Braces rank high on the list of childhood fears– right after the boogeyman and spelling tests! Once you are ready to get braces for your child, the next challenge will be to prepare your child for braces. That includes everything from the initial procedure to the adjusted diet your child will need to experience through the course of treatment. Of course, it is always a good idea to consult with your orthodontist for tips on how to prepare. In the meantime, here are five tips to get your child braces ready!

Keep your child informed and let them make some decisions

Make your child aware of the process from start to finish, giving a clear timeline that they can understand. Include your child in the discussion and give them an opportunity to make decisions, be it the type of braces (traditional, ceramic, invisalign) or the color of the rubber band your child will be using. Check with your orthodontist for other ways braces can be personalized.

Track your child’s treatment progress together

Create a fillable calendar that you can complete with your child with treat days your child can look forward to, be it weekly, monthly, or whenever you have an appointment with the orthodontist. Try this easy online calendar creator, and add in your child’s appointment days. Print it out and hang it in the house where both you and your child can see. Cross out the days (or use stickers!) so your child can see the progress.

Stock up on braces-friendly foods and supplies

Biting and chewing can be very uncomfortable right after orthodontic appointments. Buy soft foods, such as yogurt, and create a braces readiness kit with your child, stocking it with items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, orthodontic rubber bands and orthodontic wax. Need help shopping for braces-friendly foods? Print the PDF below for an easy shopping list.

Talk about the benefits of braces to your child

Emphasizing the benefits of braces to your child will help them visualize the ultimate goal of braces, greater dental health and a boost in self-esteem. You can achieve this in a variety of ways, such as explaining how the length of treatment is relatively small compared to the lifetime benefits braces provide, such as improved dental hygiene, which reduces the risk of oral disease. Here’s a tip- show them before and after pictures and hang up their own progress pictures next to their calendar so they can visualize their transformation.

Be involved in your child’s treatment

Playing a central role in your child’s treatment will help them adjust to the more difficult aspects of having braces. Involve yourself by patiently listening to your child’s concerns during treatment or assisting your child with their teeth cleaning routine. Include positive affirmations: compliment your child on their straightening teeth, remind them that there are only x number of weeks, months, appointments until their braces come off, give them a treat or a special trip if they’re having an especially hard day with their braces.

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