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New Braces 101: Tips From the Mom of a Kid with Braces

Scott Orthodontics Lakeland Florida Braces (13)

In August 2020, we entered a new chapter of the parenting journey… life with a child in braces! My oldest son had braces put on his teeth just after he turned 12 years old. I was nervous about what he could eat, whether braces would bother him all the time, how we would add another “activity” to our already busy schedule – I was prepared for a lot of changes and extra effort.

We are currently a year in, and I am happy to report that braces really aren’t a big deal!

{Yes, the treatment is typically 18 months or longer, and braces are a financial investment, but it has not required the adjustment I expected in our day-to-day lives}.

My son has traditional metal braces from Scott Orthodontics. I asked readers for helpful advice when my son first got his braces. Dr. Scott’s office also provided us with information on what to eat and how to care for teeth and braces, and have answered my questions along the way.

Below you’ll find a combination of tips given to me plus my personal observations.

Are you just starting the process of researching braces? Check out our helpful post with 7 Questions to ask an orthodontist.

Scott Orthodontics is a Lakeland Mom partner and we appreciate them sharing their knowledge and experience with our readers.

The first 24 hours with braces

My son’s teeth were sore and sensitive the first 24-28 hours after getting the braces put on, which is typical. We planned on soft food (a CFA milkshake was stop #1), smoothies, jello, yogurt, mashed potatoes, etc. for the first two days. After that, it was back to normal food! (except for a few restrictions listed below)

Tylenol – It is recommended to take Tylenol before the appointment and then plan to keep taking it for the first 24 hours. Some friends suggested taking ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), but ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and is not recommended because it can slow tooth movement.

Salt water rinse – Dr. Scott also suggested he rinse with warm salt water to ease the pain and reduce irritation. Doing both of those kept him fairly comfortable.

First Day with Braces Chick Fil A Milkshake
First stop – Chick Fil A Milkshake

Restricted Foods with Braces

I expected major changes in what my son could and couldn’t eat, but that hasn’t been the case. There are some specific things that he can’t eat because they can damage the braces or get stuck – popcorn, nuts, sticky candy like airheads/gum/caramel are not allowed. He also can’t bite straight into anything hard or thick with his front teeth – apples, carrots, bagels – but you can cut them up and eat smaller pieces. Your orthodontist will give you a full list of things that should be avoided that can damage your braces. 

My son did have trouble eating rice at first because it got stuck in the braces, but after a few months, he’s figured out how to eat it. Other parents have also told me broccoli gets stuck in braces, but my non-broccoli-eating son wouldn’t know. ;-)

Buy a Water Pik

A Water Pik is a water flosser that is WAY easier to use than traditional dental floss. Traditional flossing is still the most effective way to floss teeth, but if you don’t think your child will do it, then this is a good backup option. I learned quickly that this is MESSY {it sprays a stream of water} so the cordless version designed to be used in the shower is a great option, especially for kids and teens.

Keep wax on hand

Dr. Scott’s office provided us with plenty of wax. My son has actually only used it once or twice. Other people have told me they used it daily. Either way, you’ll want to keep it handy for any spots that are irritating the inside of the mouth/cheeks.

Scott Orthodontics Lakeland Florida Braces (14)
The new Scott Orthodontics office in Lakeland – opened in 2021

Brushing teeth with braces is important

Keeping teeth clean while you have braces is a big deal. If you don’t keep the exposed part of your teeth clean, you can end up with stained teeth and a noticeable white square left behind where the brace is attached. {This is why Dr. Scott said my son had to wait 2+ months to show he could take care of his teeth before getting braces}.

Ideally, kids will brush after each meal, including when they eat at school. But I’m pretty sure he isn’t brushing at school very often, so I emphasize brushing morning and night at home. 

Teach them to check for food stuck in the braces

Getting food stuck is bound to happen, so make sure to talk to your son or daughter about how to check their teeth after eating at school. Put a toothbrush and/or floss picks in their backpack just in case they need to use it. Having braces can cause kids to feel self-conscious, no need for stuck pieces of food to make that any worse.

Athletes need a quality mouthguard designed for braces

If your son or daughter plays sports, you’ll want to get a mouthguard designed specifically for braces. Scott Orthodontics provides free mouth guards for patients to use during treatment, but some may find others that are more comfortable. We have this one and it has been great. It is large enough to cover both the teeth and brackets, and protects both top and bottom teeth. (You don’t boil and mold them like you do other mouthguards because your child’s teeth will continue to shift during treatment).

Appointments are quick and easy to schedule

Based on my son’s treatment plan, his appointments are approximately every 2 months right now and last around 20-30 minutes.

I was dreading adding another “activity” to our schedule, thinking visits would be every few weeks, so this has been a relief. Scott Orthodontics also runs on schedule so we have always been in and out at our set appointment time.

We’ve been able to have all of his appointments after school except for one longer appointment that was in the morning, and they let me know ahead of time that it would take 45 minutes. I do expect them to become more frequent as he gets closer to the end of treatment, but still only every 4-6 weeks.

Scott Orthodontics Lakeland Florida Braces (1)
Dr. Jon Scott + Dr. Greg Scott

Keep your appointments with the dentist

The orthodontist only takes care of the orthodontic treatment, they don’t typically clean teeth. You should continue to see a dentist for cleanings and check-ups while your child has braces.

Worried they’ll look different? Not really!

I was SO afraid that the beautiful face I’d looked at for 12 years would be changed by braces. Turns out my son doesn’t look much different! I was expecting some kind of drastic change, and now I don’t even notice his braces. {For anyone who knows him, he definitely looks different at 5’7” but that isn’t because of the braces!}

New Braces Lakeland Florida
My son before + after new braces

Despite having braces myself as a teenager, I don’t remember much about them from 25+ years ago, and I was nervous that braces would be a big deal or require some significant adjustments. Turns out they’ve just become part of our routine, and in another 6 to 8 months, he’ll have a beautiful, healthy smile to go with his trademark dimples!

If you are a parent with a child getting braces soon, or maybe even an adult having orthodontic treatment yourself, I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful as you start your own journey with braces.

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