Monday, March 8, 2010


A few weeks ago N8 had his teeth cleaned - his six month cleaning. In the five years we've been using this dentist office, we've never actually seen the dentist. The boys always see our favorite hygienist, get their teeth cleaned and out we go. I always found it unusual as ever other dentist I've ever been to would have the hygienist clean the teeth and then the dentist would come in, take a look around, and call it good - all in the same visit. 

However, this office doesn't for some reason. So the hygienist mentioned that N8 really needed to see the dentist so I bit the bullet and made an appointment for him for the next week. And yes, it was a separate charge. ::sigh:: 

The dentist discovered a small cavity on one of N8's baby teeth. All of my boys were late in getting their baby teeth. N13, in fact, still has some of his baby teeth - four or five I think. N8 has about 15 still in his mouth. And J6 has yet to loose even one. The dentist and I then had a slightly coded conversation in how he would go about filling it and fixing it. He would recommend fixing it simply because it doesn't look like it's going to fall out any time soon and he wants to avoid an abscessed tooth. 

Then the dentist looked in N8's mouth. 


N8's teeth - for want of a better term - are a mess. The back teeth of his upper jaw land inside his lower jaw. Some of his baby teeth (top canines) are coming straight out - there is no room for them between the other baby teeth and the adult teeth in his mouth. His lower jaw isn't as bad but there is still some crowding. He got his mamma's mouth that's for sure!

In fact, I remember having a number of my teeth pulled when I was a child in order to make room in my mouth. As an adult I was told by a former dentist (we have since moved) I had a "small mouth and big teeth." My lower jaw has some really crooked teeth and my upper jaw is only slightly better. My older sister had the same issue she tells me, but the pulling of teeth worked in her case since her's are nicely matched up in a neat little row.

Instead of filling the cavity, we were sent off for an evaluation by an orthodontist. I have to say that N8 did excellent. Never having gone through this before at all I didn't even know how to prepare him for any of it. We arrived and the orthodontist just looked him over. He made notes. He poked here. He pulled there. He showed me some of the issues with N8's teeth and jaw. He offered to have molds done right then. I figured we might as well. There were obviously some issues that needed to be fixed. 

N8 did wonderfully. They took some digital photos. The camera was having difficulty focusing at one point and the poor child had those cheek expander thingies in - that show all the gum - pulling to show the sides of the teeth for what seemed like forever. He never complained. They did a bunch of x-rays. No problem. They did a wax mold of his bite. Not a biggie. Then they wanted to do full molds of his teeth and jaw. Oh my. He is such a trooper. He began to cry when the first one went in but managed okay. He has a hair-trigger gag reflex and I was looking for the closest trash can but he held it together. Then the tech told him we had to do the upper jaw which was harder than the one he had just done. Oh my again. He pulled through though and did great, but was so ready to go home!

We headed back today to find out what the recommendation for treatment would be. Here's the low down:
  • a palate expander for the top jaw. "Donut" spacers would be inserted. A week later they would be taken out and metal clamps put on two back teeth and two front teeth. A mold would be made and all then removed. A few weeks later we would return and have the "donut" spacers put on again. A week later go back, have them taken off, and the expander placed. This would be turned morning and night for about a month and then locked in place for six months. The plan is for this to help his upper jaw line up better with his lower jaw and made room for all of his teeth up there.
  • A "lip bumper" for the lower jaw. This would act as a place holder for his back teeth. It would keep them in place so they wouldn't move forward and try to take over other spots for teeth. 
  • And 4 braces on the top four teeth to hold them in place after all is said and done. 

This is considered "Phase 1" and is estimated to last about 22 months. And the total cost for all of this? $4100. Yikes!

Now, yes, they offer a payment plan ($800 down & $150 a month for the whole 22 months interest free). That would be the $4100. If we pay cash, we get a 7% discount. If we pay using a debit/credit card, we get a 2% discount.

The question I have for all of you is this...has anyone had anything like this done to an 8-9 year old child? Does that cost seem reasonable? I know it will vary by state (we're in Maine) but we want to be sure we're not paying significantly more than we need to. We do plan to put this off for about six months in order to save up towards the cost. The orthodontist thought that was a reasonable amount of time. 

We ARE going to have his teeth fixed, but I just need to hear some "been-there-done-that" stories and "yes, that's about what we paid" type stories. ;-)


And prayers for N8 would be wonderful. After the orthodontist finished explaining everything he offered to start it all right then and there by putting the spacers on. Poor N8 got a horrible look in his eye and began to softly cry. I told him that no, we would wait. Aside from the money factor, I had promised N8 that today was a "no touching" appointment. It was just for talking. He was very relieved to hear that. 


  1. Ouch, that's expensive. I have no clue about this kind of orthodontics, so I can't offer advice, but I'll offer my prayers.

    It looks like a very involved process. I wonder why they just couldn't pull a few teeth? I had crowding as well - had four teeth removed and braces in my late teens. I still need some wisdom teeth gone, but I've been putting it off!

  2. N8 is blessed to have such a wonderful Mommy who kept her word about the no touch appt. It's spendy to fix teeth.....not sure if that's about right nor's a lot but then he's having more than braces done....hmmmm.

  3. I'd say the cost is good--about the same or maybe a little less than we are paying. Two of my kids (so far) have had the palatal expander. One had it at age 13, when he started the whole process. He got that AND braces on the same day. Lost 10 lbs in a month. (Didn't need to, either!) He had to have 3 baby teeth pulled before they started that all. Teeth turned out great.

    Daughter got the expander at age 11 WAY before all her baby teeth fell out. After wearing that awhile, she had to wear a retainer to keep her palate spread. It was another year until she actually got braces, at age. 12.5. She still has 3 baby teeth. She also has that top doohickey that goes on the roof of her mouth, but not the bottom one.

    The palatal expander wasn't as horrible as it seems. It is pretty painful for them as you adjust it, so we went through a lot of tylenol. The whole process really isn't horrible, although my kids were a bit older. I'm a little surprised that they are started him at age 8, though. Seems like there would be a lot more bone change to happen. But what do I know??

    Anyway--price seems right to me.

  4. Lisa -

    I had some of what N is dealing with right now. Nothing got corrected for me as a child. While I didn't have the lower teeth issue, I DID have the same problem with my upper palate and jaw being smaller than the lower one. This caused a LOT of problems, and at 22, I bit the bullet (so to speak) and got it corrected (still have my palate expander in my jewelry box as a "souvenir", lol). It cost me 5K. I had the expander in for a year. At the same time, braces were put on my lower teeth, trying to rotate all the back ones that were twisted (instead of being crowded out, they were turned sideways, making for a difficult bite) After a year (so long because I was an adult and the palate tissue was more developed) of the palate expander (which may rub his tongue raw if it's wide open, which mine was - my upper palate was expanded 1 1/2 inches!), it was removed (I had a HUGE gap in my front teeth), and I had braces places to shift those teeth to their correct position, and put other teeth into alignment. This took another year.

    I didn't have any insurance to pay for it; I was making about $20K a year and living on my own with all the debt that comes with it. But it was likely one of THE BEST THINGS I ever did.

    My suggestion is that you get it done now, while N is still young and the teeth/palate will shift more easily. It's NOT cheap, but if you consider what I paid 20 years ago, it's a decent price quote. If you wait too long, N may suffer other issues related to teeth positioning, such as TMJ, migraines, cross-bites, poor tooth wear.

    I guess I'm saying you need to bite this bullet too.
    (oh, and if you DO this, I HIGHLY suggest you invest in a water pik's the ONLY thing that will get the gack out from between the expander and palate, and out of the braces, too)


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