Thursday, May 31, 2012

Brace yourself

My pediatrician father-in-law snarkily says that there are two indications for braces: a mouth with teeth and middle-class parents.  Well, Charlie has those two factors.  After getting a palate expander at the beginning of May, he got braces yesterday.

I never had braces, so it's all new to me.  His mother, who did go through this experience and has the nice teeth to prove it, keeps bracing for the steps to be really hard for Charlie.  He very impressively just keeps rolling with it.  I gave him one ibuprofen after they got put on yesterday - which he tried to refuse - and he has not asked for more.  He reacted just as sanguinely to the intrusion of the palate expander; it all is just no big deal.

If you came of age in the 80s as I did, you might be surprised that he's getting them before he turns ten.  Braces seemed like more of an early teens thing when I was a kid.  Apparently, the science has discovered that if a child gets braces when he's nine, the potential exists to repeat the exercise before he reaches maturity.  This produces good outcomes for marinas that cater to orthodontists.

Actually, though, from a social perspective, nine is a better age to get braces than 12.  Charlie's teammates and classmates seem more interested in the wonder of this course of treatment than they are ready to make fun of him.  So much better to get braces when they seem like a cyborg enhancement than a social crippling device.

A little piece of business advice for orthodontists from a paying customer: make up something for the child to do so that the visits last more than 90 seconds.  It will take some of the sting out of the expense of the whole thing.  I know that it takes space-age chemical compounds and specialized equipment to install and adjust braces, but the speed of the appointments is galling.  They don't even need magazines in the waiting area; no one's there long enough to get through an article.  I'd feel better if it seemed like I was paying for a large amount of time my child spends with an expert tinkering around in his mouth.