Sixteen Year Old Doulas and the Orthodontic Conspiracy

Last week, after my day of running, running and getting nowhere, I had to take Adalia and Tilly to the orthodontist. If you know me in real life, you’ve probably heard my opinion on orthodontics, that it’s all a huge conspiracy. When I was a kid, a few people (me included) had braces. Now, I kid you not, more than half of my friends kids have either had braces, have braces or will be getting them.

Adalia, who out of all my older children has the most perfect looking teeth, has an impacted molar. We’ve known it for years and have just been keeping an eye on it (with our dentist’s blessing). Well it’s finally decided to come through…the roof of her mouth. And Tilly? Well she’s missing a molar entirely. Yes, if the two girls would simply combine efforts and share their errant teeth, I wouldn’t have had to make them appointments for a consultation…

Anyway, of course Adalia informs me that her doula client is being induced the morning of her orthodontic consultation. Maybe this is why most people wait until they’re out of high school to be an on call doula? The appointment was in the afternoon and as the day progressed I really thought we were going to make it…until her client called not half an hour before we were to leave to say things were “picking up” and they’d like her to come…In the end I had her call from the parking lot of the orthodonists office to “check in”.

“Tell them you’re five minutes away and can come, but have a couple of errands to run  and see if that’s okay or if they need you now”. They were fine and told her to go ahead and run her “errands”.

*sigh*

In we went and I had Adalia go first (in case I needed to ditch Tilly and take Adalia to the hospital). The orthodontist said if we wanted the least expensive least invasive treatment, simply waiting until the tooth comes in further and having it pulled was a completely reasonable option. Score one for Team Bergeron.

Then came Tilly.

Tilly’s mouth is  a bit more of a disaster. She has teeth that don’t even touch and crossover and blah, blah blah. I won’t go into all the details, but I will say he quoted a price of $5,100 and two years to fix her teeth. But that’s not why I’m telling this story. I’m telling you this because of what was happening in the other room.

When we walked in to the reception area we could see about four chairs lined up, all filled with kids getting something or other done (I’m not sure what since we were with the orthodontist). And there was a boy who was saying, “Ow…that hurts…stop hurting me….ow…when I say ow that means your hurting me and you need to stop…” This was going on all but the last 10 minutes of our visit (because I heard the lady working on him say, “Okay, you’re all done now” and  he left). Now, whether or not he was in pain or just whining…wouldn’t you say that’s a bit disturbing if you were sitting in a chair near him? Or in the waiting room? Or having a consultation with the orthodonitst? I mean really, who wants to listen to that? Let’s just say it didn’t make a good first impression…

As we left the receptionist asked if I was ready to sign up now to start the orthodontic work…I mean, I just walked in, this was the first orthodontist I’ve met and you expect me to sign away $5,100 and two years? Am I weird to want to think it over and look into other options/orthodontists? I mean, if I were buying a camera or coffee maker I’d spend a little time researching and looking into my options. And this is my child’s mouth…Needless to say, I didn’t sign the contract.

And speaking of teeth and mouths…I was at my dentist’s bright and early yesterday morning to get the missing bracket fixed.

So I sit in the dental chair and one of the newer assistants is there. She is (trying) to get everything set up for the dentist but keeps bumping the chair, tripping over stuff on the floor…seriously. All this time I’m looking at the computer screen with the last x-ray of my tooth on the screen. Only it’s upside down. It’s easy enough to tell since the teeth with the braces are on top and this appears to show teeth on the bottom. {Have you seen the episode of Mr. Bean at the dentist? If not google it now. I was experiencing the 2012 version of his visit}. Then she gets ready to take an x-ray of the tooth then says, “Oops, I forgot, I need to move the chair first”. So she swivels the chair, bumps it a few more times, then proceeds to move the x-ray thing the right side of my mouth.

“The tooth is on the left” I say.

“Are you sure?” she asks. Then proceeds to check my mouth…just in case I’m mixed up about which three teeth have braces on them…

Finally, finally, she moved everything again and tooth x-ray.  When the dentist walked in I told him I was so dedicated I wanted to see him on his very first day back from vacation…I am seriously the patient from you-know-where…My teeth are kind of like those trick candles that won’t go out no matter how many times you blow them…or the Freddy Kruger, who you can never quite kill.

He tells me again, that the next step is to cut the ligaments on top of the root that hold the tooth in my jaw, so it stays put…I made the mistake of asking how he cuts those. “Oh, I just get you numb, slip a scalpel under the gums and cut them. It only takes seconds. Yes, even on you“. He’s all too familiar with my dental catastrophes. When I remind him I’ll be in Seattle with Apollo next week so if there are any dental emergencies he’ll have to come to me, he assures me that he has several dentist friends in Seattle. And then gives me permission to remove anything that’s bothering me and not to worry, he’ll fix it when I get back.

Chuck wondered if that included removing the tooth itself.

{And a little blog business. I’ll be silent for a day or two as my blog officially switches over. There should be few changes to how you view it, just know it may “disappear” for a bit.}

27 thoughts on “Sixteen Year Old Doulas and the Orthodontic Conspiracy

  1. I totally sympathized with the orthodontic stuff! We were fortunate enough to find one that patented a retainer that widens the upper palate and uses springs to push teeth into position, plus it only takes 6 months! With this our plan is to avoid braces on our boys.

  2. Wow! I feel your pain! And I absolutely agree with the orthadontic conspiracy. I have a problem where the roots of the baby teeth don’t dissolve, they just sit and rot. And then the adult teeth grow croockedly in behind them. Our old dentist caught it quickly and every few months would just pull baby teeth whenever he could see the adults were ready. This system worked great. (did you know the tooth fairy pays more for a tooth if it was removed under local anesthetic?) and then we moved. And the new dentist did nothing. I had two baby teeth left, right next to each other. And the adult teeth came in at wacky angles (there was no room for them) and the baby teeth were removed later. I now face a $7500 bill at the orthodontist to fix these two teeth. I wouldnt pay it, except these two teeth are right in the front and very visible when I smile.

      • It worked well for me too. Unfortunately the new dentist had a ‘let the orthodontist fix it’ mentality. I believe he had a contract with one particular orthodontist, because every visit he would give me this orthodontist’s card and tell me I need to set up an appointment. I would have had perfect teeth (well, good enough for me) had the new dentist just pulled the baby teeth when the adult ones were coming. I never really liked him from the beginning, mainly because he looked like Syndrome from the Incredibles.

  3. This hits close to home. I’m a dental hygiene assistant. I understand that braces have become much more mainstream since you were child, but that is largely due to more people being able to afford them/increased insurance coverage, not a global orthodontists’ conspiracy. Braces are not just used to straighten teeth, but to correct improper jaw alignments that may lead to dental problems further down the road. Having straighter teeth and a properly aligned jaw make dental care easier and decrease the possibility of future complications drastically. The human mouth simply isn’t built able to hold all of its teeth properly; braces mitigate the effects of this by aligning the teeth and jaw. Overall, braces are a good investment that positively effect dental health. Braces certainly aren’t necessary for good dental health, and many people still cannot afford them, but to dismiss a dental or medical procedure as a conspiracy because it has become popular is sort of silly, especially when so many people experience life-long benefits from braces.

    • Marianne, I hope you realize that was written mainly tongue in cheek :) However, our kids’ dentist has said he has had his European collegues say to him, “You can always tell an American by their teeth because they’re perfect” referring to, like you

      • No worries! I did pick up on that it was tongue and cheek, it’s just a frustrating sentiment I hear frequently from the parents at work.

        • Marianne, I can imagine! I was just surprised they expected me to sign on the dotted line then and there… I mean that’s a lot of money not to mention my daughter’s mouth and I don’t know the ortho… I will probably take her to at least one more ortho to see if he confers or has a different treatment plan. AND the kid yelling was quite disturbing… Like something straight out of Finding Nemo.

          Sent from my iPhone

  4. I don’t know if I have commented before…but , I love your blog! I had to leave a note today! I just took 2 of my kids to the ortho last week. They both noticed the high presser sales pitch we received! My son got in the car and announced that he didn’t really need a $6100 sweat shirt…The ortho gives the kids a “free” sweat shirt when you sign up! He has an impacted molar a crooked front tooth and a missing canine. They want to move all of his teeth and give him a false tooth until he stops growing and then do an implant. Are you kidding?! I hadn’t even noticed it was missing until the dentist mentioned it. I mentioned that the crooked front tooth had moved into place quite a bit of the last couple of years and he kind of smirked. I think if we leave well enough alone for awhile alot of these issues work themselves out. The woman trying to sell us said she had braces in her 30′s. hmm. Sheri

      • Free iPod!! Wow Arianna’s orthodontics were $8100! And all we got (aside from a beautiful mouth and teeth) was an electric toothbrush. ;) jk of course. My ortho cares for his patients for years included in that price. She will be able to be cared for into her early 20′s. I guess the $8000 over 10+ yrs seems a little easier to swallow. And now that Arianna is all fixed up Naomi is next. Her bill is $7300 because of a 10% for 2nd family member. So we feel your pain. But I will say it was well worth it with Arianna.

  5. Renee, Having worked for an orthodonist for almost 20 years, I can understand the frustration of both being told you really need them, it will be $5100 and OWWW. It was my experience that if you look at more than 2 orthos for treatment, you may be considered “lookyloos” and only want the cheapest option. My opinion, NOT TRUE. Why shouldn’t you get different opinions? Some orthos do removable appliances as well as braces so you don’t have to extract permanent teeth. Others do only braces. Some will do partial treatment as well.
    I think that $5100 is actually a decent price for around here but I could help you out on the names.
    Bye the bye, take some tylenol with you to Seattle as well as salt water rinses.
    Just give me a call.

    • Joan, definitely not looking for a CHEAPER option, just a second opinion. This is the first time I’ve met the orthodontist, I have no way of knowing if this is the best route to go for Tilly or of there are other treatments. Thanks for the input.

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Our daughter (Liberian — huge teeth and tiny mouth) is getting braces on this month. The first ortho was fine – no complaints, the second one took a long time to talk to her, explained every little thing, brought her hot cider, told her how beautiful her teeth and smile are, their office staff was wonderful, Maya talked about their office all day when she didn’t want to say a thing about the first place. Price is the same, we’re going with the second one :).

  6. I know! My stepdaughter’s dentist has an ortho partner. He pulled several of her baby teeth because the adult teeth were “almost coming in”. She never had an issue losing teeth before adult teeth came in and none came in before they fell out. But her mom went with what the dentist said and let him pull it. That was two years ago. That tooth STILL hasn’t come in and the hole has been there so long that her adult teeth shifted and basically guaranteed she’d likely need braces. He wanted to send her for an ortho consult at 8 years old because it’s better to be “proactive”.

    I know that dentists and hygienists have to go through school, but I find the statement that the human mouth isn’t capable of having all our teeth in there without the help of braces preposterous. Whether you believe in evolution or intelligent design, I find it unbelievable that we would be created unable to fit our teeth in our mouths. I do this a lot of the increase is due to less than ethical people padding their bottom line. Sorry, but there you go.

    Wishing you nothing but luck in Seattle.

    • My dentist and I just had this conversation. Enoch has an adult molar that came in with a cavity! The dentist explained that because there was a flap of skin over the molar, food got trapped, he couldn’t clean it, etc. then he said, “it’s frustrating…you would think it should work…the body/teeth…the way they’re designed”. *sigh* And I agree, evolution or intelligent design, it should work :( Our chiropractor is not a fan of routine wisdom tooth extraction. He believes they’re “extras” to replace any list.

      Sent from my iPhone

    • It might be more accurate to say that most humans do not have enough room in their mouths to fully, healthily accommodate all of their teeth. Jaw widths and lengths vary, as does the number of teeth a person may have. What one person is able to accommodate, another person won’t be able to. Teeth shift throughout a lifetime, moving around to accommodate incoming teeth and sort out new placements. It is possible for people to keep all of their teeth in today’s world, provided they have proper care. This is a pretty new thing in human history. Previously, you didn’t make it to adulthood with a full set of teeth, so overcrowding wasn’t really a problem. Now that more and more people are keeping all of their teeth throughout their lifetime, new dental practices to healthily maintain a full set of teeth are necessary. Now, the placement of teeth is considerably more important. Obviously, not everyone needs braces, but they do serve a purpose beyond cosmetic, and it’s not preposterous at all to say the human mouth is not fully equipped to handle 28-32 teeth in a healthy way.

      • Marianne, this is exactly what our chiropractor believes (and I agree). In the past, most likely, some of those teeth would have been lost to decay/accidents. My seven year old is missing an incisor and his teeth are shifting around beautifully. Only time will tell how they end up….

        Sent from my iPhone

  7. Hopefully you won’t need a dentist in Seattle, but if you do, I loved Dr. James Peterson (sen?) in Ballard (on 85th, I believe), if he’s one your dentist knows. I started going to him in college and was so attached that I continued going even when I moved over an hour away (and I’m one who typically needed fillings after every checkup). If Dallas were any closer to Ballard, I’d still be going to him :)

  8. Having just been through braces I’ll give you my advice. I don’t think I needed them but my mom was very persistent on account of the fact that I have the same cross bite she does. She never had braces and has constant jaw pain. My brother on the other hand is an orthodontic nightmare, he had a “spacer” at 8, 4 FULL rooted teeth pulled (so gross to see entire teeth) my mother was told that she couldn’t come in with him during the teeth pulling. They told her he would be asleep. He wasn’t under and 7 years later he still talks about it.

    After the tooth pulling incident we switched doctors. Our “new” one is amazing. He did my braces and my brothers. My brother had to have head gear and then braces. He is getting them off in a few weeks.

    I do think braces are necessary in severe cases, which sounds like the case with your daughter. Find a good orthodontist before you commit. $ 5,100! WOW. Me and my brothers TOTAL bill is about that amount. 2,500 here in UT. In my opinion older doctors are better. And as for the “ouch” well of course its going to hurt, but the kid probably was whining. You’ve had braces so you should know it isn’t that big of deal. Kids these days are wussies. JK

  9. Pingback: Keeping it Real {Large Family} | A Baker's Dozen and Apollo XIV

  10. I remember getting an impacted wisdom tooth removed and having to go to work the next day . . . they gave me a painkiller (pretty little hexagonal pills) that did the trick, and the nurse, with a nod and a wink, advised me to keep the extras–”They’re just great for menstrual cramps!” Okay. I felt fine on the pills, in fact, worrisome to me now, slightly euphoric. But my mouth healed and I put the pills in the bathroom cabinet. Two days later, I heard a shriek from my room-mate, a medical student. She grabbed the pills and–as I yelled “Doooon’t!” poured them into the toiled. I was furious for a moment, until she informed me that one of the side effects for this wonder-drug painkiller, about which she’d just read in a medical journal, was sudden death.
    I’m still around . . . glad I didn’t take that stuff for cramps!

Please share your thoughts!