Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We've Come a Long Way, Baby

I don't remember exactly how old I was when I got braces but it was definitely sometime during the middle school years. I wore them for about 4-5 years and then had a retainer for another 5 years. The bands for my braces actually went all the way around each tooth and had to be "tapped" onto my teeth with a mallet. There was nothing fun about the process. In fact, it seemed barbaric at times.

Fast forward 25 years: Today, at the ripe age of 7, Sparkle got an expander. Yes, we've entered the new world of orthodontics. Or is it orthodontia? Anywho, during a routine dentist appointment for Sparkle when she was 5, the dentist said she had a crossbite that could be easily corrected with something called an expander. He suggested I call the orthodontist sometime in the next 6 months. What? Six months? She's only 5 years old.

Welcome to the new face of orthodontia care. Or is it orthodontics?

The new theory is that you can correct some dental problems while the jaw and teeth are still forming. In Sparkle's case, they are going to widen her jaw line which will correct the crossbite.

Today Sparkle got her expander. It fits in the roof of our mouth, sort of like a retainer. Every night we use a "key" to very gradually turn it so it will expand/push her jaw outward. She will have it for about 9 months. That's it. Now this doesn't mean she won't ever need braces; that will be determined when all her permanent teeth come in.

Unbelievable how far this field has come. Another change is that the kids can custom design many of their appliances, bands and braces in all kinds of crazy colors. That is not possible with the expander but she is getting just two braces on her upper teeth to help pull together the space between her two front teeth that the expander will create. She will be able to pick the color of bands she wants for those. I can already see her flashing a hot pink smile!

Another change: the cost. We are paying about the same amount for 9 months of treatment that my parents paid for my 10 years of treatment. OUCH.

Let me say that again. OUCH.

1 comment:

Tracy W said...

Welcome to the world of ortho! (we call it that to avoid the ia or ic conflict!) Keep lots of tylenol and advil on hand - those expanders can be very uncomfortable. We've done top and bottom expanders for both boys now, and I'm still shocked that the ortho didn't think my boys mouths were big enough - they sounded big enough to me when they started. Now we're on the home stretch, and all I can say it THANK GOD for a good insurance plan and a cooperative billing office staff :) Tell Sparkle that Princess S sends her love and hugs!!!!!