Self-Sufficiency Series

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bracing ourselves

Well, yesterday was a momentous day: it was Younger Daughter's first orthodontist appointment.

We've known for some time that braces were inevitable. Her upper teeth are massively crowded and growing out of her gums at odd and creative angles. At first we thought it was because her baby teeth weren't dropping out as they should and crowding her permanent teeth, but a trip to the dentist confirmed that those weird sticking-out-of-her-gums teeth were her permanent ones. Oh dear.

So yesterday we went to the orthodontist and got X-rays and an exam, and the orthodontist showed us some spiffy computerized schematics of the anticipated course of action. Younger Daughter was vastly relieved to learn that she wouldn't have to have any of her overcrowded teeth pulled. Instead the orthodontist showed us how he would gradually widen the palate and jaw to make room for all her teeth to fit.


This is in contrast to orthodontic treatments in the 1970s. I got braces when I was 16, but first they had to pull seven teeth (four molars, two cuspids, and a peg tooth in my palate, if I remember correctly). Then after the braces were installed, I had jaw surgery to correct a severely recessed jaw (my teeth were wired shut for eight weeks). I haven't had a bit of trouble with my jaw or teeth since, so this complicated course of treatment definitely worked.

So Younger Daughter's anticipated treatment is mild by contrast, thank God. Surprisingly, it is also more affordable than we anticipated. Don and I were mentally bracing ourselves to hear a treatment cost of anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 and figured we'd be paying the orthodontist forever. But in fact the entire procedure from start to finish will cost us $5000. While this isn't peanuts, at least it renders it more affordable.

So that's the skinny. The actually installation of the braces won't happen for another month or so, giving us time to brace ourselves for the financial impact. And it will be wonderful for Younger Daughter to have teeth that don't push out her cheeks in an uncomfortable fashion.

20 comments:

  1. Two of my children are in the midst of braces. One of them also had to have their pallet widened. It was very simple and pretty much pain free.

    If you are able, you might inquire with the orthodontist office if they have a prepay discount. We saved over 5% by paying up front rather than at each appointment. It was a shock to the bank account - but 5% saved was worth it.

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  2. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)October 24, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    They do wonders now-a-days! I remember in the early 70's my youngest son had braces that used tiny, thick elastic bands with a retainer. I would find those darn things EVERYWHERE!






































































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  3. Have her wisdom teeth already come in? MIL and FIL spent a pretty penny (back in the 80's/90's) on my lovely husband's teeth. Only to have them all messed up again due to hubby's wisdom teeth coming in later during college. Seems like a bummer they went to all that trouble at the time. Anyway.

    Having learned more about nutrition and its overall impact on us, I'd suggest looking at possible alternate things like widening the palette/dental arch (so there *is* room for all the teeth and they naturally straighten out on their own) and things like that. I'm a bit, um, frugal, and Ramiel Nagel's book Cure Tooth Decay is well worth the price tag (and less expensive than a dentist visit!), lots of information, at least IMO.
    Looking at before and after photos of ALF, SOMA and other things are quite impressive (in some cases, folks' TMJ and migraines are either gone or lessened due to the lack of pressure on the skull bones!). If you've got a month before the visit anyway, it might be worth looking into.

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  4. If there is overcrowding, are you sure no teeth need to be extracted?

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    1. I will be 52 next week and have had my braces on for 17 months. My upper teeth were very crowded and the ortho treatment I am receiving did not require any pulling of teeth. Everthing is being spread out wider and the change is my face is easily perceived.

      The same orthodontist did pull one of my daughters teeth (4 of the 5 kids had/have braces) but we got a second opinion prior to, and they were surprised how much had been done to correct her bite with only one planned extraction.

      Orthodontics is much improved. I'm glad I waited, but I think I waited too long (had to get all the kids done and paid for first), as I broke 4 teeth in one year, the total cost of repair was more than the ortho work that would have prevented the breaking...

      sidetracksusie

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  5. My jaw was too far forward crowding my teeth as well. I ended up having 16 pulled, not including my widsom. Now my son is going through the same thing. Thank goodness for improvements to dentistry. They can move the jaw without too much pain.

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  6. I have been working for an orthodontist for over 15 years. PLEASE, please, please be sure you are seeing an orthodontist and not just a dentist who "practices" orthodontics...big huge difference and the cost really isn't any different. Can't tell you how many patients we have to "re-treat" because the work wasn't done right the first time. You can always go to the website of the American Association of Orthodontist (AAO) to get a list of orthodontists in your area. They also list who is board certified (yes my doctor is).

    A palate expander does wonders (get ready for a gap between her two front teeth - it closes fairly quickly). I'm sure younger daughter will need to wear elastics to help her Class II bite - words can not explain enough how important it is for her to wear her elastics! Did your orthodontist say anything about needing forsus springs or a herbst appliance? They also help with Class II bites. As for extracting teeth - yes, it's still done some - but it's not as necessary as it was 35+ years ago when I had braces - things have improved so much in the orthodontic field since then.

    It's amazing what straight teeth can do for a persons self confidence. It's heart warming to see shy, won't smile or talk patients start treatment and by the time they are done...totally different people -they are ready to take on the world. Good luck.

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  7. That sounds exactly like my son's mouth problems. His first orthodontist appointment (after the consultation) is Nov. 8th. He doesn't chew his food, mostly just swallows. During the consultation, it was revealed that he doesn't chew because it hurts too bad. The orthodontist said they will break his upper palate, then start working on the movement of teeth. He doesn't have his wisdom teeth yet, so I am kind of concerned about it.
    I had braces when I was growing up, late 70s and 80s. I was in ortho care for 11 years. Everything looks so different. Hope it isn't as painful as I remember.
    Glad you are able to get braces for your daughter.

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  8. Our daughter had to have the palate expansion 35 years ago but didn't have to have braces. She LOVED her orthodontist because he took the time to explain every step and told her outright that the adjustments made daily (by her reluctant mother) would hurt. She has nice straight teeth with no further problems. Her two daughters are having to go the expansion then braces route. I, my husband, and our daughter all had to have wisdom teeth extracted due to the wisdom teeth being impacted. This may be the case with the granddaughters. At any rate my daughter has straight teeth and an even bite (the initial reason for the palate expansion). Hopefully this will be repeated with the granddaughters. Their orthodontist (like hers before) take a large down payment ($1000 I think) and allow for monthly payments. Most of them do that. It certainly eases the pain.

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  9. My daughter needed braces...also $5,000. I had to moonlight at walmart for a year to get them paid for...and we caught up on other things too!!

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  10. The responses are LONG. I guess this is really striking home for a lot of people. Sam is going through it too. He had 8 teeth pulled. And we go back to orthodontist in two weeks to see where things are at. Sigh....

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    1. Oh poor Sam... eight teeth, that beats what I went through! How much longer will he need his braces?

      - Patrice

      (Sam is my nephew, for those who are wondering...)

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  11. Very Punny Patrice.

    "Bracing" Aha.....

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  12. My daughter had her palate widened. It didn't really bother her. She did have to have one baby tooth pulled, but the adult tooth was behind it and didn't have room to come through. She will have to have her wisdom teeth removed, and after all her adult teeth are in, we will see if she needs any more work.

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  13. I had to have both upper and lower jaw widened to accomondate my teeth, still had to have braces, and still had issues until my wisdom teeth were pulled when I was 18. On the other hand the ONLY teeth pulled were my wisdom teeth, I just wish we'd done it sooner! Once my wisdom teeth were pulled most of the remaining issues fixed themselves (my wisdom teeth were sideways pushing everything else tighter, lotsa fun).

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  14. We just went through it last year with our kids. My youngest had to have the palate widening. It wasn't too bad for him, just a little sore. The worst part for us (other than having to pay for it) was having to remember to turn the "widener" every night.

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  15. How grateful I am that we live in a time where such things can be done.

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  16. I'm fortunate in that I never had any sort of orthodontics done( I was technically supposed to, but my parents weren't convinced, and felt braces corroded teeth-fine by me, I didn't want 'em)..When I was in high school, a friend of mine had braces(claimed they were tapped into place with a hammer and chisel like gizmo-are they?) Anyhoo, one day he asked to borrow my needlenose pliers and smaller wirecutters. I'm sure you can figure out why-apparently, braces can be (or were at that time) miserable. I have no idea what sort of improvements have been made since then.

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  17. I've had 3 kids go through orthodontics...each with significantly different issues for treatment. Interestingly, they all cost right around...$5,000.
    Reading your post, I have to wonder if $5K is just the number the orthodonture market has decided that most parents will pay?

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  18. My daughter started her orthodontic journey this summer with a herbst (replaces the headgear of old,thank goodness) and a full set of braces. She had to have four wisdom teeth removed too and may need more out. It is so worth the pain and expense now to ensure a healthy mouth in the future.

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