Teen Braces: Brace Yourself

Teenage years are some of the most challenging for both child and parent. The one thing a teen wants more than anything is to be accepted by their peer group. They want to be attractive to the object of their affections in the romantic scene. Teen braces are often a roadblock to those goals. Braces can be bulky, painful, and seen as unattractive. For decades the idea of having braces has been considered synonymous with geeky and unpopular.

So, how can you help your teen come to terms with needing braces? There are several ways to help. You can help them make these adjustments easier to live. Or you can actually mitigate the impact that braces has on their life and appearance.

Invisible Braces

The first option I would encourage you to explore is Invisible Braces. These are braces that fit over your teeth. They are simply changed out rather than adjusted. Invisalign is one brand that offers such options. Their commercials are everywhere on Facebook and Pinterest. It is likely that your teen has heard of them. Invisalign offers an office free option but I would be wary of that for a child.

You’re going to want to make sure you have an answer for your teen. Not all insurance plans will cover this option. Price might be a reason this isn’t an option for your family. Though, if you do have the funds, some companies offer payment options. It is important to note that not all issues that are corrected with braces can be treated with invisible braces. Explain this caution to your teen before approaching your orthodontist with the inquiry.

Clear Bands

Another good option to explore is braces with clear bands. They aren’t as unobtrusive as invisible braces. But, with clear bands, it is harder to see them.

You and your teen could also choose to go the other way. Choose interesting and bright colors in order to use the braces to make a statement that stays true to who your teen is.

Easing Adjustment Days

Having their braces adjusted can be bittersweet for a teen. With each adjustment, they get a little closer to the goal of having the braces removed. But, adjustments are often painful. Some tricks and tips that I’ve picked up over the years can make your teen’s time at the office much easier.

Make their appointment at the end of the day. Or, allow them to take the whole day off for the adjustment. Many suffer pain from adjustments. It can make them moody and uncomfortable to be forced to return to school where they have to concentrate or participate in class.

One option would be to offer your teen some over-the-counter painkillers on the way to office. (Or in the office waiting to go in if your dental office has long wait times.) This gives the painkillers the chance to start working. Make sure it is Ibuprofen or Tylenol as aspirin is a blood thinner and may not be appropriate for a dental visit. If you have any questions, check with your orthodontist.

Don’t quit Band

Your teen might also be afraid of extra-curricular activities changing. Talk with them about this especially if they are in band or play sports. Make sure to speak to your Orthodontist about these fears and the more you know the more you can make sure you do what’s right for you and your teen.

If your child plays an instrument especially the flute or a woodwind instrument, there will be adjustments to their playing style and will require more practice in the beginning. However, if your child is serious about Band you can look into Lingual Braces instead of Traditional Braces. Lingual Braces are braces that are applied to the back of the teeth so that there isn’t a difference in playing an instrument. You can ask your Dentist about them as an option.

Keep playing ball…

If your child plays sports particularly sports that require mouth guards, your child might be worried about not being able to play anymore. It is true that in years gone past orthodontists recommended that children with braces did not participate in these sports. If your child is hit in the mouth, it can knock the braces loose, cause the adjustments to have to start over, or seriously injure your child’s mouth.

Today we have what is called orthodontic mouth guards. These mouth guards are silicone instead of hard plastic. The hard plastic of traditional mouth guards can undo the work the braces are doing for your teen’s teeth so it is important that they do not wear these.

Orthodontic mouth guards cushion the lips from the teeth. They are also visibly larger than traditional mouth guards but your teen will still be able to play their sport of choice without worrying about the impact on their teeth. It goes without saying that if your teen does take a hard hit you should make them an appointment to get checked out anyway.

Listen to your teen…

If your orthodontist is impatient and doesn’t seem to care how your teen feels I would recommend you find another option. I once had a friend who told her orthodontist that there was more pain than there should be after an adjustment. He wouldn’t listen to her and when they got a second opinion my friend had to have an emergency adjustment because it was wrong. If your teen doesn’t like their orthodontist or if they’re too busy for your questions take your business elsewhere.

It is never easy for a teenager to learn that they need something that will mark them as different from their friends. The best thing you can do is be supportive of your teen. He may fret over how it will change things and you will offer the options you have learned about. She might cry or be angry over how it will look and you can discuss Lingual or Invisible Braces. They will be moody after adjustments and all you can do is often the best comfort for your teen. 

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