6 Things to Know if Your Child Needs Braces

When you learn your child needs braces, their life will soon change dramatically. Help them prepare for the difference by planning accordingly. Here are six things to know when your child gets braces.

1. Your Child Might Feel Overwhelmed

The prospect of braces can be overwhelming for any child. You can alleviate these emotions by talking through treatment options. When you settle on the best orthodontic option, discuss what most concerns your child.

Contact your orthodontist’s office for specific details about what your child’s procedure will look like. Often, children fear what they don’t know. The more information your child has going into the appointment, the less concerned they’ll feel.

2. Brushing Teeth Will Be Different

Once your child has braces, brushing their teeth will become a bit more complicated. Even though the regime is more complex, your child must maintain good oral hygiene while wearing their braces. Help them to stay on course by following these steps:

  • Before brushing, rinse your teeth with water to dislodge any food debris.
  • With a brush made for braces, brush at a 45º angle at the gumline.
  • Next, brush the top bracket and move down.
  • Then brush the bottom bracket and move up.

It’s also vital that your child continue flossing their teeth. Try using a floss threader or a water irrigator to remove food stuck between teeth to make flossing easier.

3. Say Goodbye to Certain Foods

Initially, upon getting braces, your child’s mouth will be sore, and they’ll need time to adjust to the sensation. For the first couple of days, eat soft foods like yogurt, oatmeal, soup or scrambled eggs. Depending on your child’s reaction to the braces, they could be in this stage for just a couple of days or an entire week.  

As your child grows accustomed to their braces, you can slowly introduce them to soft bread, creamy mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, cooked vegetables, pasta, and cooked beans. Be cautious serving your child overly cold food, like ice cream, or scorching food, because they may have some lingering sensitivity. After this transition period, your child can return to eating firmer foods and meals served at extreme temperatures.

Unfortunately, there are certain foods your child should never eat while wearing braces. Those foods include the following:

  • Chewing gum
  • Caramels or filled candy
  • Gummy candy
  • Suckers
  • Hard candy
  • Fruit snacks or toffee
  • Licorice sticks
  • Dense or chewy bread
  • Popcorn
  • Beef jerky
  • Acidic drinks     

Posting a list of “do not eat” foods around the house could be a helpful reminder for both you and your child as you both come to terms with how life is with braces.

4. Have Plenty of Wax on Hand

During your child’s braces transition process, it’s not uncommon for the brackets to rub up against the inside of their mouth, causing sores or irritation. A helpful way to alleviate this pain is to rub orthodontic wax on the offending brackets. The wax supplies a protective coating on the wire, no longer rubbing against the inside of your child’s mouth.

Your orthodontist’s office should have plenty of wax available free of charge. The day you go in for the fitting, request some. Additionally, ask for a demonstration of how to use it so you know the exact amount necessary to coat a bracket.

5. Stock Up On Pain Relievers

If your child experiences discomfort when they get their braces, purchase Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) to help ease their pain. It’s not uncommon for children to feel discomfort due to their braces. Depending on the child, this pain can last differing amounts of time. Follow the instructions on the medication packaging.  

6. Your Child Might Experience Swelling

The first week after your child gets their braces, they’ll probably experience swelling in their gums. This will likely cause mild pain or discomfort. If the pain is significant enough, consider treating it with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or Aleve (naproxen). You can also have your child try rinsing their gums with salt water several times a day or applying an ice compress to the sore part of their mouth.

Each time your child goes to the orthodontist to have their braces readjusted, they will likely return home with sore gums. You can anticipate this soreness to last up to three days. During this time, treat your child’s sore gums with anti-inflammatories, the salt rinse and the ice compress.

Your child might also experience swelling in their gums because of poor oral hygiene. Help them to brush their teeth and remove lodged food particles by flossing twice a day. Gingivitis can be a common experience for those who have braces. Assist your child in fighting back by making oral hygiene easier for them. Purchase an electronic toothbrush and water irrigator. Also, have your child rinse with an antibacterial mouth rinse.

Prepare Your Child For Their Experience With Braces

With these things in mind, you’ll be prepared for when it comes time for your child to get their braces. Don’t forget, stick to soft foods, stock up on pain relievers and help your child practice good oral hygiene!