of the way.
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Show them Before and After Pictures
When your child can visualize the end result of braces, it can make wearing them easier and passing up gum and popcorn might seem like less of a hardship. If you had braces yourself and now enjoy the benefits of a stellar smile, share your own experience. For kids or teens who choose Invisalign, technology will allow them to see a visual representation of what their teeth will look like after treatment, which serves as serious motivation.
Braces require some commitment and it’s important to outline your expectations at the start of treatment. Discuss the financial investment you’re making and how your child will need to avoid certain foods, maintain their oral hygiene and attend all of their appointments. For those who opt for Invisalign Teen, the changes to habits are much less intrusive since patients can eat what they want and their oral hygiene regimen will stay the same but they will need to keep track of each set of aligners for a week or two (no putting them in napkins while eating!).
Get Your Supplies Ready
Right before they get their braces on, purchase some floss threaders, dental wax and any other supplies they’ll need. Stock the fridge and freezer with braces-friendly treats. Parents of Invisalign patients get to skip these steps since they’ll be able to take out their aligners to eat, brush and floss. Your child’s mouth may be sensitive for a few days after getting braces or Invisalign, add soup, smoothie ingredients, ice pops, yogurt and other cold and/or soft foods to your shopping list. To get them involved, you can even go through some cookbooks together and choose a few recipes to make that will be easy on the mouth. The promise of a milkshake for dinner the first night can’t hurt either.
Reward Diligent Oral Behaviour
Positive reinforcement can help to solidify good braces-related habits. Plan out a reward system for when they keep up excellent oral hygiene, attend appointments, wear their Invisalign aligners and follow the orthodontist’s instructions. It could be anything from seeing a movie to getting to choose the next family activity.
This is the most important tip. Just being there and listening to your child if they feel anxious about orthodontic treatment or need a little encouragement along the way is key. Take on the role of cheerleader. If you never had orthodontic treatment, try to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of life with braces or Invisalign so you can be there with a helping hand when necessary.
Think your child or teen is ready for orthodontic treatment? Book your free consultation today at our Coquitlam or Vancouver orthodontic clinic and we’ll help you prepare your child for braces or Invisalign. At Evergreen Orthodontics, we believe in offering attentive care and educating our patients, regardless of age, on the process and their options so they can make informed choices and start treatment with confidence.