Friday, March 6, 2009

Yoda and the Herbst:
The Orthodontics Consultation

Yesterday, we took my oldest son to see an Orthodontist. He has, what his friends amiably call, buck teeth. Not only do his front teeth hang over his bottom teeth, they angle out.

We've known that we would need to do something, but were kind of waiting for all his baby teeth to come out. In this case, waiting may have made things worse. . .and harder to correct, as I'll explain.
Note to self: Always ask lots of questions and do your research!

No one in my family has had braces before, so all of this is new to us. My husband came, too, ready to listen with me to all the details.

The Office Visit

Let me just say first off, that that Dr. Henderson and his Treatment Coordinator (I won't use her name) were super nice, very patient, and straight forward. After examining his teeth and bite, Dr. Henderson explained that my son's lower jaw would need to be brought forward before we can talk about braces. And this should be done soon, so as to take advantage of any growth my son may have left to do.

It probably should have been done several years ago, while he was 7 or 8 and still growing like a weed. But, hopefully, there will be more growth, or the device may not work and surgery might be required. (I really should have packed some ant-acid tablets in my purse.)

I tried to listen closely, which was not easy since my four-year-old was totally engrossed by everything in the room. In fact, at several points, I had to rescue the teeth models because he was taking great pleasure in making "the skeleton teeth" eat Yoda. Actually, so was my older son, (and husband at times).

What is it they say? Boys don't grow up. . . just older?

The Herbst

Dr. Henderson explained that the first step in what he would like to do is apply a Herbst. (Isn't that an odd name?)

When the nice Treatment Coordinator showed us this model, I had to work at keeping my eyes from bugging out. This is what a Herbst looks like:

The boys thought Yoda should apply The Force. I was kind of thinking the same thing.

Although the side arms look like little hydraulic cylinders, they are actually free sliding. Once the device is fitted in the mouth, little shims will be clipped around the shafts (I think) every so often to force the lower jaw forward as it grows.

Remember, I am new to this, so I may not be saying things exactly right. I told the office staff that I would be writing about it, so if you are reading this, kind Treatment Coordinator, please feel free to correct me! :)

I watched my son's face during the discussion, and remarkably, I couldn't see the fear that I knew was churning just beneath the surface. But I knew it was there, because I was sure feeling it.

Did I tell you that my son has an incredibly STRONG gag reflex? He has lots of trouble with new textures, and an even harder time letting the dental hygienist past his lips.

I kept thinking, How on earth are we going to get him through this? How will he EVER adapt to having that huge thing in his mouth? How much is this going to cost?

Our Decision

It was a lot to think through. But we (my husband and I) felt we needed to go ahead and make the next appointment to take impressions.

Not that we felt totally relaxed about the process. It was more like we felt a resignation to prepare for battle because it needed to be done.

We understood all too well how huge this was going to be for our son. Not a thing about it is going to be easy.

We left pretty quietly. Each lost in our own thoughts.

When the boys asked for lunch, we stopped by Steak and Shake.

Yoda and the Storm Trooper got "Elvis" cars out of the deal, and we kind of had time to debrief.

It turned out to be the stress relief we all needed.
Now What?
The office staff gave us information about the process.

But what I really wanted was to talk with a family who has been there. . .and who has walked this road before.

So, I did a few Google Searches of the Herbst Appliance and came up with some frightful testimonies. I probably shouldn't have done that. O.K., it was a seriously dumb move.

I now have a whole new set of things to worry about . . . and attempt to give over to the Lord.

I'm so glad we serve a big God. (amen??) We are going to need His help getting our son through the next two months of adjustments and changes.

I'm giving this new journey we are setting out on its very own label. I have a suspicion that I'll have much more to chronicle over the next few weeks.

As I realized last night in my searches, there's not much out there as far as information for parents about to have a Herbst placed on their child. Not much positive in the way of actual experience, anyway.

There needs to be more.

If you, or someone you know has had experience with a Herbst, please let me know. Also, if you know of a place for parents to get help in preparing their child for one, please let me know!

Would you think us wimpy for wanting to find a Herbst support group??


the voice of melody said...

I hope everything goes well. God will always give you the strength you need to go through anything.

And Steak and Shake is a favorite here too. Those cars are great!

Kimberly said...

Oh goodness. I will keep y'all in my thoughts and prayers...that your son will handle it well.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I mentioned this post on my blog today!