Today, we’re talking parenting tips for teenagers with braces! Learn all the things no one told you about having braces, how to help your teen care for them, and more! Let’s get started!
Ah, braces. Everyone is quick to tell you how much they cost (a lot!), but no one prepares you for all the little things that go into parenting teenagers with braces. Let me share with you my teen’s braces story. He actually begged for them! Can you believe that? I guess it is a new trend in the teen era, a trend that I don’t understand. When I was a teen, we dreaded the moment that the dentist suggested that.
Anyway, I ignored his begging and followed the dentist guidelines. It’s not like my son was asking for a set of new Legos. He was asking for braces that cost between $6,000 and $8,000! Anyways, the dentist didn’t recommend installing them for a long time. Then, one day he noticed that his teeth needed them. While it was a cheerful day for my son, it was not for me. Braces cost a lot of money and we don’t have any insurance that covers them. Aside from the money aspect, there are a lot of things that no one told me about braces. Check them out now so they don’t surprise you later!
Parenting Tips for Teenagers: Things Nobody told me about braces
1. Finding the right specialist to install them is not an easy task
Depending on where you live and what type of insurance you have, finding the right specialist to install braces can be a real challenge. It took me many phone calls, emails, and research to find an orthodontist for my teenager. To start, I asked my dentist for recommendations. He gave me some, but those specialists had a LONG WAITING list. I’m talking months! I had to research one on my own. I asked parents, neighbors, etc. until I finally found one.
If your insurance DOES happen to cover braces, don’t think getting to a specialist will be any easier! Depending on your insurance, you may only be able to visit one specific orthodontist in your area. It’s not uncommon to wait at least a month or more to get your first visit.
2. Specialist often charge a fee for a consultation
You know how most lawyers, mechanics, and other professionals offer free consultations because they’re hoping to get your business? Well, don’t expect orthodontists to do the same thing! Unless you live in an area that is positively flooded with orthodontists, most of them already have more business than they can handle, so they don’t give out “freebies” to entice you to come in.
I respect their time and job, but I was kind of ticked by that. If you are lucky, though, they can deduct that consultation fee from your future bill. Fees range from $80 to $100. Some of them allow you to bring your child x-rays and some of them don’t. For those who don’t, you also need to pay an extra fee for those x-rays.
3. Specialists work from 8 to 5 pm.
I had to resolve the following issues. My son had school from 8 to 4 pm. He was home by 5 and sometimes by 6 (if he had extracurricular activities) but most orthodontists are only open until 5PM. This makes it challenging for kids who don’t want to miss school and parents who work day jobs that don’t allow them to take much time off.
If I didn’t want my son to miss a lot of school, I had to find a specialist that was:
- Within walking distance from school.
- Was open during lunch hours
That narrowed down the search quite a bit! I finally found one after a lot of searching. If you work at a job that doesn’t allow much flexibility or simply can’t afford to take a day off, you’ll want to do a little extra searching and try to find one of the rare orthodontists that have evening or Saturday hours.
4. Change in diet for my teenager
I knew that my son would have restrictions on his diet with his braces…I just didn’t realize how much it would have to change! Here are a few examples of changes to expect:
- He was no longer allowed to chew gum or eat any gummy candies. I was happy about that!
- He was no longer allowed to eat an apple unless it is sliced. The same goes for pears and other “tough” fruits.
- Granola bars, energy bars and other snacks like that were completely off the menu.
- Make sure to have soups for the first days because your child won’t be able to eat solids.
►►For more ways their diets will change, check out 5 Foods to Avoid with Braces!
5. Brushing routine became longer and tedious
While the recommended brushing time stayed at 2 minutes. It took longer than that with the braces. My son has to use dental floss. Believe me it is a nightmare flossing your teeth with braces on. I had to help him for the first days and it took us almost 30 minutes to do it. It becomes easier with practice and I no longer help him. I spot check his brushing though (even if he does not like it). Parenting teenagers is not easy.
These are just the things that go into getting the braces on and getting used to life with them. Another thing to keep in mind: adjustments. I’m not talking about all of the adjustments they’ll have to make to their diet and brushing routine, I’m talking about literal adjustments to the braces themselves.
Don’t think that you’ll go to the orthodontist, get braces put on, and go back in 3-5 years to get them off. In addition to routine checkups with a dentist, your teen will have to regularly visit the orthodontist to make sure the braces are doing their job and get them adjusted as they straighten the teeth. This can range from uncomfortable to downright painful for your teen. I recommend giving them ibuprofen about a half an hour before the appointment (if it’s okay with their doctor, of course).
These things no one tells you about braces sound a bit scary, but don’t let them keep you from making that appointment. The benefits of braces far outweigh the downsides of them.
Did one of your family members get braces? Did you go through all this? Tell me and share with me your parenting tips for teenagers.