My Preteen Needs Braces but Doesn’t Want Them — Now What?

Is your preteen reluctant to get braces

If your teen is reluctant to get braces, trust that you are not the only parent facing this battle. Preteens love to push back and make their own decisions. They are beginning to figure out who they are, and  while their overall appearance is more important than ever, it gets much more confusing as puberty hits. 

So enter the idea of a mouth full of metal braces, and it should be no surprise that your teen has a strong opinion—against them. If your preteen is reluctant to get braces, we have some recommendations on mitigation strategies to help your child come around.

Preteen reluctant to get braces?

If your preteen is reluctant to get braces, we can help. Dr. Mo and our dental team have helped parent after parent, and teen after teen, get comfortable with the idea of braces. Here are some of our suggestions to help your preteen understand the benefits of braces and give you the buy-in you desire.

1. Understand the root cause of the concern.

Sometimes, parents have told us that they simply tell their children they are getting braces, and that is that. Whatever concern their child had, there was no discussion, and the orthodontic treatment was scheduled for a specific date. But we have found that simply directing your child and making them feel like they have no choice isn’t always the best strategy. So, make sure you are in a reasonable frame of mind (never discuss an issue when you are angry or frustrated), and take the time to discuss what your preteen is thinking. Understand why they don’t want braces.

Maybe your preteen is embarrassed that they will need braces. Perhaps they are afraid that the treatment will hurt. Maybe they have dental anxiety. Or maybe they believe that their braces will set off metal detectors or some other braces myth. Whatever the reason, trust us, we’ve heard it all. And the key here is to acknowledge how your preteen is feeling. Take the time to listen and understand their concerns, and then partner with the team at Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry to overcome those worries.

2. Address the concerns.

Now that you know the root cause of your preteen’s reluctance to get braces, it is crucial to address it. If your child is concerned about the cost, be open and honest about it. Let your child know how medical and dental insurance works to help pay for their orthodontic treatment, and be honest about how the balance will be handled. Often, kids just want to be in the know. This is also a great opportunity to explain to your child that the benefits of braces far outweigh the costs. For example, your child can anticipate experiencing the following benefits.

  • Improved speech, chewing, breathing, and sleep
  • Self-confidence and self-esteem boost once those braces come off
  • The teenage years are the best time for braces because it is possible to reposition teeth and the jaw while they’re still growing
  • The ability to share their own braces story with younger siblings and friends who are starting on their own braces journey (preteens love to be part of the dialogue)

If their concern is about something other than money, discuss those concerns together. And this is where the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings come into play.

3. Clear up any misunderstandings.

Sometimes, preteens fear getting braces because they don’t understand the process. Aside from explaining to your child how braces can improve their dental health, ensure they know what to expect at their first braces appointment. As we said earlier, adolescents are beginning to figure out who they are. Part of this means they want to feel like they are not only part of the decision but also in the know about what is to come.

Explain to your child that the appointment to get their braces will take about one to two hours. Though getting braces can be somewhat uncomfortable, it will not be painful. And if they are concerned about discomfort, let them know that they can take an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen in advance to make it a bit easier. During the appointment, Dr. Mo will prep and clean the surfaces of their teeth, place the braces on the teeth, and then insert the wire and ligature tie to hold it all together.

The amount of time your child will have their braces will vary depending on the amount of correction needed. But, most kids will wear their metal braces for one to two years. And if your child still has questions, request a follow-up consultation with Dr. Mo at Must Love Kids. Going straight to the source so your preteen can hear everything for themselves is often a great way to reassure them of what will happen and get the buy-in to get orthodontic treatment started.

Must Love Kids is skilled at working with preteens who are reluctant to get braces.

This isn’t our first rodeo, so to speak, so don’t hesitate to partner with our dental team to help your reluctant preteen. We have a caring and family-friendly team, and we look forward to providing the orthodontic treatment that will help your child avoid long-term dental problems so they can keep on smiling for the rest of their life. Request an appointment today to see how Must Love Kids can help your reluctant preteen give you the buy-in you need. Contact us today.