Helping Your Self-Conscious Teenager Through Wearing Braces

Your teen will want their teeth to look better, and they may logically know that braces will accomplish that. Teenagers are going through a time where physical appearance is often a priority, so wearing braces, even knowing the outcome will be good, can be awkward. When a child that is particularly self-conscious, braces may prove to be an especially difficult time for them and subsequently for you as the parent.

There are some things you can do to help get your teenager through their braces phase.

Let Your Teen Make Choices

As you probably already know, one of the struggles with teens is knowing when to let them have the independence they are demanding. When it comes to braces, try to let them, along with the orthodontist, make some decisions. You will want to meet with the family orthodontist or someone from their office beforehand. Go over your budget and hard limits on what you will and will not allow. This way the orthodontist can work with you by not even offering things that are off limits.

Your child may not have to wear metal braces. Some of the other possibilities might be:

  • Invisalign Braces – These are clear aligners that are specially made for the patient. The aligners are made from a mold your dentist takes; then each aligner is worn for specified amount of time. As your teenager's teeth make progress, new aligners are made and worn.
  • Ceramic Braces – These braces function much like metal braces. The difference is that ceramic can be made in colors that match the wearer's teeth.
  • Lingual Braces – These braces are similar to ceramic but are worn on the backside of the teeth. The advantage for the teen is the braces aren't visible.

Your orthodontist can advise which of these are available for your teen. You can then help decide which should be offered. Finally, let your teenager make the final decision.

If your child's braces allow for colored bands, let them have the freedom to choose colors. 

Helping with Rough Days

Your teen may have particularly rough days with their braces. They might experience pain, teasing or mocking from other kids, or just all-around insecurities centered on their smile and mouth. Try not to dismiss their pain. Allow them to voice their upsets, acknowledge that they are upset, and be supportive.

It's easy as an adult to want to say something along the lines of, "This is only temporary, and you will have a beautiful smile in the end." However, that isn't going to help most teens. They are experiencing real pain-- either physically or emotionally. Being empathetic will be more helpful. If the pain is out of the ordinary, call the orthodontist and see if anything can be done.

Avoid Hovering

If your teen is struggling with their braces, do all you can to be supportive. Unless you have to intervene, try letting the orthodontist enforce the rules such as proper brushing and eating the right foods. Try not to nag about the rules yourself, but bring up your concerns to the orthodontist. 

You are sure to find the balance between staying in control as the parent while allowing your child to find their way through a situation that weighs on their confidence.