How to prepare your teen for braces or Invisalign

If your teen is about to start orthodontic treatment, they’re bound to have a lot of questions… or complaints! The idea of wearing braces for a few years might cause some stress and insecurity in your teen but in our opinion, it’s best to start orthodontic treatment feeling both calm and confident. 

It’s important to remind your teen that getting braces isn’t the end of the world. In fact, once their orthodontic treatment is over, your teen will thank you for investing in their bright, beautiful smile. It’s all about keeping the end goal in mind and looking after their teeth with ongoing orthodontic treatment, checkups and care. 

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate stress and prepare your teen for braces or Invisalign. Here are a few tips to make the process simple. 

#1. Explain why they need orthodontic treatment

teen with braces

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If your teen is feeling insecure about getting braces, they might be asking why they need orthodontic treatment and what will happen if they don’t go ahead with it. Your orthodontic dentist will explain the treatment in detail and provide lots of information to take home, but here are a few pointers for discussing orthodontic treatment with your child.

  • Chewing with crowded teeth or bite issues isn’t comfortable and over time, all the extra wear and tear will weaken the enamel of your teeth. Orthodontic treatment will gently push your teeth into the correct position and ensure that none of your teeth are at risk of being worn down or damaged.

  • Crowded teeth are also difficult to keep clean. Small gaps in the teeth can trap plaque, bacteria and food debris, and as this accumulates over time, the risk of oral health problems increases e.g. tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections.

  • Crowded teeth can even lead to a lower quality of life. Shockingly, 77% of women think crooked teeth are worse than a receding hairline! A straight, stunning smile can improve your overall confidence and self-esteem, leading to more success in your personal and professional life.

  • Braces might not be a quick fix but the benefits are forever! A couple of years wearing braces or retainers will give them a stunning smile later in life — and that’s worth waiting for.

Of course, your teen is bound to be focused on the aesthetic aspect of orthodontic treatment and the risk of being bullied at school. Remind them that the kids at school are wearing or will wear braces in the near future. Orthodontic treatment is incredibly common — in fact, between 25 and 50% of kids require orthodontics!

 #2. Discuss treatment options


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There are lots of orthodontic treatments available, so if your child is worried about braces, there are alternatives we can discuss. For the most part, we do recommend traditional metal braces for children and teens — this is the fastest and most effective way to straighten teeth, and the most affordable option for parents. 

Plus, traditional braces are easier for your child to manage. The alternative — Invisalign — requires a lot of commitment and work from your child. While the retainers are almost invisible and a more aesthetic option, your teen will need to remember to wear their retainers almost constantly. Leaving them out for a few days is not an option!

We recommend doing some research with your child and discussing options with your orthodontic dentist. We can help determine the best possible treatment option based on the condition of your teen’s teeth and their personal preferences. 

#3. Talk through what to expect before getting braces 

getting braces

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It’s normal for children and adults alike to feel nervous about getting braces fitted but it’s a pain-free, straightforward process and there’s nothing to be worried about. Your orthodontic dentist will explain the whole process in detail and explain what’s happening step-by-step throughout the procedure. 

The whole process takes around one to two hours including the time it takes to clean and prepare your teeth. 

  • Cleaning. Before your dentist can apply the braces, your teeth need to be clean. The first step is to clean and dry your teeth to prepare them for the brackets (i.e. the metal or ceramic pieces that hold the wires in place).
  • Gluing on the brackets. Your dentist will then place a small amount of glue or “cement” on the surface of each tooth. Once the glue has been set, your dentist will glue a bracket onto the centre of each tooth.
  • Attaching the bands. To anchor your braces, your dentist will put metal bands around your molars. This is the most uncomfortable part as the dentist will need to do a bit of maneuvering to put them in place — but it shouldn’t be painful.
  • Attaching the archwires. Once the brackets and bands are attached, your dentist will attach the archwire to the brackets. The archwire is secured by wrapping ligatures (tiny rubber bands) around each of the brackets. Here, you’ll be able to choose what colour the ligatures are!

  • Snipping the archwire. Your dentist will then need to snip the ends of the archwire to ensure it doesn’t touch or scratch the gums at the back of your mouth.

#4. Stock up on soft foods


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While getting braces doesn’t hurt, your teen might feel a bit of discomfort in the days after getting their braces put on. This is to be expected — there’s now light pressure on their teeth that wasn’t there before and the feeling of the brackets takes some getting used to. With this in mind, we recommend stocking up on soft foods for your teen ahead of time. 

Think pasta, rice, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yoghurt and mashed potato or liquid meals like soup and smoothies to help keep their energy levels high without having to chew so much. Chilled foods can also be good for relieving soreness, so make sure to stock up on cold or icy foods and drinks!

#5. Make things easier for your teen 

electric toothbrush

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Life is going to be a little different with braces, so we recommend making some changes so that eating and dental care is as easy as possible. For example, you might buy your teen an electric toothbrush that’s easier to manoeuvre around the brackets on their teeth and reach the molars at the back. 

We also recommend avoiding foods that might break your teen’s brackets — and the orthodontic dentist’s rules. Chewy foods like lollies, pizza crust and chewing gum are off-limits, as well as hard fruits and vegetables like corn on the cob, apples and raw carrots. Sugary drinks like cola and lemonade are now a “sometimes food” at parties and special events. 

With a few small changes, your teen can achieve a beautiful smile once the braces come off!

Book a consultation with your orthodontic dentist to talk about braces and other treatment options 

Need help alleviating your teen’s stress and concerns? Our orthodontic dentists would be more than happy to explain the whole process, what to expect and how braces will make a world of difference in the long run. Contact us on (02) 4392 9911 to book a consultation today!

Feature Image: Unsplash

boy with braces