By Kate Ranta on Jun 6, 2014 @ 01:51 PM
Braces are often an inevitable rite of passage for most children. The rewards of straight teeth and properly aligned jaws are a gift that literally lasts a lifetime. But, children aren't usually able to appreciate the long-term benefits enough in the moment to make the process an easy one.
If you and your child are on the verge of beginning an adventure into the world of orthodontia, here are four tips that will help you ease the pain of braces. A little creativity, encouragement and fun goes a long way towards making the one to three year (on average) journey a bit more bearable.
1) Explain, explain, explain. Make sure your child understands the process and purpose. Find a video online (geared towards children) that explains how braces work and what they do so your child is prepared for his/her trip to the orthodontist. Before each trip for a new tightening, bracket placement or other procedure, explain, as best you can, what your child should expect. Always remind him/her that if they have any questions, they can ask you or the orthodontist!
2) Count it down. Since this is a long-term endeavor, one of the most fun ways to engage your child with the process is to start a monthly and yearly countdown. Mark major milestones in the orthodontia process with special celebrations, rewards, meals out or other surprises. Make paper chains with a link for each day of the month between appointments. Or, create a wall chart where they can keep track of how long it has been and how far they have to go in the process of straightening their teeth.
3) Get colorful. Most children will love the colorful rubber bands that are currently available. Encourage them to have fun with their braces "decor" and to change it up each month. Some ideas can include choosing colors that match the current holiday season (i.e. red & green for Christmas or red, white and blue for July 4th). They can also pick colors that match their favorite sports team or flower!
4) Be sweet. Sticky or hard candy and gum will be out of the running for a while, but milkshakes or ice cream are still options and, often, will be the perfect way to help soothe a mouth that is sore from getting braces tightened!