Adolescents and teens are at the ideal age for orthodontics if necessary, since the body is still growing and teeth/jawbones are easier to manipulate. However, what if your teen or pre-teen is horrified at the idea of having a “brace face?” Working with the right orthodontic team and talking to your child about the benefits and options can help smooth the road.

It’s no surprise that teens are, by nature, emotional and prone to overreacting. For them, it really might seem like their (social) life is over. This is especially true if they’ve seen a friend get teased about braces, have seen bullying scenes in movies, or if they’ll be getting braces right before a big event or life change such as transitioning from middle school to high school.

Your orthodontist should be an excellent mediator and skilled at working with kids. Being resistant to braces is nothing these professionals haven’t seen before! Many times, kids are worried that their braces will look like they sometimes do in movies—massive, garish, and making it impossible to talk clearly, eat, smile, and of course kiss.

It’s very likely that your teen has some incorrect preconceptions about braces, but might not be comfortable sharing that information with you. Letting them talk to the orthodontist, perhaps without you present, gives them an opening to ask questions and get a professional, unbiased opinion.

In some cases, your teen might also be eligible for Invisalign or might be attracted to “colored” braces. Being able to customize and choose different bands every few weeks can definitely liven up the normal orthodontics routine.

Talk about celebrities who have sported braces (some just for looks!) and remind your child regularly of how much healthier their teeth will be when the orthodontics are complete. If your child is self-conscious about crooked or gapped teeth, reminding them of the end results can also be beneficial, but only if they’ve brought up the dislike themselves. After all, you don’t want to initiate or encourage poor self-esteem—but it’s tough to not mention the fact that their grin will soon be even more gorgeous.