One Parent’s Guide to Braces

Being a parent entails many concerns and worries. There are so many fears that a parent must keep at bay. The most dreaded words a parent can hear are, “Looks like the tike’s going to need braces.” Sure, nobody really uses the word “tikes” anymore, but what does it mean that they’re about to shove a hunk of metal into your offspring’s head? Well, I’m not really sure. But I’ve been reading a lot of brochures in the dentist’s waiting room and I think I’ve put together some fairly coherent thoughts on the matter.

The first thing a parent needs to know is why braces are required. There are several major reasons:

� To straighten crooked teeth
� To correct and align crowded or gapped teeth.
� To adjust an overbite.
� The dentist has to make the down payment on his new Italian villa.

In my trips to the dentist for my daughters, I learned the strangest thing, braces are now considered “cool” (actually the terms are “phat” or “stoopid”, but I digress). This was a shock. Growing up as I did, braces were a fate worse than cooties. Kids were known to pull out all their teeth rather than suffer the humiliation of wearing braces. You could usually find them seated in the cafeteria at the table with the kids who had plucked out their eyeballs rather than wear glasses. It was traumatic for them having to endure insulting nicknames like Tinsel Teeth or Jaws. And Metal-mouth or Tetanus Breath. Or Brace-face. Maybe Buick Mouth or Tinhead. Perhaps Oraluminum or Bumper-beaker. And whatever else I could think of at the time.

You certainly want your braces handled by a reliable oral specialist. Today, most dentists assign the work to a qualified orthodontists. Your dentist would be happy to recommend one to you, or perhaps he’s happy because he left the gas on. There are things to beware of. For example, you may want to avoid any dentist who brags he can do the same job using only “fishing line and bottle caps.” One dentist we visited mentioned several times how he’d “sure like to go for the Guiness book of records.” You may also want to avoid a dentist who demands kick-backs from the tooth fairy, offers to install braces on your grandparents’ dentures, to help “straighten them out,” or tells you for 100 bucks he’ll “forget the whole thing.”

Once you’ve found your dental professional, you’ll discover the wide range of options that are available to you and your child, brace-wise, beyond the traditional silver braces bonded to teeth. There are Lucite, or clear, braces, which are practically invisible. If you have a really good dental plan, you might even consider behind-the-tooth bonding, which hides all the dental work on the inside of your mouth, much to your tongue’s chagrin. You could opt for the Urban Youth All-Gold braces which show off your braces loud and proud with various precious metals and gems (initials extra). We decided on fashion braces, which can be color coordinated for the various holidays and the glow-in-the-dark braces, which scare the cat.

Brace technology is always pushing the envelope to make a brace more effective and comfortable. Within your child’s lifetime we will see the development of holographic “virtual braces.” Brace engineers aren’t quite sure what good they’ll do, but they are certain these “holo-braces” will be really hi-tech and cool.

Part of the initial fear of braces is not knowing the procedures. In an effort to allay your fears we can break down the methodology of bracial installation. First, the dentist will take a mold of your mouth. By pouring cement or plaster or silly putty or some such thing into your child’s mouth, they make an exact copy of the orifice to determine the precise and exact fit of the braces. Some dentists with accept a xerox of your child’s face.

Next, using epoxy (or maybe flour and water, it was hard to tell) a brace stud is bonded to each tooth. Once the support tower is in, metal strands are run from support to support that will create tension and keep the foundation in place…or, wait, my mistake, I’m reading about the Verranzanno-Narrows Bridge.

Once your child’s braces are installed, their eating habits will have to change. Your dentist will lay out a menu of ice cream, Jello, pudding and milk shakes for the first few days. After giving the braces some time to “set,” the child will be able to eat most foods. However, to avoid damaging the braces, your child will have to refrain from eating such foods as corn-on-the-cob, apples, rock candy, jaw breakers, chewing gum, exploding licorice, chocolate-covered ball bearings, tree bark, tire irons, petrified Twinkies, bread heels from really dense bread loaves, Lo-cal motor oil, certain foods with the letter “p” in them or anything from Denny’s “Tuff-to-Chew” menu.

And that’s just the child’s diet. There are lots of other things that have to be avoided as well. Things like, say, lightening storms or airport metal detectors (best take the bus or train). Or refrigerator magnets. As amusing as it seems to attach them to your kid’s face, it will affect them emotionally for years to come. Also, they shouldn’t kiss other people with braces. There’s nothing more traumatic than coming home and finding your child bumper-locked with someone.

Additionally, your child may require a night brace. It is a simple device made up of straps, wires, hooks and padding that helps align teeth and improve their bite. It is easy to lock and snap over your child’s head and is no more uncomfortable than sleeping with a coat hanger in your mouth.

After some time has passed (say an afternoon or so) your child will no doubt begin asking you “how long do I have to wear these?” “How much longer do I have to wear these?” “Can I take them off yet?” or “How come I have to wear these and you don’t?” Of course the answer varies from patient to patient. But the braces are generally removed after 3-4 years or after your final payment (9 out of 10 dentists recommend getting a second job to help speed the process along).

When finally that day arrives, you and your child will greet it with joy, even though you won’t be able to use him or her to help improve television reception any longer. Yes, you’ll look at your offspring’s straight, perfect teeth and think, “There goes college.”

for more information, visit our website at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 + one =