Brace(s) Yourself


So that’s the face you know and love on the the morning of the day she got…BRACES!

It all started last July when we went to the dentist and were referred for an ortho appointment, since Zoe’s teeth were in great shape BUT from the x-rays they were concerned about having enough space for her permanent teeth to come in straight. In fact, she MIGHT have a cross-bite on one side, but again, an ortho would decide.

Many months later we finally found an orthodontist with great reviews (and seemingly reasonable pricing), and Bart booked an appointment. Insert the last dentist post where Zoe ended up with cavities, and you’ll know why we were extra thrilled to get those filled that same day – the ortho appointment was the following week!

Bart took Zoe to her orthodontist, and they literally would have put those braces on that same day… for, as it turns out, around $2,000 more than where we ended up. Thanks to my brilliant husband, who was smart enough to talk to our insurance and understand how “contracted pricing” works (though Zoe was INCREDIBLY eager for those braces), we saved quite a chunk of change.

I had assumed they would make a recommendation but not put them on right away. I would never have thought they would put braces on an 8-year-old who still has mostly baby teeth… but expanding the mouth to accommodate for those teeth is apparently better earlier, rather than trying to expand a more formed mouth later.

Of course, figuring out insurance first meant that Zoe had to wait – and don’t think a day passed without her asking when she was going to get her braces… A few weeks later (yes, that’s how long insurance + orthodontist took to figure themselves out), we had our next ortho appointment set.

The morning of that appointment, she insisted I take the picture above (the “before” shot), as though we don’t have a thousand others of her current teeth WITHOUT braces. She was so excited.

She was in fact SO excited that she had the after school program call Bart to make sure he was going to pick her up from school that day to get those braces. Trust issues? That appointment happened right on time, and here is the AFTER shot:


Same spot in the house, same time of day, same backpack, same-ish hair – totally different kid ;) Well, not really. But she was so happy. She asked me to print both pictures for her to bring to school on the next day to show people the before and after, side-by-side (surely they had forgotten what she looked like). And I had been worried she wouldn’t WANT braces?! I sure do NOT remember wanting them when I had them… but then, I was in 7th grade. Guess that’s different.

By the end of day two she had a little irritation inside her cheeks. Oh, and then we all remembered that she had to play TRUMPET with those braces (she just started a few weeks ago, so “play” trumpet is already a stretch). Thankfully, our niece Sophie who played trumpet (and now Mellophone in a high school marching band) both with and without braces taught Zoe some tricks that worked.

By the end of day three she had some pain and was less enthusiastic at breakfast about her braces – in fact, a little grumpy. And we have 18 months to go…

And so, if you know me at all, you know what I did with that. I pulled out the picture of Day One Zoe with Braces and said, “Where did THIS Zoe go? She was so excited to have braces. I want her back.” And she smiled. And we talked about choices and how she could CHOOSE to be that happy girl, and that the pain would subside (and she admitted it wasn’t that bad) – in fact, it just might feel better if she chose to be happy again about those braces.

By the end of the day seven, she said, “Mom. I can’t even tell that I have braces!” And so, we’re on track for Day One Zoe with Braces being the new normal, and I’m AOK with that.

And now we’re all getting trained on what it means to have someone in the family with braces. Here are a few learnings so far:

  • Did you know there is “threader floss” that lets you floss around your braces?
  • And sticks of wax they sell right at the drug store to cover metal pieces that are bothering you? And that you’re not supposed to use the whole stick at once…?

There’s also a long list of things you can’t eat, including:

  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, hard pretzels
  • Sugary food: candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Since we have those 18 months to learn, I’m pretty sure we’ll get used to it all – and so far, she’s been GREAT about flossing and brushing without even being reminded. She’s been so diligent she got in trouble twice at school for forgetting to do it at the right time and being late. So we’ve agreed to brush at school and do all the rest morning and night.

Anyway, braces. We found out from the orthodontist that though this step is important and timely, she may still have to have them again once all her permanent teeth get in… What a racket, right? By then, at least we’ll be trained.

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