Kids – and adults for that matter – can be frightened about the unknown and getting braces can definitely fall into this category. While we go to great lengths at our Park Slope orthodontic clinic to put our patients at ease, there are a few things that you as a parent can do to prepare your child for braces or Invisalign. A little planning and positive reinforcement can make the experience stress-free and ensure treatment is successful.
Start ‘Em Young
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children first see an orthodontist for screening no later than seven-years-old. While this is really effective for catching growth and development issues early, the additional benefit is they’ll get to know Dr. Khanna before they start treatment. Once they’re comfortable with his sparkling personality and the sights and sounds of the office, getting braces or Invisalign won’t seem like a huge deal.
Give them a Play-by-Play of the Braces Procedure
Patients frequently enter our office and leave an hour later with a mouth full of brackets and wires. That whole idea is pretty intimidating, especially to younger kids. Explain to your children exactly what they can expect from the braces or Invisalign procedure and answer their questions as best as you can. We’re here to guide the process every step of the way with you, as well. Pointing out that getting braces put on is painless and will not involve injections of any kind will ease some of their fears. They’re even welcome to snoop around our office…We don’t even have any needles in the building! Make a list of any lingering questions and bring them to your consultation with Dr. Khanna. He’ll be more than happy to educate you and your child on the ins and outs of braces and Invisalign.
Be Realistic About the Options
It can be tempting to want to slap on some metal braces and be done with it but no one knows your kid better than you. Familiarize yourself with all of the treatment options and go with what you think will truly work best for their lifestyle and needs. For example, if you know your teenager is horrible at keeping up with oral hygiene, well ceramic braces probably aren’t going to be your friend and Invisalign Teen might be a better option. Set yourself up for success.
Outline Your Expectations
Okay, so this isn’t the fun part but it is really, really important. Orthodontic treatment requires a commitment. Before starting treatment let your child know what you expect and how they’ll need to contribute, such as regularly brushing and flossing, attending appointments, avoiding certain foods or wearing their Invisalign aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day and not losing them. Be frank about the financial investment you’re making and any consequences for not keeping up their end of the bargain.
Keep Their Eye on the Prize
To boost their motivation, encourage their long-term thinking and remind them of the end result, which is obviously a gorgeous, healthy smile and improved self-confidence. Talk about your own experience with orthodontic treatment if you now sport a beautiful smile thanks to braces. Let them look at before and after pictures of other patients or even celebrities. If they will be using Invisalign Teen, Dr. Khanna can show them a digital image of what their teeth will look like post-treatment.
Stock Up on Supplies
If your child will be getting traditional braces, you’ll want to have a supply of floss threaders and dental wax ready to go. Fill the fridge with braces-friendly treats and read our guide to braces-friendly restaurants in Park Slope and Brooklyn because we all know a milkshake waiting on the horizon can go a long way. While your child won’t need to alter their eating habits or gather supplies if they’ll be wearing Invisalign, their teeth may be sensitive for a few days regardless of the treatment they choose, so be sure to have some soft foods and cold drinks on-hand.
Reward Good Orthodontic Behavior
Developing a rewards system for things like attending appointments, following Dr. Khanna’s instructions and maintaining oral hygiene can help to encourage positive braces and Invisalign habits. Here are a few Brooklyn-related reward ideas:
- Stop by the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. and find the kids some new crime-fighting duds, let them try out the Cape Tester or get DeVillianized at 372 Fifth Avenue (between 5th and 6th Street).
- Check out one of the free summer movies under the stars in NYC parks that are held throughout the summer. Find the schedule here.
- Visit the Brooklyn Children’s Museum at 145 Brooklyn Avenue and take part in one of the awesome programs or simply explore.
- Let them go wild at Taro’s Origami Studio. There’s a space dedicated to allowing customers to drop-in and try origami for themselves.
- Allow them to choose a few friends and have a picnic in one of the many parks. Here’s a list of the best picnic spots in Brooklyn.
- Give them the reins and let them choose the activity for the day. We’ve got a whole list of potential ideas here and here.
Be There for Them
Cheer them on and be there to listen and encourage them if they’re feeling anxious or need a helping hand during their treatment.
Adopting a few of these tips and being prepared in advance for your child’s braces or Invisalign treatment can make things run more smoothly. Yet, remember, this is a team effort and Fresh Orthodontics is always available to address any concerns. We educate our Brooklyn orthodontic patients and their parents about what to expect. We’ll keep you informed and make sure you’re prepared and confident in your child’s treatment choices. Contact us today for a free consultation.