When I was a kid, braces were something you got in high school … and not a moment before.
Now, I see kids in elementary school rocking the silver badge of honor. What gives?
And, have these kids even lost all of their baby teeth yet?
When our oldest was in fifth grade, she saw all her friends with their super-cool silver mouths and started looking for imperfections in her own smile. Of course, she found many. She still hadn’t gotten all her molars, her wisdom teeth hadn’t even considered emerging, and her skull and jawline were still growing. In short, her teeth were a little crowded.
At her next dentist visit, after I had adamantly denied her pleas for braces (on the premise that any work we did now might get messed up as the rest of her teeth came in and why on Earth would I want to just flush thousands of dollars down the toilet like that), she brought it up to the dentist.
Of course, he made the referral to the orthodontist. The entire time we waited for the appointment date to arrive, I fretted. What if the orthodontist says it’s time? What kind of parent will I Look like if I say, “No, not yet”?
When the big day arrived and they took x-rays, the ortho told us to come back in six months; now wasÂ notÂ the optimal time. At that point, I wanted to kiss his feet. Instead, I asked him to tell us why we were waiting so my daughter could hear it straight from the professional.
He cited the fact that she was still growing and that far too many orthodontists are too quick to slap braces on a kid early. The result? The patient is usually in braces much longer than necessary because their teeth change while they’re encased.
The other thing he said that bears consideration is maturity level. Was my daughter really disciplined enough at the age of ten to avoid popcorn and candy? What about gum? Corn on the cob?
After two more appointments, six months apart, Sydnie’s grin had finished growing. And guess what? It was straight without four thousand dollars worth of metal and rubber bands.
I’m glad we waited and now, looking back, so is she.