Our Orthodontist Journey
I have always loved my daughter’s smile. I’m especially fond of the two dimples that appear above her eyebrows the minute a smile starts to spread across her face. I have reminded her on many occasions that her smile is her secret weapon and when she can’t find the right words a smile can go a long way. Being able to smile with confidence is really important, no matter what age, but especially so during adolescence when self-conscious thoughts and feelings are heightened. This is where an orthodontist can sometimes be the answer.
I have recently taken my 12-year-old daughter, Carys, to her first orthodontist appointment. Neither of us quite knew what to expect; how fast or slow would things happen? Who would carry out the work? And how long would the treatment take? These were just a few of the questions we didn’t have the answers to. So I have started to put together a kind of diary of my daughter’s appointments, information, our thoughts and feelings along the way.
NHS or not?
Carys never had any problems with her teeth going from baby to toddler. It was only as she got older that her problems became more obvious. Her adult teeth were overcrowded and growing at wonky angles. She even had one growing in the roof of her mouth! This is when her regular dentist referred her to the orthodontist. This meant being put on a waiting list to establish whether or not she met the criteria to receive treatment on the NHS. We were informed that the waiting time for an initial NHS consultation would be roughly 15 months. The other option offered to my daughter was a private consultation that would only take 6 to 8 weeks to be seen. The charge for this would be £70. We decided to book a private consultation to get things moving.
Orthodontist Appointment One
The first appointment was to establish who would carry out the treatment. Her problems combined with the fact that she had an overbite, something that we weren’t aware of, all meant that she would qualify for the full treatment on the NHS. We were told that Carys would need a fixed brace made up of 6 blocks initially on her upper teeth. Followed by twin block retainers on her upper and lower teeth and then the fixed brace would be extended to the rest of her teeth to finish off! The whole process should take roughly 24 months. Carys took this all in her stride, she was just happy that something was going to be done. However, as she still had one last baby tooth to come out, she was told to come back in 6 months time when they would get going with the work.
Orthodontist Appointment Two
By the time the second appointment came around Carys had lost all of her baby teeth. This appointment was all about taking moulds and having x-rays. (Earrings need to be removed) I watched on as her mouth was rearranged and stretched in all directions but Carys assures me that this process wasn’t painful just uncomfortable. All in all this appointment was very quick and we were in and out within half an hour. We were asked to make the next appointment for 8 weeks time. This particular orthodontic practice has appointments available from 9:00 am with the last one being at 3: 30 pm Monday to Friday. It’s worth noting that if your child is under a particular orthodontist, they may only work certain days of the week. We can only make appointments on a Wednesday or Thursday for example.
Orthodontist Appointment Three
Today was the day that Carys had her braces fitted (she had been on countdown since her last appointment and today could not have come sooner.) Her overwhelming thoughts were not concerned with any pain she might experience but were focussed on what colour her braces should be! When we arrived at the appointment there was a variety of colours to choose from, (something that definitely wasn’t around in my day). She went for a lovely bright blue, but she could have gone for almost any colour of the rainbow. It’s worth having a think about what colour you might like before you arrive at your appointment as the range is vast. However, no need to worry too much as the colours can be changed on a regular basis at each appointment. And if you really can’t make up your mind you can opt for a multicoloured smile!
The second part of this appointment was with the hygienist who talked Carys through the best ways to care for her braces and teeth. She was told that she could continue to use her electric toothbrush but that she would need to change the head on a more regular basis. She is also going to have to use TePe interdental brushes to clean in between the metal of the braces. Finally, she was advised to use a mouthwash once a day. From now on each time Carys brushes her teeth she will need to spend 4 minutes doing so. This means more time spent in the bathroom!
In terms of pain, Carys’ teeth were very sensitive for about 4/5 days after her brace was fitted. She needed her food cut up into tiny pieces and she ate very slowly. (A lot of soup was consumed so you may want to stock up!) The discomfort didn’t last long and she got used to the feel of the actual brace very quickly. However, she did need some painkillers at the start of the process.
Orthodontist Appointment Four
I can’t believe the difference that has been made to Carys’ teeth in just two months! Her teeth are so much straighter already which is great for Carys to see. It validates why we are putting her through what is sometimes quite an uncomfortable process. At today’s appointment, the orthodontist was very pleased with the progress made. She fitted a new thicker wire to her brace and Carys choose pink bands this time! Carys experienced some pain that night but was fine the following day.
We were in and out within ten minutes and were told to make two more appointments two weeks apart (further impressions need to be made.) The next step for Carys is to have twin blocks fitted. These are removable and will fit her top and bottom teeth. They sound like they will take a little while to get used to and the fact that they are removable might prove tricky with the temptation to take them out when the going gets tough!
But for now Carys is happy and we even remembered to get more wax which is great for preventing her brace from rubbing. We would definitely recommend this to any brace wearer!
Orthodontist Appointment Five
Today was the day that Carys had her twin blocks fitted. This type of brace is to correct her overbite and to make sure that Carys’ jaw is in the right place. Whilst we were at the appointment she had plenty of time to practice taking them in and out by herself which was really important. The orthodontist also explained to us that if Carys experienced any soreness and pain over a period of time that we should go back to get the twin blocks adjusted. It was reassuring to hear that wearing this new contraption shouldn’t be a painful experience. (It would otherwise defeat the object of having the twin blocks as they wouldn’t get the wear they need in order to fix her teeth/jaw if they spent more time out than in!)
Carys didn’t experience any discomfort at this appointment and managed to giggle her way through at the thought of how this new brace made her talk! Because the brace pushes her tongue into a different position she will have to slightly adjust her speech, ‘S’s being particularly tricky! And just to make it even harder, the orthodontist explained that initially wearing the twin blocks would make her brain think that she was about to eat and so she would produce extra saliva. Nice.
In order for the twin blocks to do their thing, Carys will have to wear them 24/7 unless she is eating or singing! For the times when she can take them out, she has a special pot to store them in. The orthodontist surgery supplied Carys with hers for a cost of £1.00. We would definitely recommend having one of these for times when you are out of the house and need to keep your brace safe and clean.
In terms of cleaning the twin blocks, we have found the best thing to use are denture tablets which you drop into a mug along with some water and the brace.
Carys has her next appointment booked in for three months time. Hopefully, she will get the spitting and ‘S’s under control by then!
To be continued…