How you can help your child feel comfortable and confident during their journey with braces.
Braces are a big milestone for kids and their parents. As a parent, you view your child’s braces as an investment towards their future. A great smile and optimal oral health mean more confidence and success in college, careers, and relationships. Although the numerous advantages of childhood braces are obvious to parents, many kids and teens aren’t quite so convinced at first.
From an older child’s or teen’s perspective, braces mean a major change to their appearance and lifestyle. Not to mention having to experience some soreness and discomfort off and on during their treatment plan.
Here’s how you can help your child navigate through the physical and emotional troubles that often come with braces.
1. OTC pain relievers and toothache remedies are useful for braces pain.
Braces pain usually feels different than a typical toothache, but many toothache home remedies are still very effective.
The most common option for relieving braces pain is a child-safe over-the-counter pain reliever. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are both commonly used for toothaches. In the case of braces, many orthodontists recommend acetaminophen so always check in if you weren’t given clear instructions during your child’s last appointment.
As far as other remedies, swishing with salt water (1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water) and topical toothache ointments can be useful. Be sure to supervise your child’s use of any sort of pain reliever!
2. Be proactive in managing braces pain on tightening days.
The day your child gets their braces tightened is usually the most painful, with some lingering soreness the following couple of days being typical.
OTC pain relievers take time to work, sometimes 30 to 45 minutes or more before they noticeably reduce discomfort. Get a headstart on keeping your child comfortable by having them take their dentist-approved pain reliever right before their appointment.
Applying a warm compress once you get home can also help take the edge off the initial soreness.
3. Know what’s a normal level of discomfort for your child.
Every child is different when it comes to the level of discomfort they might feel with their braces. Some kids feel very minimal pain after their braces are tightened while others are much more sensitive. It’s important to know what’s normal for your child so you can tell if something is amiss.
If your child’s discomfort seems to be lasting for longer than normal, don’t hesitate to contact their pediatric dentist for their opinion. Remember, we’re here to help in any way we can.
On a similar note, if your child finds that their lips or cheeks are being poked with wires or something seems wrong with their brackets, a call to the dentist is necessary.
4. Keep orthodontic wax and plenty of lip balm on hand to relief braces pain.
It’s normal for kids with braces to experience some irritation on their cheeks, lips, and gums. Even properly spaced and applied brackets and wires can scratch or chafe on the lips and cheeks in particular.
Your child’s dentist will give you orthodontic wax, but we also recommend keeping a few extra on hand at home, in the car, or in your child’s backpack. Minty waxes are a little more appealing to kids who are put off by flavorless wax.
Lip balm is another important item to have on hand. Many kids experience chapped lips while wearing braces, so an effective lip balm can be a real lifesaver. Normal tube chapstick works well but we find that a thicker formula like vaseline tends to last longer.
5. Do what you can to support their self-confidence.
A tough part of parenting is seeing your child struggle with confidence. Although there are certainly kids who are very proud of their braces, there are just as many that feel embarrassed or self-conscious—particularly during those first few weeks or months.
Be patient and encourage your child to talk about how they feel about their braces. Look for ways you can help support healthy self-confidence, such as complimenting their achievements with school or hobbies rather than their physical appearance. Sometimes simply asking your child what you can do to help is the most effective route to supporting their confidence.
Pediatric Dental Specialists will be by your child’s side for support and routine dental care.
Knowing your child has a compassionate, skilled dental home to support them during their journey to a healthy smile is a wonderful feeling. Throughout your child’s orthodontic treatment plan our pediatric dentists and support team will make sure your child is as comfortable as possible with their braces and maintain a standard routine dental care schedule.
For answers to your questions or to book an appointment with your child’s dentist, call our office or fill out this online form.