Explaining orthodontia to your children

It's important for children to be on board with their orthodontia plan.

Ah, braces. Over the years, they have become a rite of passage for kids and teens on their journey to adulthood, shaping countless smiles along the way. Despite being commonplace in modern society, braces still bear the reputation of causing anxiety amongst those who wear them, thanks in large part to associated mouth pain and social stigma. Most adults recognize the value of orthodontia in facilitating a healthy bite pattern and esthetic smile, but it can be more challenging for kids and teens to understand the value of wearing braces.

Smiling child with bracesOrthodontia can help with proper development of tooth and jaw structure.

Opening the conversation
When first discussing the topic of orthodontia with your children, it's always helpful to start by asking what they know about braces. Do any of their friends have braces? What's been their experience? Can they describe some of the potential benefits of having braces, as well as any challenges they might face?

Asking these questions provides a frame of reference for any objections or misunderstandings your child might have when considering orthodontia. It often surprises parents to hear that certain kids and teens are actually in favor of getting braces; in this instance, they won't need to "sell" the idea to their child.

Answering questions and validating concerns
Moving forward in the discussion, it helps to validate your child's feelings about orthodontia while also addressing any misconceptions they might have about the process. It's OK if they don't have all the facts, and as a parent, you don't necessarily need to have answers. Their orthodontist, or even the family dentist, can help in this regard. Objections commonly revolve around inconvenience (e.g., not being able to eat certain foods, such as popcorn), discomfort, and perceived social stigma. For teenagers, especially, the last objection — social stigma — can prove to be a real sticking point. When addressing your child's concerns, keep in mind that while adults might see orthodontia as a temporary inconvenience, a couple of years can seem like a long time to kids and teenagers.

A final piece of advice when discussing orthodontia with your children is to make sure all of their questions are eventually answered. It's important to reiterate the reasons why orthodontia might be a good option for them, and helps to point out that they will have some control in the process. Patients tend to enjoy choosing new colors for the elastic bands in their braces during visits, and, if age-appropriate, children can often manage the task of getting to their regularly scheduled appointments on their own. No matter how independent your children might be, it also never hurts to know they have their parents' support, even if it's as simple as buying their favorite flavor of ice cream to celebrate having braces put on.

Teenager with ice cream cone.Chilled, soft foods like ice cream can help with orthodontia-related discomfort.

If your children are in need of regular dental care in addition to orthodontia, or if you have a more specific dental concern, please contact City Dentists to schedule an appointment. Our friendly dentists and dental hygienists are enthusiastic to help you achieve your best oral health. We are located in modern, state-of-the-art facilities close to the Wellington train station, and offer a range of convenient appointment times.

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