How to Help Your Teen Adjust to Wearing Braces

Published by Dr. Charles Gemmi

A Board Certified Orthodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, Dr. Charles Gemmi has been a practicing orthodontist with Orthodontics Limited since 2000 and is a member of the teaching staff at Einstein Medical Center. Orthodontics Limited is a Diamond+ Provider of Invisalign in Philadelphia and Hatboro, PA.

Getting braces is a common rite of passage, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get through. While today’s braces are more comfortable than the braces you remember, they still get need getting used to. If your teen is having trouble adjusting to wearing braces, there are ways you can help ease the process for them.

Here are some easy ways to help your teen adjust to wearing braces:

Help them follow the orthodontist’s instructions

Navigating your child through the teen years can be tricky. You are teaching them to be more independent, but at the same time you want them to be making healthy choices on a daily basis. Your teen probably spends more time away from home now then home with you so keeping track of what they eat all day long will be difficult. However, you can instill in them the importance of following all the orthodontist instructions both the dietary and the proper care of the braces and their teeth.

Make it a little easier for them by keeping restricted foods like hard chips and chewy candy out of the house and when you are out with them give them gentle reminders when you see them going for one of the restricted foods. Also any food preparation you do for them, make sure the food is easy for them to eat.

Check up on their brushing habits

Your teen will certainly not stand for you directly supervising their daily brushing routine, but you can make sure they have the time they need in the morning and at night to properly maintain their braces and teeth. Caring for braces takes a little bit longer than when you are simply brushing and flossing your teeth. If your teen in always running late for school in the morning and falling asleep before doing their nightly routine, then make it a point to help them with their schedule so they are not rushing through their daily hygiene.

If the orthodontist gives them special brushes to make getting food stuck in those hard to reach places, then watch while they use them the first couple of times to make sure they are doing right. Get your teen an electric toothbrush and other tools that make taking care of their braces and teeth much easier.

Be your teen’s advocate

While braces are not painful by any means, they can be uncomfortable especially in the beginning so you need to be supportive of your teen through the process and help them find ways to adjust. And if they are complaining of out of ordinary pain then make an appointment with the orthodontist right away so that whatever the problem is can be addressed right away. Don’t just tell your teen that it is all in their head. Really listen to them and be their advocate.

For the expected soreness and discomfort, keep your teen’s favorite cold foods and beverages on hand. Ice cream, yogurt, chilled soups and cold water or juice can all bring a little much needed relief.

Your teen not only has to adjust physically to the braces, but also emotionally. Let your teen know that you are always there for him or her to listen to them if they are going through a rough time. Kids can be cruel so if they are being bullied at school or just feeling embarrassed about wearing braces, you want them to feel comfortable coming to you with their problems.

Protect Your Teen from Unnecessary Complications

While braces are very safe to wear, when your teen plays sports or participates in activities where injury to the face is possible, they should wear a mouth guard to protect their teeth and braces. Talk to your teen’s orthodontist about what type of mouth guard is best for your child.

An orthodontics mouthguard is different from just a plain sports one. Unlike sports mouthguards which are made of hard plastic which could still cause damage to the teeth during impact, an orthodontic mouthguard is made from silicone which is more comfortable to wear. Not only does the orthodontic mouthguard prevent your teen’s lips from bumping up against their teeth, it also protects the brackets of the braces. These mouthguards are designed to be larger than the traditional sports mouthguard in order to have more space for the braces and protect not only your braces, but your teeth, gums and jaw.

Even if your teen already has a sports mouthguard don’t let her just use that one.. Most likely it won’t fit, but even if it does, it can cause serious damage if your teen gets hit in your mouth while wearing it.

You can get an orthodontic mouthguard at any sporting goods store or order it directly from your orthodontist. There are a variety of types to choose from so you will have no problem finding one that meets your budget and needs. In cases like these though, remember that cheaper isn’t always better. While you can get an over the counter version of a boil and bite mouthguard, as your teeth shift during treatment, it won’t fit as well which means it won’t be as effective in protecting your teeth. The benefit of choosing to get it from your orthodontist is that she will make an impression of your mouth that will be used to make the mouthguard. This way it will fit your mouth perfectly.

Keep in mind that while contact sports are of the most concern, even noncontact activities like bike riding and playing Frisbee could end with a blunt force to the face. It makes sense to not only want to stay safe, but also to protect your investment in orthodontic work.

Let your teen’s coaches know he or she is getting braces and ask if she needs a mouthguard for just the upper arch of the mouth or the lower arch as well. It varies from sport to sport. If you play multiple sports, make sure you check with each of your coaches. You may need slightly different protection for each sport.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Teens are notorious for bad communication and keeping all their feelings locked up inside so it might take some work to keep the lines of communication open with your teen, but it is important. If your teen is struggling in any way whether from physically adjusting to the braces or socially because of how other teens treat him or her, you want your teen to feel comfortable confiding in you.

Before your teen gets the braces put on, set aside time to sit down and discuss what he or she should expect and try to answer any concerns or questions they may have. Also go over all the instructions carefully so that your teen knows how important it is to follow all the rules.

Looking to more tips to help your teen adjust to braces? Contact Orthodontics Limited today.

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