In the other posts of this series, I talked about why my 7-year-old daughter needs orthodontics, why we're not using conventional braces, and some alternatives to conventional braces. Now I'll share our experiences thus far.
Finding the Right Dentist
We do not have any dentists or orthodontists locally that use either lightwire or plastic myofunctional appliances to encourage growth of the dental arches. Using the American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics website, I was able to find a few prospective dentists about 220 miles away from our home, in Albuquerque NM.
One thing that was important to me was finding a practitioner who would be okay with our decision to not expose our daughter to X-rays. We also wanted to find a dentist/orthodontist who made our daughter feel at ease so that she would not dread going to the dentist.We learned just how important it was to interview different care providers, as the two practitioners we met with were completely different.
Two Completely Different Dentists
We met with an orthodontist who told us that he knew better than we did about the X-rays and that we would have to do them no matter what our reasons for not wanting them. That same orthodontist also treated my daughter almost as a non-human entity. He ignored her completely at first, just talking to my husband and myself. He told us that he could accomplish the same thing with either a Crozat or braces, which shows that he really had no idea of the differences between the two methods. And then he proceeded to start manipulating my daughter's head and mouth without talking to her or asking her permission. She was extremely uncomfortable with this dentist, as evidenced by her stiff-as-a-board posture and grabbing my hand in a death grip while the dentist inspected her mouth.
The other practitioner we met with was a pediatric dentist named Dr. Hess. Our experience with Dr. Hess was completely different than our awful experience with the orthodontist. First and foremost, Dr. Hess engaged our daughter in a conversation about unicorns (one of her favorite animals) and he had a very natural manner that set her at ease. Regarding X-rays, Dr. Hess said that although he would like to have them, he would also respect our decision to not have X-rays so long as we signed a waiver. Dr. Hess was very experienced with using appliances that encourage jaw growth, such as Crozats and plastic myofunctional appliances. And then he started talking to me about the importance of breastfeeding in developing proper oral habits, and about the research of Weston A. Price. At this point I knew we had found the right dentist!
My Daughter's Orthodontic Appliance
I was originally interested in getting a lightwire appliance for my daughter, but after discussing the options with Dr. Hess, we decided to use an OrthoTain plastic myofunctional appliance instead. This option is terrific for us because it allows us to have several months between in-office appointments (since we live so far away), with just some short Skype appointments in between as needed.
My daughter started using her OrthoTain appliance just 2&1/2 months ago. While we were still getting into the routine of using the appliance, and not yet being terribly consistent with it,we were pleasantly surprised to see that after one month we could already observe more space between our daughter's top teeth.
Before Treatment - There is no space at all between her upper teeth (the space on the bottom is where a baby tooth has been lost).
After 3.5 weeks of Treatment - There is a new space between two of her upper teeth.
After 5 weeks of treatment - There are spaces on both sides of her upper middle teeth (this was just prior to her losing her top two middle teeth, which is why one of them looks slightly pushed backwards).
After 11 weeks of treatment - Now my daughter has lost her two upper middle teeth, and an additional bottom tooth. There is now plenty of space for her new top teeth that are growing in!