“My teeth hurt!” You may have heard this phrase recently, or something similar. No parent likes to see their child hurting, but with new braces there is bound to be some discomfort for a while. Additionally, sore cheeks, lips and even tongue can occur while your child is getting used to braces.
There is also the adjustment to a limited diet. No more biting into corn on the cob or a juicy apple (without cutting and peeling it first!) Your child may think they won’t survive the time they must go without things like raisins, bubble gum or fruit snacks but what may seem like torture now will be worth it in the long run.
Prepare for Discomfort
Getting used to braces doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time – days or even weeks – for your child to get used to having braces. It is a brand new sensation and our mouths are very sensitive – just think of how irritating a small piece of food stuck between your teeth can be. Now, multiply that by all the wires, brackets and bands that have just been introduced to your child’s mouth!
It’s not just sensory overload either. No matter what type of braces your child gets, expect some discomfort to accompany the new braces. There are solutions for the common sources of discomfort that come from getting braces. Your orthodontist can help, just keep in mind that although your child will experience some level of discomfort, they shouldn’t experience severe pain. If your child is in extreme pain, contact your orthodontist.
Remind Them of the Benefits
Don’t be surprised if your child becomes somewhat stressed or anxious about getting their braces removed as soon as possible. Getting used to braces will take a while. Reminding them of the benefits can help ease their anxiety. Helping them understand the reason for their braces and how important sticking with the orthodontic treatment is may calm them as well.
Getting them on board with their treatment can go a long way. Remind them of the importance of healthy teeth and how braces will help maintain them throughout their life. Keep the end goal in mind and discuss the impact that straighter teeth will have and how much more confident they will feel after their treatment is over.
Keep Soft Foods Available
While their diet may not call for some of their favorite crunchy or sticky foods, their limited selection of foods doesn’t have to feel like punishment. While your child is getting used to braces, take the opportunity to stock your home with options that are safe for braces so they have snacks they can enjoy. Try new flavors of soup or yogurt. Experiment with different combinations of frozen berries in smoothies which will taste great and the cold will help ease the pain of sore teeth.
Make a game out of finding alternatives to some of their favorite foods. If your child’s favorite snack was biting into an apple or crunching on peanuts, try peeling and slicing an apple then dipping it in peanut butter. You could also research recipes containing apples. And, if you make it together, it will get their mind on something fun and off their braces for a little while. You may even discover a new family favorite!
Stock Up on Helpful Supplies
Even when the initial pain of getting braces subsides, there will be many times throughout the journey of getting used to braces when you will want to be sure your parental “bag of tricks” is stocked. There are some simple items that can help your child ease into braces, and through some of the adjustments made at their orthodontist visits along the way.
First are over-the-counter pain relievers. With each adjustment will come some soreness and OTC pain remedies can ease the discomfort. Orthodontic wax is the next item that can be very helpful. As mentioned earlier, our mouths are very sensitive and even the slightest pointy or jagged edge of a wire or bracket can feel like a machete in the mouth. Orthodontic wax covers rough edges and protects the tender skin of the inside of your child’s cheeks and lips from feeling shredded by their braces.
Finally, floss picks or a water flossing device can really come in handy. If your child thought flossing was a chore before braces, flossing with braces takes it to a whole new level. Imagine trying to brush your teeth through a chain link fence and you’ll have some idea of the challenge your child faces when trying to floss. Providing one of these tools can feel like a lifesaver to your child – and they may even begin to have fun flossing! Great brushing and flossing is a reward in itself but an added bonus is you knowing that their teeth are staying clean and healthy.
Don’t Let Them Miss Orthodontist Appointments
Many children would rather not go to any medical appointment let alone the dentist or orthodontist. However, it is very important to keep them on schedule for their visits. Missing an appointment could lead to an extended treatment schedule and possibly more pain and getting used to braces is hard enough.
Appointments are also a great time for you to speak with their orthodontist. You and your child can ask questions, get suggestions or ideas on what to expect moving forward, and even learn some potential solutions for common concerns about braces.
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