Our teeth are a big part of the first impression we make at almost any age, and it seems like kids always notice the details — whether it’s a classmate’s braces or an overbite. When it comes to self-esteem, braces are a mixed bag. What we see is a trade-off between the temporary inconvenience of treatment and the major long-term confidence boost that comes withfixing orthodontic problems. In most cases, orthodontic treatment is a big win when it comes to self-esteem, but sometimes it takes a while for that to become clear. For an orthodontist, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a young person walk out of our office after completing treatment with confidence soaring and a beautiful new smile. Getting braces can bring challenges, but the result is well worth the inconvenience and minor frustrations.
Braces and Self-Confidence: The Positives
Think about an 11-year-old sixth-grader who’s getting bullied because of his overbite or crooked teeth. Sadly, this is a very real situation, and it’s backed by research. A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics showed a link between bullying and dental/facial appearance and suggested that teeth were the number one targeted physical feature, even before size and weight.
In an article published by the Orthodontic Products industry site, an American Association of Orthodontists panel suggested that early orthodontic treatment of a child being bullied can have positive psychological effects during treatment that become even greater after braces are taken off.
When an orthodontist clearly explains the long-term goals of braces, in terms of both bite and appearance, it can help children and teens understand the bigger picture and make the short-term inconvenience easier to manage
Braces and Self-Confidence: The Negatives
While today’s brackets are more streamlined and less obtrusive than many of us remember from childhood, they can still make young people feel self-conscious. Learning to love your smile with braces can take a little time. Learning to eat with braces is also an adjustment, and the food restrictions that come with treatment can make social situations trickier to navigate.
How Can I Help My Child Feel Better About Their Braces?
One of the most important reminders we can give our kids is that orthodontic care isn’t just cosmetic. Instead, we’re working toward a healthy bite with a great smile as a bonus. Another important reminder is that good hygiene with braces will help your child feel better and look better by keeping food particles out of braces and preventing plaque build-up around the brackets. This helps prevent the white marks that are sometimes left when braces are removed. Some of the most important oral hygiene reminders include:
- Brush after every meal and snack as often as possible.
- Use your tiny “christmas tree” brush to clean brackets.
- Rinse with antibacterial rinse or water to get rid of food particles.
- Floss at least once a day.
- A water irrigator (Waterpik) can also help get rid of food particles.
Your Orthodontist Plays a Role in Keeping Confidence High
One of the most important elements in boosting your child’s confidence during orthodontic treatment is a supportive provider. Your child’s orthodontist plays a big role in helping them appreciate the long term goals and benefits of braces. Dr. Courtney Ullrich, our orthodontist at NOVA Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, understand the importance of connecting and communicating with your child to help them understand:
- what to expect with braces.
- how to properly care for their teeth during treatment.
- how to feel good about braces by thinking long-term.
- what they are accomplishing for their smile.
Getting through braces can be tough when you’re 12 … and 24 months seems like an eternity. But it can be a lot harder to go through life without getting needed orthodontic care. We’ll help your child keep in mind that braces are a long-term confidence booster and keep our eyes on the joy of a brand new smile.