We took Little Miss Crossbite to her first appointment with an orthodontist this morning. We were the first appointment of the day. When we got there, I spotted a bunch of run-of-the mill cars and an Audi in the parking lot. The orthodontist and his staff I assume. I wondered if I should just call the bank and start making payments on the Audi directly. Oh, who am I kidding. That thing is paid in full. It probably only took two or three parents-of-children-with-crooked-teeth to cover that bad boy.
Fancy car aside, the doctor was very nice and did a great job of explaining everything to us. He started by examining our daughter's head and mouth. Then he explained what needs to happen next. We have known almost since her birth that the kid would need orthodontia. It's been in the cards all along. I made P come to the visit because he tends to think of braces as something that's strictly cosmetic. However, I think he now understands that having a misaligned jaw means that our daughter's teeth will never wear correctly. I did learn a lot during the consultation. I always thought that the problem was that the kid's lower jaw is too big/wide. However, it's more a matter of her top jaw being too small/narrow. So, the first step will be a palate expander.
A had been very giggly and silly right up until the moment when she saw the little video of the palate expander. She got pretty serious after she saw the device that will be installed in her mouth in a month or two. After the expander is installed, we will have to adjust it at home each day. This expansion process needs to be done at her current age because her bones aren't fused yet. If we wait until she is a teenager, it gets much harder to move bones and teeth around. I asked about a head transplant but Dr. M said he doesn't really do those.
Once the palate has been expanded, the next step is . . . headgear. I remember when my niece had headgear. It took an act of Congress to get her to wear it at night. So, I can't say that I'm looking forward to it. The photos of this contraption remind me of some stuff I saw in the Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago (like drills for the skull and so forth). It will attach to her chin and her forehead and then a series of rubber bands will seek to pull her upper jaw outward. Sounds like fun, right?
Finally, when all of that is done, the orthodontist will take a look to see where the teeth are. Right now, the incisors on the top are too far back because they are locked in place by the corresponding teeth on the lower jaw. If the teeth haven't aligned themselves voluntarily, she will need limited braces to bring them in line.
Once all of this is done (may take up to a year but we're hoping to be done within six months if she doesn't need the braces), then we just wait until she is a few years older and then see what's what. Once she has all of her adult teeth, we'll know if everything is lined up properly. If not, then I guess we'll be in for some more fun.
We left the office with a paper that lists a whole slew of upcoming appointments. Oh, and a financial plan, too. It's expensive but it's actually not as bad as I'd feared. Insurance will cover some, we have to make an initial down payment, and then we'll be on a payment plan for the rest.
We're adding it to her tab.