Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Brace" Yourself for Orthodontic Work

holy headgear....
some of you may laugh, as did I. But having worn headgear myself, empathy spilled out of my eyes from laugh/crying. I have No idea how they got smiling model, unless she was paid well, been home schooled

On a deserted Island.

Either way, it was before she went out into public.
**this is a post that has been in the chutes that I needed to give the gate.
 Post more pics selfie pics of me and my headgear - thank you Torment for capturing those images- when able** 
Well, in my younger years, I had royally messed up teeth, but from the looks of the model above, they were not that bad.. However,because I had J.,  my genes have been handed down. And mixed with other unfortunate mandible genes.
*There is nothing like watching your kid go through the SAME thing you did as a child. Or some other person's kid going through the same thing. *
(And there was nothing like finding a random picture of what orthodontics looked like in 'Silence of the Lambs; style)
The trepidation of  having to go to the Orthodontists is daunting even if the above picture shows how far the profession has come since the late 60's and 70's.

In grade school the words: Dentist and Orthodontist may as well have been interchangeable word/professions. Both were equally scary and the oral helplessness you have under their hands, laying prostrate on your back with no way of escaping, is life altering.
(can you taste, hear, and smell of such work just by me saying the words?
Like nails down my keen chalk board senses!!
All of those Ortho/Dental visits, from almost three decades ago, have come flooding back to my mind.
A plastic reclining chair I would wait in with a blue paper bib clipped around my neck waiting for the Dr. or his assistant to come and drill, poke, prod, manipulate, crunch, apply, in order to
move TEETH.
(Or move you closer and closer to social suicide....)
After spending some time in "the chair" at the very same Orthodontist (de ja vu-ing for me),
Jaden was worked on, much like Frankenstein, and equipment was wadded up into his mouth today and he was set " free" with only a space maintainer and a wire sticking out of his bracket that has bloodied up his tongue.

Despite a lot of wax.
As a mother of a  much needed mandible mavuever; Seeing the X-Rays that decided his fate gave me a jolt. One permament tooth, that has been visibly a problem, was no match for the one beneath the gums.
Like the ice berg beneath the water that the Titanic approached at great speed and subsequently scraped its underbelly along side, there, in J's mouth was a huge disaster in the making. And the majority of it hidden under gums. (like those tricky ice bergs that are small on top and gargantous on the bottom.
The timing could not have been better in to save some pain on down the line, his other teeth, or the potential social ramifications. And by that I mean potential teasing.
Maybe this isn't a big deal of a post to many non dentally challenged folks.
 But having been a kid in grade school with messed up teeth, oh boy. It took being called buck tooth once- in fact I was only called it once, but that did enough damage to make me want to do whatever it took to get that problem put in back in place.
So a swift game plan was drawn up in Dr. E's office after he'd looked at my x-rays. And the serious financial talk was in the office as well. I didn't listen too intently but the number figures caught my attention.
Like my own mother, I sat and shook my head up and down as J.'s informal discussion went down just last week. As with most stories I have been reading online about those who wore headgear; time was of the essence.
In J's case, no jock strap looking head gear like those used in the 70's were required. In fact, one friend of mine had a full head piece she wore to bed and the whole thing seemed down right archaic, and whenever I visited her house, and we hung out in her room it seems I either saw her blue contraption or looked at her comfy quilted bed and imagined her strapped into the device as if it were a bit like a death row or mental institute inmate strapped to a table; one strap over the forehead to keep you in "position."
J's future experience,
one in which involves pulling a couple of his baby teeth to get the ice berg tooth in his mouth to drop down and not crash into the roots of his other teeth, does not involve any overzealous crazy looking outward metal.
Thank goodness
I don't recall being especially teased at school, at home with The Torment- was another story.
However being trapped into a device that seemed like bat wings coming out of my face was not particularly something I looked forward to, despite the absence of teasing.
 Walking alone down the hallway at T.V. elementary made the me feel like I had bull dog chops Instead of hanging down, they were as straight as the wire hangers in my closet and looked like it too.
If anything, back in those day of the pre youtube, google, hand accessible information, absence of HBO and Disney channels in most homes and pure naivety, most of the kids looked at my oral assembly in curious fashion and we all seemed, for the most part, stuck in the same pre-pubescent boat.
*except for my glasses*
With J's fresh mouth X-Ray atop his chest, Dr. E. went through the projected next five years worth of work, in two minutes.
 J. thought all of it was going to happen that day. So you can imagine the drama when
Dr. E said: "These two baby teeth will have to be pulled," marking each one with an X with his pen,  "as you can see this permanent one may drop down or we will need to  surgically go up and lasso it with a rope and anchor it with a spring." (Me paraphrasing and using my own words )
 "then of course eventually these wisdom teeth," pointing to all four with his pen and pointing out how one was laying on its side ready to grow straight into his tongue,
" will have to be pulled to allow room."
The mirror in J's hand started to faulter, and his back started to arch outta the chair a couple of feet.
Meanwhile I am
nodding my head while leaning forward to see inside J's gaping mouth concurring whole-heartedly with the game plan.
J: "I thought I was just getting braces!" he mumbled through the hands and my face in his mouth.
ME chuckling a bit and calmly laying him back down:
"No, of course not today, son! Over the course of several visits with different physicians!"
It has taken me a couple of days, and a website dedicated to stories on folks that had to wear headgear remember my orthodontic years and to fully empathize again with the feeling of dread of having teeth extracted before their time. But only two seconds to understand after checking out some photos online of folks with headgear!
( Even now, I can feel the pull on my teeth and jaw as the rubberbands held fast whenever I turned my neck or strained to see something, a sick twisted joke putting a small, metal piece of archery sideways on a poor kids' mouth.And I am recalling some of the 'comments' from my older brother,
The Torment.)
Losing a tooth is hard enough on its own. Someone taking a pair of pliers and yanking a sound, well rooted tooth takes away The Tooth Fairy's magic by her pre-mature visit.
And since she's been sick since the last tooth, J. doesn't have much fairy dust by way of a few quarters in the pocket of his small pillow falling around him.
(as a side note, isn't it funny that we have that little tradition; putting a pillow under a pillow making it difficult for a Fairy to get a prize in there? )
MY own first few visits to Dr. E were very much wrapped with worry. I was always asking myself if he was gonna pull that tooth pulling card on me or if I'd just go along with the usual pain inflicting process of putting metal in my mouth.
The moment J. was uncomfortable with the gray "spacers" placed between the molars so tight next to eachother you can hardly get the super expensive floss between, I knew we were in for it.
Those "spacers" are to make room for little brackets on your tough teeth to hold back the dam of cascading crooked teeth from falling into place.
Like having a piece of steack in between your teeth that you desparately would like to floss, they stay there until the next visit. Or until it pops out and a re-turn trip to the Ortho is required.
Which happened within ten minutes of J. getting back to school after the first visit.
We jiggity-jigged back to Dr. E and had him place it and J. walked around for two days like he had fine china in his mouth that he was trying to keep from breaking.
So back to when I finally got back in touch we my metal mouth moments in grade school so I could empathize with the sad face that greeted me tonight. Chapped and sore lips from having to hold your mouth open while impressions of your teeth are down, air is blown onto teeth to make cement dry, and Stainless Steel- "Surgical Stainless Steel" is placed in your mouth.
The difference between J. and I- I sat there and went along with the program and J. asks A LOT of questions. Like what the cement is made out of- Phosphouros Something or the Other, and whether it is toxic and if he should eat between now and when he gets his actual braces, which is in two years.

All very important questions.
So tonight I reminisced about wearing headgear, tiny rubberbands that connected the upper jaws teeth to lower teeth and had to be changed out daily. The brackets that have turrets jutting out sideways in your mouth, scraping your cheeks raw. The feeling of the bracket being put around your tooth by having to bite down on a tool that drives that little metal band straight into your gums. Ouch.
It hurts.
It was a pain that previous pain has buried in the past. A pain that future pain would be built and compared upon to help answer the question asked by medical personal: "On a scale from 1-10 where is your pain?"
Even with the Ortho showing J. the lack of roots on the baby teeth to be pulled, he is dreading the moment. Yes, it was all fun and games when they offered him all sorts of flavors to make the impression of his teeth taste good for that minute where you can't breathe when they stuff the marshmellow huge-ness into your mouth because you happen to have stuffed up nostrils.
And then Dr. E did his Dark Side, Star Wars magic on my young Jedi. Which we had to layer with a bunch of wax so he could endure the poking of sharp objects in his mouth for the duration of the whole day.
At my expense we were able to put the pain and future procedures into perspective while giggling uncontrolably,  when I divulged
The Oral Prison
my mouth was in for several years- r ubber bands, spacers, retainers, braces, capped off with a contraption on the OUTSIDE of my face called headgear all made it clear that escaping from Alcatraz would have been easier than anything getting in or out of my mouth.
J:" How did you sleep?"
I had to stop and think about it. Then I recalled how miserable it was to find a good position to sleep unless I wanted the wire to bend and leave a crease on my cheek.
ME: "Like this." and I laid on my back flat and looked up at the same ceiling I looked up at when I wore the thing.
I even shared how one day at recess, someone kicked a big, red dodge ball and it wacked me in the face, bending my headgear and pushing my glasses further into my face. Iit was an event straight out of a Judy Blume book about the travails of Junie B. Jones. 
(which required a trip to the Orthodontist to straighten it.)
For good measure, I hollered out something to the person that did it, or to my friend that the
 "bent wire"
was TWO THOUSAND dollars!
Friend poo, poo-ing my anxiety over the 'broken' gear: "Nu-uh."
I'd heard my parents talk about the expense of the whole thing, not covered by insurance!
ME: "ya-huh!"
(can you imagine that kind of monetary pressure on a kid? Especially back when a lost tooth only garnered a quarter where as inflation has now made it go up??)
Ironcially, J. had a monetary scare as well.
J. thought the four stainless, surgical steel brackets in his mouth were 20,000 dollars due to a conversation Dr. E. had with his assistant about ordering a bunch of supplies while working in his mouth.
no wonder he panicked when the gray rubber spacer popped out of his too tight teeth at school and the receptionist made a call to me telling me about his concern and that the gray, rubber spacer was in a plastic baggie!
We discussed the actual amount of money, which gave him a feeling of relief.
(to comprehend how much money that is, he thinks in terms of how many lawns he'd have to mow.)
 As did my assurance that I had prepared for such a "financial emergency".
I explained the part where insurance would come into play and that was a relief. For me.
 And then we talked about how this would affect everything going forward- how he ate, what he could eat what he wouldn't be able to eat for awhile, and that he probably would not be eating any steak with those tender teeth any time soon.
Although he'd feel like he had and needed to floss it out.
(just an fyi- we are only a day into this and it's affected how he has breathed and we have gone through more wax placements than the norm. due to that dang long wire. Monday can't come soon enough.
Because of my similar experience, I gave him some flossing pointers, talked about how healthy he would be by staying away from lots of sugars and sweets or from crunching on ice which ruins your teeth anyway.

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