Tuesday, July 29, 2014

brace yourself

A few years ago, at least three or four, we were told by our pediatric dentist that it looked "highly likely" that our triplet children would "benefit from orthodontic treatment."

Our expert dentist was able to decipher by looking at x-rays for teeth that wouldn't even erupt for another few years, that when those teeth did erupt, they'd do so in a highly unorganized fashion.

Two years ago, we were told by our pediatric dentist that the time was RIPE to put our children in orthodontic treatment. But they were only seven and this seemed ridiculously early to me, since our children lose their teeth later than the average child, and at that point, had only lost one or two baby teeth.  But the seed had been planted that braces would be coming soon, so we've been preparing ourselves, at least mentally.

As for financially ... well. If I thought it was expensive to have three babies in diapers at once, that's nothing like having three children in braces at once.  And because I always like to focus on the positive, this experience is undoubtedly preparing us for the shock of seeing our bank account drain when we have three children in college at once. 

Last year, we were referred to what would be the first of five orthodontists that we would consult with regarding the various treatment options.  If I remember correctly, two of the orthodontists suggested that we extract teeth to make room for the teeth that were rapidly descending; and three of the orthodontists suggested that we install palette expanders to make room for the teeth that were rapidly descending.  Neither option sounded particularly good to me, so I ignored all of the advice and prayed that I'd wake up and our children would still be toddlers dancing in circles to This is the Day

Ignoring it didn't help, especially once I saw that the pediatric dentist's were correct and our children's adult teeth really were growing in, Dragonfish Style. My sweet Carolyn's teeth were so crowded in her mouth, her gums were red and inflamed and extremely sensitive to touch.


So I finally concluded that regardless of which approach we took - something must be done soon because there would physically be no room in our children's mouths for all their adult teeth, and their new teeth would be jutting out of at all kinds of funky angles.  We settled on one of the orthodontists that proposed the palette expander because he was highly recommended, and was able to offer us the most significant discount for having three children in treatment at once. 

Two weeks ago, the children had spacers installed on their back molars, and yesterday, they were each fitted with a palette expander. Once we paid the bill, for this first phase of braces which should effectively cover our orthodontist's mortgage through the end of the year - they gave each of our children (and Louie) a stuffed animal. 


Charlie was trained on how he needs to crank open the palette expander every day, for the next 25 days.  He sat perched on a stool in the orthodontist's office, facing our three children who were reclined in dental chairs, and absorbed every word.  "Now make sure that you only crank the palette expander ONCE per day," the technician stressed.  "We've had people misunderstand the instructions or think they can collapse a one-month treatment in to a single night, so they crank the expander 25 times at once."  

The whole palette expander contraption is torturous enough to look at, I can't even imagine the pain of having a whole month of expansions in a single day.  

Baby A:

Baby B (I think that pink stuff is watermelon...):

Baby C:

The palette expander will remain on for at least the next six months.  In four weeks, the children will have braces installed on their top teeth; it is anticipated these braces will remain on from 6 to 18 months.  Once they're removed, the children will be fitted with retainers which they'll wear until the rest of their adult teeth come in, and they are able to have their second phase of braces placed when they're around 13 or so years old.

When I came home from work yesterday, the girls were dancing around the house and giddy about their new lisp.  Charlie had them saying things like, "Seven dwarfs doing handstands on the carpet..." and "Sixty six snakes slithered down the sidewalk..."

Even though he has the green light to eat all the yogurt he wants, William was in despair.

While it absolutely pains me that my son is upset about his orthodontia, and I would trade places with him in a minute if I could and because I cannot, have made sure to keep him current on his Tylenol dosage ... it was an interesting case in comparison, that our girls were dancing and laughing while our son was formulating ways to pull his expander out.  To try and take his mind off the discomfort, I talked to the kids about the theory that the pain threshold / tolerance for girls is higher than it is for boys. And then, to try and give them all a good laugh, I showed them the Man Cold video clip.

The girls thought it was hilarious. 


William, not so much.

My poor little bunny.  :(