If your kids are in line for some orthodontic treatment, you’re going to need to be prepared, too...
I’ve had braces twice in my life: once as an awkward 13-year-old and then again as a (slightly less awkward) 24-year-old. While I opted for my repeat performance to be of the lingual variety (aka, fitted to the inside of your teeth), my first round was the traditional orthodontic set-up. Meaning metal, fixed, kids’ braces, top and bottom. Obviously I survived to tell the tale, bar one particularly scarring incident involving a bag of fluorescent orange-coloured corn chips that sought sanctuary in each and every one of my brackets. Shudder.
Other than Doritogate, I can absolutely recall all my worries, concerns and anxieties that went through my mind as an early teen facing two years of braces. Will they hurt? How long do I have to wear them? Can I still eat my favourite foods (see above)? Will anyone want to kiss me?! It’s why, now I’m a parent, I’m here to share my top tips for setting your own child’s mind to rest before they start orthodontic treatment here in Singapore. Kid getting braces? Read on…
Let’s talk options
If you’re not blessed with divine dentals, the good news is that there are now heaps of options to iron out that smile – if you want to, of course! Be open with your child about braces and do research together to see what each treatment can achieve. Then, when you meet with your child’s orthodontist for an initial consultation, chat through all the possible treatments so you can all make an informed decision about what’s going to be the best choice for your kid’s braces. And it goes without saying that you should totally encourage them to ask their own questions – you might not have thought of what’s buzzing around their brain! Metal brackets to match their fave football team’s colours? It’s an option!
Set their mind at ease
I’m going out on a limb here by saying your child won’t have had kids’ braces fitted before, so they won’t have a clue what to expect. Both you as a parent and the orthodontist can explain the (very straightforward) procedure to them… and prepare them for a bit of a long sit in that dental chair. When I think back to it, it was more the sounds and the pressure of fitting the brackets and wires that weirded me out a little. And holding my mouth open for all that time, natch. Being aware of those sorts of things can really ease their minds.
There’s also the biggie: will it hurt? Honestly? Not so much the fitting part but yes, afterwards there is definite – but short-term – discomfort. My teeth ached. The insides of my lips rubbed on the brackets and got sore. And with lingual braces, it was the sides of my tongue that got the brunt of it. But the aching did subside after a couple of days, and paracetamol helped.
The early days, post-fitting
Absolute no-no: after your kid’s braces are fitted, don’t go cooking up a big chewy schnitzel or offering them crunchy apples! Instead, when it comes to food in those early days, you want to go softly, softly. As your child’s teeth get used to being gently moved 24/7 by all the mouth mechanics, they will be tender as heck. Consider soups and smoothies, or minimal-chewing options like pasta, rice, scrambled eggs, mashed potato and so on. I also used to carry around a little packet of orthodontic wax with me once I’d had my braces fitted. It’s great to roll up into a little warm ball and press on to a particularly troublesome part of your brace and stop any rubbing.
The bigger picture
At that socially delicate age, a year or two of wearing braces can feel like a sentence. It can really impact youngsters’ confidence and self-image, but you can absolutely be a positive beacon in all this. Remind them this is a permanent fix: short-term (in the grand scheme of things) pain for long-term gain. And they’re in good company: celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani, Niall Horan from One Direction and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo have all worn braces… while they were famous, too! It’s really nothing to feel bad about and, once the treatment is over, it will all have been worth the effort.
Above all, be calm and confident, and chances are your young ‘un will follow suit. Keep smiling, folks!