How To Make Getting Braces A Positive Force In Your Introverted Teen's Social Life

Health & Medical Blog

In middle school and high school, popularity is life. Students who aren't "popular," although not always physically bullied, are often picked on, teased verbally, and slighted socially. Two of the most important factors in popularity are social ability and a conforming appearance. This means that introverted students (who often choose to spend time reading, or hanging out only with a few close friends) may already be at a disadvantage socially. If your teen is in this situation, getting braces can seem like the final blow. But braces don't have to be a negative social influence. Here are four ways you can make them a positive force in your reserved teen's social life as well as his or her dental life.

1. Start an awareness campaign.

You can initiate a braces-focused, pro-dental health campaign at your teen's school by cooperating with administration and teachers. This campaign could provide presentations to health classes, hang posters, and perhaps even start a dental health competition among the students. Making all students aware of the importance of dental health and braces in particular can help them see braces in a more positive light. Resources for such a campaign may include dental health statistics, infographics, and before-and-after pictures of celebrities who've worn braces. 

2. Let your teen choose.

Even if you can't afford the relatively new clear braces, you can let your teen choose the color of the elastic ties when acquiring traditional metal braces. This can help your teen to really "own" the experience and feel like an important part of the decision-making process. Girls especially often want to make a fashion statement by choosing their favorite color so it'll coordinate with their outfits.

3. Enroll your teen in a self-defense class.

Even if your teen isn't at risk for physical bullying, self-defense abilities can increase classmates' respect and therefore improve social status. In fact, all teens should take self-defense classes so they'll be able to protect themselves later in life. Your teen won't live with you forever, and there will come a time when he or she is beyond your protection. Martial arts is a good choice for self-defense because in addition to the health benefits and self-discipline it entails, it can improve self-confidence and also carries a respected "coolness" factor among teens.

4. Cooperate with your teen's social efforts.

Since the two largest determining factors in popularity are a conforming appearance and social ability, you can work on developing the second of these factors to counterbalance the non-conformist appearance of your teen's braces. Find a group that focuses on something your teen really loves. Maybe he or she has always wanted to join the drama club but couldn't because of transportation issues. Or maybe there isn't an established group for your teen's obsession; you can work with the school to create one! Being regularly involved with a group of like-minded peers can help your teen practice social skills and widen his or her social circle. Make sure your teen is on board with this idea, though; if the topic is your favorite rather than your teen's favorite, or if you're too pushy about it, your teen may withdraw socially and not participate in the group at all, which can be a frustrating experience for everyone.

If you had an awkward experience with your own braces as a teenager, you may remember that getting them made you feel self-conscious and insecure. But using these steps to help teens take ownership of their braces, cut down on the "different" factor, promote dental health, and widen their circles of friends, you can make braces a force for good in every part of your introverted teen's life.

For more information, contact Oasis Orthodontics or a similar organization.


24 March 2015

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