A few days ago I finally made a call to the orthodontist here, figuring that it would take a while for them to get us in, but also figuring that it wasn’t a big deal. You may remember our first orthodontic visit and the subsequent tooth extractions, lingual bar insertion, and gum graft; really, poor Chickadee has had enough dental trauma to last a lifetime, already. But mostly, now that all of that is done, we are “watching and waiting” and so I knew there was no rush to get her in to be seen. What comes next is braces, but not for a while. However, I knew we needed to get established with care, and also now Monkey is growing some seriously wonky-looking adult teeth, so I made the call.
“We have a cancellation. How about Thursday?” the nice lady on the phone said. Oh. Soon! Okay, Thursday is fine. So yesterday it was off to the orthodontist.
Both children had eaten their weight in candy and cookies in celebration of Valentine’s Day, so I made them spend an extra long time brushing their teeth before we went.
This office is much like the one we went to back up north—video game stations for the kids, coffee and other beverages for the adults, and the stink of every family that comes through the door having forked over entire college funds. I looked around and sighed with resignation. The children were too busy playing Playstation to notice.
I briefly considered just buying a Playstation for home, instead. Seems like it would be cheaper….
We waited and waited and waited, and just about when I was ready to ask if they’d forgotten about us, they called us back. I handed over Chickadee’s file and the nice assistant clipped it to her chart, then talked to us a bit about how they use a different kind of braces that require less pressure and shorter treatment times, and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but halfway through the informative video Chickadee turned to me and said “I want the DAMON braces!” So at least we know their marketing is rock-solid.
The orthodontist came in and Chickadee got up into the chair. And then I was treated to a rundown of why I am the worst mother on the planet.
Ha! Just kidding! The nice orthodontist would NEVER do that! The guilt was just a fringe benefit to hearing how OUTDATED and DANGEROUS the other ortho’s treatment plan was, and how the extractions and gum graft could’ve been avoided with a more MODERN and GENTLE approach. I think there was more, but by that time I was busy staring deeply into the orthodontist’s eyes and offering him anything, ANYTHING AT ALL, to make it all okay and wipe my memory of Chickadee’s gum graft, which frankly was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever had to sit through.
Eventually he peeled me off of him and concluded that Chickadee will get her braces on within the next year, and after two years of treatment she should be all set. “So she’ll be out of them before high school?” I asked, in disbelief. He nodded.
Chickadee pumped her fist in the air. “YESSSSSSS!” Apparently she has big plans for once boys are no longer icky, and they require her to be braceless.
Then Chickadee hopped down and Monkey got up, and I reiterated (having already explained to the assistant) that I know it’s early for him, but I just figured why not, since we’re here, and maybe he needs a little something for the crowding, but maybe not…?
The orthodontist began barking codes and tooth numbers at the assistant, who commenced typing with gusto. After a minute or two of this, he turned his attention to me.
“You’re at a crossroads, here. Action must be taken now to avoid the same problem—which ended with needing a gum graft—that your daughter had. Now, I’ve already explained to you why I think the sort of extractions she had is just a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. You’re only taking out benign teeth to steal some space, and now you potentially run into problems when the permanent teeth come in. The other option is to reshape the jaw and let nature take its course.”
I nodded, not sure what we were talking about, exactly, but knowing that it sounded sort of expensive.
He gestured for me to come closer, and he began pointing out various things in Monkey’s mouth. “See the crowding here… and here… and there’s no space here at all, but there’s a tooth that needs to come in. And you’ve got this second row of teeth, here, plus the crooked descent of this tooth is entirely due to lack of space.”
I nodded again. Monkey lay placidly in the chair, trying to smile at me around the orthodontist pulling his lips this way and that.
“He’ll need treatment right away, and hopefully that will head off future issues,” he finally concluded. “My assistant will outline the treatment plan for you.”
And then he snapped off his gloves, shook my hand, and was gone.
Leaving the assistant to tell me that my sweet little boy needs BOTH upper and lower expanders, and that will be $3500, please, and how would I like to pay for that?
Oh, but you know I’m exaggerating. In reality she kindly told me I have AN ENTIRE WEEK to determine how I’d like to handle payment.
It was good she explained that part up front, because once she started talking about how I’m going to have to get all up in the roof of Monkey’s mouth every single night to turn a key that will help break his palate in two, I stopped retaining information.
Happy Valentine’s Day, son! How does a semi-permanent oral torture device or two sound?
Monkey was quite stoic while he was taken to another part of the office to have some spacers inserted, and that was really nice, because I didn’t have the heart to tell the nice ladies that when they take his mouth impressions next week he will almost certainly gag and retch. Monkey’s sensory issues are pretty well under control, but he remains VERY sensitive in the mouth (perhaps he was a bird dog in another life?), and any feeling of “too much” causes him to heave. Good times.
After what seemed like forever (but was actually just two hours), we finally headed home. I had thought Chickadee might be a bit put out that her brother had gotten so much attention, but she skipped down the steps and twirled in gleeful little arcs on the way to the car. My mom-radar went off.
“What’s with you?” I asked her.
She cackled. Yes. CACKLED.
“Now Monkey can’t have gum anymore, either! Or sticky candy! Just like me! NO MORE SKITTLES, MONKEY!” And there you have it: proof that misery does indeed love company.
I held my breath. Monkey shrugged. “That’s okay,” he said. “I want to make sure my teeth look good, and that stuff probably isn’t healthy for me, anyway.”
She sagged, just a little, and I bit back a laugh. In fact, the whole exchange was so entertaining, I was a little bit sad that I’m going to have to sell her into slavery to pay for his expanders.