8 Things Parents Must Know About Braces for their Kids

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Close-up portrait of a kid with braces

Have your kids gotten braces yet? I just finished treatments with my oldest daughter, and my youngest is just now beginning. It’s a long road, but worth it at the end. But when I first started, I had no clue what it would be like! Like other parents, I had LOTS of questions about what life with braces will be like for my child.

Common questions range from when kids should first see the orthodontist to what types of food are off limits. The more parents are know what to expect, the less they will fear the process, and be able to help their children enjoy and get the most out of their treatment experience. We have some expert tips on what to expect when  you are considering braces for your kiddos.  

“Getting braces doesn’t have to be a scary process, but it can be if you haven’t had some of the more common questions answered ahead of time,” explains Dr. Karson Kupiec, a second-generation orthodontist at Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, located in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. “The last thing you want is to go into the treatment process without feeling comfortable. When parents feel comfortable and confident about it, so will the kids. They often mimic their feelings.”

Here are some of the things that every mom must know before their child gets braces, according to Dr. Kupiec:

  • Age. Many people are unsure when a child should see an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than the age of seven.
  • Straightness. Even children who have straight teeth should still be evaluated by an orthodontist. There may be a problem with their teeth that can be detected by the doctor. Early treatment helps to guide proper jaw growth, correct harmful habits, and help guide teeth, and even shape one’s face.
  • Cost. With an average cost for metal braces being around $5,000- $7,500, many parents may feel they can’t afford the treatment. However, some orthodontist offices offer payment plans, making it worthwhile to check into what options are available. There are various types of braces available, so discuss them with the orthodontist to determine the best one for your child and invest in their future smile.
  • Clean Teeth. If your child’s teeth aren’t sufficiently clean before getting braces, your orthodontist will have to clean them with a polishing paste so that the braces can properly be cemented to your teeth. If possible, schedule a regular professional cleaning appointment with your dentist a few days before you get your new braces so the teeth will be plaque-free prior to your braces appointment. Then, brushing with a high fluoride toothpaste — along with flossing and gargling mouthwash before your appointment — can help make you feel more confident and will speed things along with the orthodontist.
  • Expect discomfort. Getting braces is going to create some discomfort, especially once your child first gets them. They can cause sores in the mouth. To help, choose soft foods, such as soup, pasta and bananas for the few days following getting braces. If there is still a high level of discomfort after a few days and it doesn’t go away with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, call the orthodontist.
  • Regular care. Talk to your orthodontist about proper care of your braces. You’ll need to brush regularly and use a Waterpik to flush out the food particles that can get caught between braces and teeth; you should also avoid sticky foods. With proper care and by seeing your orthodontist regularly for checkups, you can keep your teeth healthy while your braces are in place.
  • Foods. There are some foods that should be avoided when having braces, because they tend to get caught. These include chewy foods, crunchy foods, sticky foods, and hard foods. Specific foods to avoid include sticky peanut butter, popcorn, caramel, taffy, and gum. Also, things you have to bite into, such as an apple or corn on the cob.      
  • Choosing a doctor. Opt for an orthodontist, since they are specialists in straightening teeth and have had two to three years of additional training beyond dental school. Meet with the doctor to determine whether or not it will be a good fit for your family.

“Getting braces can be a little nerve-wracking, but the fear of the unknown is usually the worst part,” added Dr. Kupiec. “Asking plenty of questions and prepping physically for your appointment should go a long way toward increasing your comfort level. The thing I love most about what I do is seeing my patients with a perfect smile and the new-found confidence to match!”

Dr. Karson Kupiec has a full-service orthodontic and pediatric dentistry practice, with locations in Rancho Santa Fe and Imperial Valley. The Rancho Santa Fe orthodontic office offers traditional braces, as well as Invisalign, and dentistry for children, including offering cleanings, sedation, and sealants. For more information, visit the website at: www.smileoutfitters.com.

About Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry
Started 17 years ago by Dr. Karson Kupiec, a second-generation orthodontist, Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry is a multi-specialty dental office with locations in Rancho Santa Fe and Imperial Valley, Ca. The office offers comprehensive dental care specializing in orthodontics and pediatrics for both children and adults, using the latest technology in the industry, and having a mission of providing superior family care. Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry is dedicated to bringing a healthy and beautiful smile to you and your child. For more information, visit the website at: www.smileoutfitters.com.

Have your kids had braces?  Or do you have any tips or good stories from when YOU had braces?


  1. Rosie says

    I don’t know if many kids take seriously not eating what they shouldn’t. It is much harder to keep teeth clean, and when the braces come off, there may be cavities, etc. Good post!

  2. Alessandra Lim says

    My daughter had to wear braces because her teeth were all crooked. The orthodontist called it, “big teeth, little jaw.” Our dentist gave us a payment plan so it would be easier to pay for the entire treatment. Oh yes, we had issues with pain and discomfort during the first few weeks but my daughter got used to it.

  3. Debra J Hawkins says

    It is always so crazy to me that they are supposed to see an ortho by the age of 7! I had no idea until my brother became an ortho himself!

  4. Rebecca Swenor says

    This is awesome information for parents about kids and braces. I didn’t know that the kids should see an orthodontist not later than seven. Dental care for anyone is so important and getting braces can be big scary thing for a child. Thanks for sharing the information.

  5. says

    This is an excellent post. When we got braces on our child, we had no idea what to expect. It’s scary as a parent….how much pain is normal….is all this really necessary, etc. I would have loved to have had this post to help educate me.

  6. says

    My grandson is going to have to get braces. I’m going to share your post with his parents. They’ve been checking into different options and I think your post will help them move in the right direction.

  7. Catvills says

    All my kids had to wear dental braces, but it was no big issue because my sister and her husband are both dentists-orthodontists so my kids already knew what they were getting into.

  8. says

    I had to wear a few different braces in my childhood my first was a bit more of a torture device, I couldn’t deal with wearing it for long, one night I went to sleep in it and woke my parents up screaming in agony not long after. My Mum took me to the dentist and he took one look at it (after the orthodontist said it was normal) and referred me else where he was shocked it basically wired my jaw open and pulled my lower jaw forward. The second was no where near as bad did the same job but was in two pieces and he would turn it to little by little to move my jaw. Anyway I guess my tip would be if something feels wrong question it, discomfort is going to happen, pain shouldn’t.

  9. says

    Orthodontics have come so far since even my kids were young! They start the treatments so young now! My daughter had them for a couple of years when she was 12, but my son never needed them.

  10. says

    My son recently got braces for the first time. He’s 15. Lucky for him he only has to have them for a year since his teeth weren’t that bad. But my daughter has terrible teeth and will most likely have them for years. Ugh.

    When my son gets them tightened though, I always make him soup because he says they do get rather sore.

  11. says

    I would think payment plans are crucial! My parents had five kids and we all needed braces. It does scare me with my own! My oldest just lost her first tooth!

  12. says

    Several of our specialist around our area are now telling parents to wait until their children are in their late teens to get braces. The older the children the better they take care of their teeth while going through the process.

  13. says

    Wow! No later than the age of 7?! So young – I was always under the impression that you needed to go much later than that so that all your adult teeth were in.

  14. robin rue says

    I had braces when I was a kid and I remember my parents constantly complaining about the cost LOL. I am hoping neither of my kids need braces.

  15. says

    I’m so thankful I’m past those braces days. I had braces as did two of my kids. I remember how sore my teeth were the day I got braces and every time they were adjusted and I missed popcorn! It was all worth it in the end. You’ve covered all the important info a parent needs before getting braces for their kids.

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