Why It’s Important To Allow Your Teen To Own Their Braces Care
So your child just got braces. They’ve officially joined the ranks of millions of teens and pre-teens before them and those who will get braces treatment in the future to correct crooked or misaligned teeth. And with braces comes great braces care responsibility; to piggyback off the famous Stan Lee quote. Your child will need to learn to care for their braces independently. After all, while parents may want to, they can’t monitor their child’s every move. So we’ve put together some thoughts on why your child needs to take responsibility for their braces. And we promise this newfound responsibility will pay off in better oral health when they are older.
Braces care is a great way to instill responsibility in your teen.
As kids age, their brain development allows them to take on more responsibilities. For example, a pre-teen (age 10 to 12) is old enough to pack their school lunch, take care of their bodily hygiene, stay home alone for a few hours, etc. While the level of responsibility can vary from child to child, most kids at this age are old enough to practice a good oral care routine at home, including brushing, flossing, etc. They are even old enough to care for their braces. If your child has ADHD or other special needs, additional supervision may be required, but the points below may still apply.
Here are a few tips to help your child care for their own braces.
Let your child embrace technology, even for their braces.
Yes, there’s an app for that. If your pre-teen or teen always has their nose in their phone, encourage them to download the BracesHelp app. This app contains valuable information, pictures, and even videos to help your teen care for their braces.
Kids at this age like to feel they are trusted and can make their own decisions. Trusting your child can pay off in various ways, too, including:
- They will trust you more.
- They’re more likely to come to you with serious issues (and if they do, be cautious of your reaction).
- They’ll feel more confident in themselves and their ability to make future decisions.
- They’ll believe in themselves, and their self-confidence will grow.
The result of trusting your child is that they’ll be more likely to take better care of their responsibilities. And don’t worry—a trusted child will often offer mutual respect, coming to you when they have questions or need help.
Be open and honest.
Along with trust, be open and honest with your child. A policy of honesty and an open door can encourage the same for your child. But as part of this, teach your child how to advocate for themselves and consider the following.
- Please encourage your child to speak for themselves at the dentist. Let them ask the majority of the questions first. Don’t worry; you can ask any remaining questions later. You may be surprised to find many of your questions already answered.
- Let your child take the lead when they arrive for their orthodontic appointments. Before long, they’ll know the routine, and you’ll find yourself flipping through magazines in the waiting room.
- Talk to your child about any fears they have about getting braces. Never under-validate their fears or concerns. Listen to what they have to say—hear them out.
- Let your child be involved with decisions related to their braces care. This doesn’t mean they get to make the decision not to get braces. But allow them to voice their opinions along the way, and where there are choices, give them a vote.
- While you may want to remind them to clean their braces occasionally, try to back off. Backing off shows that you trust them. You may be surprised that when you back off, your child does more of what you wanted them to do in the first place.
- Give your child some autonomy. Let your child decide which oral hygiene supplies to get. They can’t go wrong if the product is ADA-approved or recommended by their dentist. So let them pick the water flosser they like best or the colored bands they want. This will go a long way in helping your child build their independence.
- At some point, your child will have to consent to hospital care, medical or surgical diagnosis, or treatment by a physician, dentist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner without the consent of a parent or guardian of the minor. Prepare for this by asking before you share your child’s medical information—in general, but this includes braces.
- Be honest with your own mistakes. When your kids see you aren’t perfect, they’ll be more likely to come to you with their mistakes too. For example, mentioning how it’s hard to brush your teeth on days when your mental health is down can help.
- Remember that occasional, genuine compliments can go a long way in helping build your child’s self-confidence and positive body image. So when you catch your kid doing an excellent job with their oral care, be sure to say something and recognize their efforts.
Let your child own their braces care and orthodontics at Vancouver Pediatric Dentistry.
The team at Must Love Kids loves working with kids who are involved in their braces care. So, whether your child has braces now or will need them in the future, we’d love to help. Request an appointment for your child today and set them on a great path to responsible braces care, and a great smile.