Behind the Scenes: Smile!


I love this face!  I think she’s beautiful.  Some people say she resembles me, but all I see is her father in that face.  Unfortunately for her, she also inherited her father’s teeth.  They don’t look too bad in the picture, but her two front teeth are “dented” in the middle and sit a little bit sideways.

This picture was taken about a month ago, the day she embarked on orthodontic treatment.  I asked her to look at me and smile so I could take a “before” picture.  She had no idea what was about to happen to her, I’m sure.

After this picture, the orthodontist installed something called a Herbst appliance designed to push her lower jaw forward.  This device consists of two sliding bar contraptions, one on either side of her mouth, held in place by four crowns.  They also put in a palate expander and required me to “turn” it 5 days in a row.  So now I’m a co-conspirator in this legally sanctioned torture?  (But I did it, FYI)

And all this before she even gets her braces.  That should happen later this month.  Lord help us.

So where’s the story in this?  Well, I can imagine how hard it would be for me, a reasonable adult, to have these appliances in my mouth.  I’d learn to work around them knowing that I was working toward the goal of making my teeth straight and my bite normal.  But to do this to my sensitive, extremely picky eater child?  It’s been a nightmare.

She spent the first few days drinking children’s Advil every 6 hours.  Why the liquid?  Because she can’t swallow a pill yet.  That’s right.  She’s 12 and can’t swallow a pill.  Think for a few minutes about that and all it implies.

Normally she eats very few things anyway, and much of it is sugary (so she shouldn’t have it now) and/or crunchy (so she can’t have it now).  Add to this that her mouth is sore and she can’t move her tongue and teeth the way she normally does, and she’ll simply choose not to eat.  At this point, a month later, she is up to chocolate pudding, ice cream, Townhouse crackers, and Pediasure.  (Thank goodness for Pediasure!  This is not our first time to rely on it.)  Any other food (according to her) gets stuck behind the palate expander, which makes her gag and feel like throwing up.  We have a WaterPik that helps some, but my girl really isn’t interested in pushing the limits of what she can and will eat even under the best of circumstances.

I called the orthodontist’s office in a panic and they told me that she’ll get used to it, but all I’m hearing on my end is, “Why can’t I take this out?”  “There are cuts on my tongue!” “Nooooo!  I can’t eat that because it will get stuck in my expander and I’ll throw up!”

We’ve been sentenced to 27-30 months of treatment.  Yeah, I said “sentenced”.  Prayers appreciated.

6 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Smile!

  1. Oh friend… I do not envy you this time. Praying you find more foods that she will eat and that will nourish her little body. On a side note… My daughter too cannot swallow a pill and couldn’t until she was 18 – when she got her wisdom teeth taken out she had to be put on liquid antibiotics – that was HUGE bottle of liquid.

  2. She is so beautiful. Bless her heart and yours too. Thank goodness we never had to deal with braces or anything like that. However, my girl has had several cast, ortho boots, crutches and various other injury related devises that cause her (and me) to ‘whine’ a bit. Praying it gets better soon.

  3. Oh, friend. Prayers for your sweet, beautiful girl. I’m so sorry you both have to go through this…praying the pain will go away soon!

  4. Ugh. I had a palette expander when I was in middle school. I don’t remember food getting stuck underneath it, but I do remember my mother “cranking” it every few days. (She really will adjust, and it really will get better. When mine finally came out I remember being amazed at how HIGH the roof of my mouth actually was!)

  5. Praying for you both. I had to wear headgear at night in 7th grade for a year to help with my severe overbite. It hurt. It was a pain, but I was diligent about it and got to quit the headgear earlier than expected. Just thought it might give a glimmer of hope? Maybe if she does really well with it, she won’t have to use it as long? I know it’s rough, but hang in there! Love to you both!

    • We have an appointment with the orthodontist today, and I suspect they will tell us when she’ll get her braces. That’s assuming she’s made enough progress so far. I knew treatment would be rough, but I think I underestimated her sensitivity to things in her mouth!

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