Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Orthodontia Countdown

My daughter is getting her palate expander on October 8th. I attended a consultation with her orthodontist a couple weeks ago. Interestingly, the kid herself didn't even need to be at this appointment. The only thing I needed to bring, apparently, was my checkbook. I had to make a down payment and then the rest will be billed monthly over the next year. Insurance is paying for some of the cost. However, I noted that the amount they are paying is a lifetime limit. I know the kid is likely to need a second set of braces once she has her adult teeth, but apparently she will need to wait for her next lifetime now.

I have to say that the visit was at once harrowing and informative. The orthodontist showed me a plaster cast of my daughter's mouth.  I wish I had taken a photo of it. All I could think of was that old joke about "summer teeth."  Summer here, summer there. Dr. M told me that although he previously thought braces were a possibility, he could confirm that they are now a definite.

The next eighteen months sound super fun:
  • Six months with the expander in her mouth (we have to adjust it daily for the first six weeks or something like that)
  • Head gear for 12 hours a day
  • About a year with the braces
It's all very high tech.  He showed me all kinds of diagrams of my daughter's head and then showed me the data on the projected changes.  I have to admit I felt pretty confident that he can deliver what he's promised. It's still a little daunting, though.

A few days after my meeting with the orthodontist, I saw my friend Sharon at an event. Her daughter has a palate expander currently. She (the daughter) was such a good sport about letting me have a look-see inside her mouth (not that she's thrilled about the hardware - she made a vague "he's not going to get away with this" threat towards her orthodontist). If you took the metal spiral out of a spiral notebook and bent it into an arc (and then shoved it into someone's mouth and cemented it to their teeth) . . . it sort of looks like that.  It goes a lot farther back in the mouth than I would have expected (I think it sits just about where the hard palate meets the soft palate). I'm worried that A will gag on it.  I know that my friend and her daughter had a few rough days in the beginning. Only soft foods, lots of Ibuprofen, etc. I can't say that I'm looking forward to it too much.  What I'm dreading the most is the whole "wear the head gear 12 hours a day" requirement. I can't even get my daughter to finish a math worksheet or pick up her shoes. The odds of her voluntarily wearing a hunk of metal on her face seem pretty slim.

The headgear will look something like this:

The basic plan, as I understand it, is that the expander will essentially re-arrange her top jaw.  Then the headgear will seek to correct the underbite by pulling everything forward.  Then finally the braces will straighten anything that's still crooked. Then I guess we'll see where we are.  One thing that was a little creepy was seeing an x-ray of my daughter's head, showing all the adult teeth that are waiting in the wings.  They're just hanging out in her skull, on top of the baby teeth. She's like a shark or something.

The orthodontist pointed out how one of the adult teeth is pointing in completely the wrong direction.  He called it "the path of eruption" which might be the grossest thing I have ever heard in my life.  He also said that he thinks she might be missing an adult tooth. She has a dental appointment later this year and our regular dentist will take some of those super-fun bitewing x-rays at that time to confirm.

The expander goes in October 8th so look for a suicide note from me about a day or two after that. 

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