Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Braces and Other Scary Stuff

So J13 needs braces. We've been to the free consultation, had the x-rays/records taken and just this Monday got The Plan.

The Plan is three months with an expander on the roof of his mouth, three months of braces on his top teeth and then 12 - 18 months of this:

Are you kidding me? Here's a better picture:

Let me tell you something -- I miss potty training.

This nasty, horrifying torture devise is known as the Herbst Appliance. Google it if you dare.
This thing is creeping me out. Never mind my kids reaction when he saw it.
Looking at it makes me feel claustrophobic.

No I did not freak out in front of J13. I remained all calm and it's-no-big-deal. But I have pretty much been fetal on the inside since Monday afternoon.

I've been researching it on-line which has not been helpful. Note to self and all of you: Stay away from forums which feature teenagers discussing their feelings about braces.

OK, not all the teens were freaking out about it, but plenty were. One girl said she cried every day for two years.  Lots of kids said it was not big deal once they got used to it.  Several said it was hideous.

I just can't stand the idea of this being in my kid's mouth permanently for 18 months.

I did find an article by an oral surgeon saying he believes it can cause arthritis later in life and other permanent damage to the jaw.

If J13 is willing to wear a headgear every day for 12 hours and rubberbands 24/7 he can skip the Herbst.

My plan is this -- show him pictures of both the Herbst and the headgear and discuss the pros and cons of both and let him decide.

I'm also getting a second and possibly a third opinion. I'm sure the treatment plan will be the same but I'm dishing out $6,000 over the next few years. I'd like to make sure we are with the doctor/staff/office that fits us best.

I'm telling you I am really freaked out by this thing. The braces and all that don't bother me. Maybe because I wore them. Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe not. I'm purposely dragging my kid once a month to a place which is going to cause him pain and discomfort. Even if it's what he needs and is best for him I hate it.

I thought the most painful part would be paying for it, but honestly it's putting him through it. I wore braces and it was not fun.

Have any of your kids worn a Herbst Appliance? I'm really looking for some advice/feedback on this whole ortho thing.

Am I crazy to get two more opinions? I have an appointment tomorrow and one for mid-September. I really want to get the whole thing started, but want to do what's right for J13.


V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

When I was in my early 20s, I got braces to treat a crossbite. Seven teeth pulled at once (four of them wisdom teeth). A palate expanding appliance that gave me a speech impediment and a gap-toothed smile for about 90 days (nice when you're a professional journalist interviewing those in positions of authority on a regular basis.) I also had rubberbands, which were a literal and figurative pain. It was No Fun, especially in my 20s when my teeth were well set and not so ready to move. BUT, I have a beautiful smile, no jaw alignment difficulties.

Here's the deal: if you go with head gear, you will fight with your son every single day about him wearing it. Ditto the rubberbands. The appliance will eliminate that level of stress and keep him on track with his treatment so that the whole process will be over and done with faster. By the time he gets to HS, it will probably be over. But it is a big decision. If you can, go to a university dental school and see what your options are. I will tell you that I've known people who had oral surgery to realign their jaws and it was pretty brutal.

As for the forums--my experience is that all medical forums attract extreme cases--people going through the worst case scenario or those who aren't but are jonesing for attention. People that don't have problems with a treatment generally don't participate in medical forums.

Louise said...

Holy. Cow! We are waiting for our ortho to get the last X-ray for our consultation. Here I was worried about the cost.

First, I think what V-Grrrl said is all very wise.

I wore two kinds of headgear when I had braces. (Age 14.) I was such a warped child that I wore them both (I only had one at a time) 23 hours a day (only off to eat)and turned my 3-year-plan into 1 year. Not kidding. (I would have been nice if I'd worn my retainer so faithfully.)

Now I think you're being wise to show J13 both and the pros and cons. But truth be told, I don't think there are a lot of warped kids out there like I was that faithfully wore their headgear. I know in my office I was the only one that had a wear chart even close. (They put all the cooperative people's charts on a bulletin board. There were maybe 8 out of their entire head-gear-wearing clientele.)

The thing about headgear and rubber bands is that they hurt all the time. When we got our braces tightened monthly, it was 2 or 3 days of soreness, then a reprieve until next month. Headgear and rubber bands put continual pressure on whatever teeth they are aiming at, and they hurt all month long. I think my drive to wear mine so much was that I knew the more I wore it, the sooner I could be finished with it. So V-Grrl's point about fighting with J13 every day is probably not far off.

As far as getting more opinions? You have every right. I'm too lazy to go for a second opinion most of the time, and definitely not a third, but if you have the gumption, I applaud you.

I wish my parents had with my orthodontist. I believe the overall treatment I had was good, but the follow-up wasn't, and my teeth are not perfectly straight, and I still have a severe overbite (which one of the headgear fixed--for a while.).

So you're being an awesome mom to put this much care and concern into your child's well-being. I'm the one who would say, "suck it up." And my kids will be the ones in therapy the rest of their lives after they leave home.

Magpie said...

Ack. I had braces for years, but nothing like that. Rubber bands, yes, but that looks like pistons or something. Gah.

sherilee said...

Wow. That seems a whole different world than the braces I knew in the 80s.

I had the rubber bands/braces/2-3 days of pain per month cycle for about two years. Yes, my gap-toothed smile is back (I was notoriously bad with the retainer), but the overbite is fixed, and I've been assured my gap is part of what makes my smile "me." Ha.

I would get more opinions (the more the merrier!), for sure. Sometimes it's hard to separate what's a MUST for your kid vs. what's needed for the ortho's country club experience, new BMW, cruise, alimony payments, etc. (Sorry if that sounds jaded, but they're making a living, folks.)

King of New York Hacks said...

One of my friends had that for a bit and it helped with his TMJ as I recall..took him a few weeks to get used to it but he is happy today ..good luck :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Good luck. I think your plan to get 2 more opinions is good AND giving your son the options is excellent because 1) he's old enough and 2) it's HIS mouth dealing with it, so his buy in to the solution will be helpful.
Your post made me very thankful that our orthodontist has only recommended pulling baby teeth to alleviate crowding at this point, forestalling braces for a couple years yet.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My kids did variations of rubber bands and head gear--I wore braces and had four kids in treatment and I've never even HEARD of that thing.

We did do two-phase treatment with the first phase being when they were about 7 and the second phase about 12. This is supposed to allow for the major movement in the early years with more opportunity for bone to grow around the teeth in their new position, preventing problems later. It's too late for J13, but you might want to look at it for your younger son.

Good luck!