Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Orthodontia and Throwing Eye Darts

So, the time finally came.  I caved in to the responsibility of being an adult and took Zoe to the orthodontist.

We got the referral from the dentist about eight months ago, I'm ashamed to say, but there is very little I won't do to avoid bad news or an errand, especially when it's an errand to go get bad news, and especially  especially when all I have to do to avoid it is to be in Denial, which is where I usually find myself anyway.

2007: If I'd known I was going to have a blog
someday, I might've removed the dryer sheet before
taking a picture of her crammed into a laundry basket.
Zoe's been a recreational thumb-sucker her whole life, right up until a few weeks ago when (coincidentally)  she found out she was actually going to go see a doctor about it.  She's been told enough times that thumb sucking isn't good for her teeth to know what was coming - braces.  And apparently all the cartoon characters with braces also have head gear, so there was no convincing her she wasn't going to have head gear, too.

Poor thing was pretty freaked out.  And getting desperate.

On day three of Operation: Avoiding Braces, she announced that she was hardly sucking her thumb at all anymore, and that her teeth seemed to already be realigning themselves.

Sorry, honey.  I wish.

Here's Zoe, watching in horror as a
mandatory video shows us close-ups of
eleventy thousand deformed mouths.
Upon arrival at Doctor Doom's Tooth Pain Emporium, we watched a video about braces.

Five minutes into it, I would have gladly gouged out my own eyes with a rusty spatula to avoid seeing one more mouth held open with fish hooks, showcasing rows of teeth that either stuck straight out like a window awning, or jutted in every direction like the ribs of an umbrella in a tornado.
Please know, if you or a loved one have/had/will have/will have had braces in your lives, I mean no offense.  I'm not talking about you.   I'm talking about the case studies you only see in these dental worst-case-scenario warning materials, the ones so extreme that they look like somebody replaced all their teeth with rows of rotten fence posts and then used their mouth as a pinata.  These people don't even exist, anyway - I know they can't be real because fence posts can't get gingivitis that severe.

Anyway, you can see in the photo that it made quite an impression on Zoe, as well.

Then the doctor came in, and when I stood to shake his hand he said, "Wow, did you play volleyball or basketball or something?" which, as you may or may not know, is an excellent way to get a girl of above-average height to hate you instantly, especially if the most athletic thing she's ever done in her life was along the lines of a celebratory fist pump at a spelling bee.

All was forgiven by Zoe before I could kill him with my eye darts, though, because that's when she learned they had flavored gloves to use during the exam.  Mmmm, latex bubblegum.

I silently gave her permission to bite him.

After rooting around in her mouth for a while and shouting (presumably) tooth-related numbers and letters to the nurse like a Bingo caller, he was ready to give us the Big Results.

Her main problem, as it turns out, wasn't necessarily thumb sucking.

Part of the issue, according to Dr. Doom, is that her lower jaw is too far back, which (he explained while scrutinizing my chin) is usually a genetic trait.   "You might have a little of that yourself," he said to the woman who's been insecure about her smile since she was a kid, after he'd explained how much a thing like that can make you look like an octogenarian without her lower dentures in.

More eye darts.

Part of my  issue is that I can see Zoe's chin with my own eyeballs, and it looks like it's in a perfectly fine spot to me, but what do I know?  The entirety of my orthodontic training came from a nightmarish 10-minute video about people with bleeding gums who look like they've played dental Whac-A-Mole.

The upshot is that he doesn't even want to do anything with her teeth for two or three more years, and that with certain exercises and if she quits sucking her thumb for good, her teeth might really realign themselves to a certain extent, which made me feel relieved, and of course super-happy that I'd spent eight months stressing out about it.

As a bonus, my food-obsessed daughter didn't even ask for a pair of  bubblegum gloves in a to-go box, which was a pleasant surprise.

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Abby said...

I was a thumb sucker for WAY too long in life. I also had braces and from that moment on, I was pretty obsessed with my teeth. I think I wore my retainer for about a year after I was told I "had" to simply because I was paranoid that my teeth would go back. (I had four teeth pulled pre-braces and had to have emergency surgery because my mouth wouldn't stop bleeding, meaning I never wanted to go back.)

That won't happen to your daughter, of course, but it pretty much nixed any thoughts of thumb sucking, biting open bags or taffy consumption. As my gram would say, "You have no ass and you're a spinster!" Oh wait, I meant, "Teeth are jewels, not tools!"

Katie E said...

That picture of her at the orthodontist makes me laugh even though she looks so freaked out. (And the other picture makes me laugh because of your comment - my husband hates it if I post old pictures from when our children were younger and our house was a horrible mess.) I hope she manages to not get braces! My oldest girl really wants some and pointed out that the dentist said she'd probably need them - we told her there's nothing wrong with some slightly crooked teeth, right?

Elizabeth said...

I have a daughter named Zoƫ and she got braces. But not because of thumb sucking or goofy jaws (like I have - and I had braces...twice). In less than a year she was looking much much better. Good luck to your Zoe!
Love your blog!
(I wonder why I can't see your pictures???)

RobynHTV said...

I've heard horror stories about the (um) horrors (I'm having a word shortage today) of braces, but that tops them all! ACKKK!

And once again, evidence that your family must be awesome. :) I'm adding, "Teeth are jewels, not tools" right next to, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean" in my list of Rhyming Things To Nag My Kids About.

RobynHTV said...

Not in my book! Let's just call it "character" and be done with it!

RobynHTV said...

Zoes of the world, unite! Thanks so much for being here - and I don't know anything about computers (a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g), but I know sometimes I don't see my pics if there's a temporary glitch between my blog and the website where I host my photos - or I might be way off, and there's a Computer Person out there laughing hysterically at my attempts at tech talk. In any case, sometimes if you just refresh the page they pop up - I hope it works! :)

Unknown said...

I'm avoiding making an orthodontist appointment for my own daughter, because I don't want to hear bad news either. Now I'm more freaked out than I was before! Seriously, they show scary videos about it?! I think I'll try to pawn this appointment off on my husband.

Marian said...

Your post inspired me to look at my son and say "Hey, did you know thumb sucking is bad for your teeth?" At which point he pulled his thumb out of his mouth and mentally debated whether I was telling the truth or just being mean. You inspired me to be a better parent. Thanks for that!

Shannon said...

Ha you made me wanna bite your orthodontist, but at least he ended it on a high note. My kids 14 and a sh*t ton of his friends got braces when they were like 12 and there was barely anything wrong with their teeth, it's a conspiracy I swear. I, on the other hand, had 4 extra teeth PLUS my grown up canines grew in OVER my baby ones, so yeah...crazy awesome good fun throughout all 4 years of high school ;)

RobynHTV said...

I think the video was related to the Super Special Revolutionary New Braces this ortho offered - it pretty much amounted to the scariest commercial I've ever seen, but probably isn't part of a visit at a normal ortho. :) That being said, I'd still pawn it off if I were you.

RobynHTV said...

You know I'm always here to inspire cruelty and neglect! Hey, I should make that my new tagline...

RobynHTV said...

It sounds like a blast! At least those years aren't awkward or painful in any other way... oh, wait...

Marian said...

No no no, you got it wrong. This was one instance of me NOT being cruel or neglectful. I gave him a fair warning. My job is done, right?

RobynHTV said...

That's how I understand it, but admittedly I used my parenting manual to wipe up a coffee spill so I'm probably the wrong one to ask. I believe the, "I warned you/I told you so" defense does hold up in most parenting situations, though.

5 Things About Nothing Important said...

1) Your smile is lovely and makes me want to smile when I see your little avatar/thumbnail thing-a-majiggy.

2) When my eldest at 4 had to see some dental specialist to have a very expensive capped tooth pulled, after mommy held him down like we were doing an exorcism for the freezing - he wanted a pair of "glubs" more than a sticker and they were just latex flavored!

3) I would have procrastinated about the orthodontist too. In fact I did. Something about parting with enough money to make a down payment on a house will make a lot of people procrastinate.

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

So glad you got a good report today. Two of my 3 kids had braces. Today, I have to say, their smiles are worth it. One more thing - we have a swimming pool; it's in our orthodontist's back yard.

RobynHTV said...

First of all, thank you and I love you. And, I'm glad you're with me on the procrastination - it was borderline a little much, even for me. :)

RobynHTV said...

HA! It's late - that one took me a minute. :)

Unknown said...

Enjoyed this post! I was at the ortho with my six year old on Thursday. He's been going since age 4 due to his cleft palate. They had to remove his appliance, take X-rays and put it back in. When they put it back in he started screaming from the pain. Loud. Enough to scare the teen patients. Which made me cry because I can't imagine what was causing his reaction. I was sitting with my 3 year old on my lap, trying to console my 6 year old, while I was crying. I went to an ortho for 8 years and never screamed once. Granted I started going at age 12 and I thought it was cool because all the popular kids had braces at the time. Glad you won't have to go back for a while and I hope her teeth can realign on their own.

RobynHTV said...

That's absolutely terrible; my heart goes out to you and your boy. One thing I've learned about this is that everyone has such varied experiences - I think we're all just afraid our kid's going to have a bad one, or get scared, or be in pain, and there won't be anything we can do. I've been in your shoes (not at the ortho, but in other scenarios) and I know how hard it is to be sitting by, helpless. Hugs to you!

hilljean said...

HILARIOUS! I actually had ok experiences with the orthodontist, but I do dread having to take my kids in one day. I remember it was like I was always there. Every other week or something like that to get my rubber bands exchanged.

I was a thumb sucker til I was 7 years old. My mom bribed me that if I could keep my thumb out of my mouth for three days she'd give me $5. Obviously we were poor. I don't know what the stakes are these days, but there's always a good sellout.

RobynHTV said...

Whew, I hope my daughter doesn't read that! She'd punch kittens for $5 - I just let her pick something out I the Treat Basket, which as you can imagine is mostly full of junk nobody wants. ;)

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

I know the last thing you want to hear after taking your kid to the orthodontist is a braces horror story but the story involves me and my suffering so I'm going to still go ahead and tell it since I like making these blogging comment things all about me. And my suffering.

As a kid I had braces and one night I was licking the beaters after my mom had made cookies and somehow one of the wires that goes from brace to brace pierced the bottom of my tongue leaving my tongue stuck to the braces and I could no longer talk. After miming to my mom what had happened she took me to an emergency dentist who had to cut my tongue away from the wire.

But don't worry, I can still lick cookie dough beaters without any issues. #bravery

RobynHTV said...

I appreciate your comment, partly because it has filled me with parental terror, but also because it left me too queasy to be hungry for cookie dough.

BreeBree said...

My 13 year old still sucks her fingers. When I tell her to stop, she tells me it is my fault for not breast feeding her long enough! Good God, I seriously hope she stops soon. She definitely has developed an overbite.

RobynHTV said...

That's disheartening when they can come up with such a sophisticated reason why it's YOUR fault! Maybe by the time she quits she'll be grown up and have a job, and then you won't have to pay the insurance deductible. ;)

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