It finally happened. Your oldest child had their braces put on. While you might be worried about how expensive those braces are, your teen needs your help in other ways. Adjusting to life with braces isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do when you’re a teenager. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few ways to help your teen cope with their new braces.
Let Them Know They’re Not Alone
It’s the easiest thing in the world to feel alone, especially when you’re a teenager with metal braces. While as a parent you have the knowledge that anywhere from 25% to 50% of kids require orthodontic treatment, your teen may not see it that way at all. That’s why it’s important for you to help demonstrate this concept. Whether that’s taking pictures from your youth and showing your child that you suffered through the same kind of treatment or not is up to you. If you’re really stuck for ideas, consider encouraging your teen to think about their friends who have had braces in the past or currently have them. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of encouragement in the right direction to help your teen seek the support that they need to begin coping with their new braces.
Keep Dinner Braces-Friendly
One of the simplest things you can do to help your teen cope with their new braces is to make sure your family dinners are braces-friendly! That doesn’t just mean making sure your teen’s plate is amenable to their braces, either. Instead, get the whole family behind the dietary changes that come with braces. Not only will this help contribute to helping your teen feel less alone, but it just might inspire some creative cooking by all members of your family. In general, you should try to avoid anything too crunchy or chewy for braces-friendly meals. Meat on the bone should also be avoided whenever possible. Not sure what to cook? Here are a few options to help you out:
- Make more slow cooker meals.
- Turn more meals into chopped salads.
- Cut large fruits and vegetables into smaller pieces.
- Cook meat off of the bone.
- Make more soups for the main course.
If you’re nervous about making these changes, that’s okay! But like most things, your diet could benefit from a change every now and again. Just make sure you’re not following water heater rules — otherwise, you wouldn’t make a change for almost 10 years at a time!
Offer Support for New Dental Care Routines
While you can’t really brush your teen’s teeth for them (and they probably don’t want that, either), there are still plenty of ways that you can support them as they tackle oral hygiene while they have braces. First and foremost, one of the easiest things you can do is invest in an electric toothbrush for them. Braces provide all sorts of new nooks and crannies to clean, and sometimes a manual toothbrush just can’t clean them as well as an electric toothbrush. Not to mention that if your teen isn’t too enthusiastic about their braces, they’ll probably put even less stock into brushing twice daily. It’s also worth considering investing in a water flosser to help your teen get those stubborn bits of food out of their brackets. If your teen is having trouble cleaning their braces or with another piece of maintenance, see what you can do to make it an easier task for them. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist’s office or orthodontist’s office as long as they’re open and not in the process of moving locations.
Helping your teen cope with their new braces might not seem like the easiest thing in the world, but it really makes all the difference.