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BR Parents Blog: Adventures in Orthodontia Begin

Snaggle tooth was a nickname I was called growing up, and my parents’ investment in braces is one of the monetary gifts for which I’m most grateful. My husband also had braces going up, so we were not at all surprised to learn that our eight year old would need her own. We had been putting aside money to make the investment ourselves, and we expect the same for little sister, although her baby teeth are just as straight as can be.

I was in third grade when I had my first round of braces, and my daughter had hers put on this summer, just before she started third grade. But for COVID, her braces would have been put on earlier in the summer. Our consultation with the orthodontist was the very last appointment before the stay-at-home orders took effect in mid-March.

I’m still not comfortable going to a dentist or doctor, but part of accepting life as it is now is accepting there are some risks I can’t avoid. Life has to go on somehow. I know my daughter’s teeth need better alignment for both health and aesthetic reasons. So I put on my big girl panties and made and kept the appointment.

Aside from the pandemic precautions–temperature checks and masks, neither of which bother me–the first appointment to turn my precious first-born baby into a precious brace face was straightforward and efficient. There weren’t many other patients, so social distancing was pretty easy, except for the hygienist and orthodontist who worked on her mouth. Her teeth are so crooked and bite so deep that we will have to do this round of braces in stages. 

Thankfully the aching teeth and related tears I was expecting didn’t come to be–although the novelty of the braces (and picking the fun band colors–pink and black this time!) may have softened any ache. I remember aching teeth for the first couple days after an adjustment, and my own teeth ache after a cleaning (I have a pretty aggressive hygienist right now though). 

Teeth brushing was already a twice-daily battle, and the braces haven’t made things easier. I purchased a few different options for cleaning between the teeth behind the wires, and there have been improvements since I had my own braces and had to thread regular floss between teeth every day. I leave the flossing and brushing oversight to their dad because my personality makes the battle so much worse. So far, she seems able to keep the braces clean, and we may look at investing in a water pick or other more powerful tool if the orthodontist staff suggests it after our next visit.

I know this is only the beginning of our adventures in orthodontia. Because of her hybrid learning schedule, I’ve been able to plan her appointments on the more flexible virtual learning days. I know it will get more complex to make and keep appointments when she’s in school five days a week. (That will happen again someday, right? RIGHT?!) I can’t imagine trying to balance those with a full-time work schedule of my own, so I’m grateful for the flexibility of working from home for now.

Did or do your kids have braces? How do you manage keeping them clean and appointment scheduling? Have the pandemic precautions and changes in school schedules made a difference in your orthodontic care? Any advice for newbies like us? Thanks in advance!

First published on Baton Rouge Parents blog.