Courtney’s visit to the Dentist yesterday brought about some bad news. Her teeth were in pretty good shape cavity-wise, but the Dentist feels she is in need of braces. We’ve both been going to this same dentist office for the past three or four years that we’ve lived in Canton and, up until now, had only seen one of the two dentists in the office. This was Court’s first encounter with the other dentist who appeared to be shocked that the idea of braces hadn’t been brought up prior to this. The two problems he pointed out were that Court’s teeth were spaced a bit further apart than normal and she had somewhat of a cross-bite where her lower jaw sits a little to the left of her upper jaw when she closes her mouth. The cross-bite was subtle enough that I had never noticed it until he took the time to point it out.
The first problem is one that I’m not sure is much of a problem. Honestly there are many times when I’m attempting to floss that I wish I had more space between my teeth and I can’t think of any serious problems, other than perhaps vainity issues, that could result from having teeth spaced a little further apart than normal. The cross-bite problem seems a little more serious to me, but I’m at a loss as to how big a problem it really is. I’m a bit torn about it all simply because I’m not a big believer in medical proceedures that are largely cosmetic in purpose. My first reaction was “Well, I suppose that means she gets braces put on.” But now that I’ve slept on it I’m not in as big a rush to do it until I put a bit more research into it.
I’ve never had braces growing up so I don’t really know what it’s like to go through the process, but I had several friends who had them and I seem to recall it was largely an unpleasant experience. One friend found it very difficult going as the braces tended to shred the lining of his cheeks whenever he chewed or smiled too hard. Rubber bands used in some arrangements are quite painful when they snapped I was told. And most of the kids I knew with braces put up with a lot of crap from a lot of the kids who didn’t have them and I honestly think that any positive self-image benefit of perfectly straight teeth was probably off-set by all the negative self-image having the braces to get the teeth caused in the first place. Now I realize that braces have probably come a long way since I was growing up, but I still haven’t heard of any kids that are excited about getting them.
This is one of the things I really hate about being a parent because I wouldn’t do this much thinking if the decision were about my own teeth. Flu and colds are easy problems when you’re a parent as it’s immediately apparrent your kid is sick and needs to have something done about it. But teeth spaced a bit too far apart? A cross-bite you haven’t even noticed before now because it was subtle enough it had to be pointed out to you? And even then you had to really look hard to see what the hell the dentist was trying to point out to you. Are these problems that are worth the trauma child-hood braces often bring with them?