So your child needs braces. Chances are that you’ve already been through something of a process to find out that braces are necessary for your child. Parents are not simply told that their children need braces and then move on from there. The process typically begins with a visit to the family dentist. After the dentist notices classic signs that braces are necessary, usually from over-crowding in the mouth or other misalignment issues, they will refer their patient to an orthodontist. The orthodontist will make the final assessment regarding whether or not your child actually needs braces. But even after they decide that braces are a good idea, you’ll still have a task ahead of you: convincing your child that the braces are worth it.

It’s understandable if your child is worried about getting braces. A lot of them expect pain to be a part of getting braces, especially as they’re initially applied. Furthermore, braces are something of a long-term, if not permanent, commitment much of the time. On average, most braces need to be worn for around two years. For a young child or even a teenager, this can seem like forever. While you can make your child wear braces, it’s much easier for them, you, and of course, your orthodontist, if they feel good about them. Let’s look into some of the different approaches you can take to talk to your child about braces. The more they know about what braces are really like, rather than what they think they’re like, the more your child will realize that not only are braces not that bad; they’re actually very good for them.

1. Your Braces Will Not Totally Change Your Lifestyle

A lot of teens have tons of myths regarding braces in mind. These are often fed to them by pop culture. For example, there is the classic gag of two people getting their braces locked when they kiss in films and television, making it easy for teens to assume that this horrendously embarrassing moment could happen to them. In fact, this is a total myth; today, braces are so sleek and easy to wear that it’s highly unlikely that they’ll end up getting tangled with anyone else’s. Some may also think that the instrument they play will experience interference from braces, but this is actually another total misconception. While there is an adjustment period regarding braces, eventually you can play your instrument just as well with braces as you would without. The more your child understands that they can largely live their normal lives while wearing braces, the less worried they will be about getting braces in the first place, ideally.

2. Braces May Be a Bit Uncomfortable

It’s important to be honest with your children about what getting braces entails. You want to make them feel better, of course, but you shouldn’t sugarcoat anything. With that being said, there is usually a bit of soreness after braces are applied initially. This can, however, be easily treated with a bit of over the counter pain medication, after which your child can return to their everyday lives. Braces do not hurt permanently; there is not an ongoing pain that comes with them. They might be a little uncomfortable at times, but for the most part, they won’t be so uncomfortable that it will be noticeable.

3. You Have Options

The braces you choose really depends on what you want and can afford for your child to wear. If you think that traditional metal braces are best for your child and your budget, then they are great options. However, if your child is really self-conscious about the look of traditional and you’re open to braces that may be somewhat more expensive, there is an alternative solution. Invisalign braces are clear braces, and therefore much more difficult for the naked eye to discern. They do come with a good amount of responsibility; though they are worn most of the time, they do need to be removed when a person is eating and also cleaned separately. This may be something that some teenagers are not yet responsible enough for. But if they are, and you’re willing to look into these alternative braces, they could make your child feel much more confident about themselves than they would feel with traditional braces.

4. You May Need to Alter Your Diet With Braces

Yes, it is true that there are some types of foods that are less than ideal for those that wear braces. Noodles, popcorn, gum, and sticky candies may not be right for a child with braces. This isn’t so much because they’ll ruin braces on their own, but rather that they can easily get caught up in braces. When this food gets caught up in braces, it can be unsightly and ultimately end up with food rotting within the braces. These sticky or easily entangled foods may need to be done away with. However, your teenager can still eat pudding, ice cream, mashed potatoes, and other types of foods that they probably already enjoyed. You may want to reframe this issue as less of one about giving up things that your child likes and more about switching out some things that they like for other foods that they like. Furthermore, this is all temporary. Once your child is done with their braces, they can have whatever they want to eat!

Again, it’s completely understandable if your teen is worried about getting braces at first. But remember: braces are remarkably common, worn by roughly 4 million Americans today, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. And they’re worn for a reason. There are so many benefits, both cosmetic and health-related, to wearing braces. The more your child knows about braces, the less they’ll be afraid, and the more they’ll see them as truly beneficial.