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Bracing for the Future

3 March 2009

February was pretty much a wash, blogging-wise. I hope to post more this month, and to actually respond to people’s comments. But I don’t want to linger over my shortcomings, so let’s move on, shall we?

I don’t think I mentioned here that Trixie got braces last month, did I? What an experience that has been! We didn’t do the braces thing when I was a kid (not that we didn’t need it!). For several reasons, I think. First, I don’t think we had dental insurance, let alone orthodontia coverage. Second, the whole “perfect teeth” obsession seems to be mostly an American (perhaps North American? I don’t know what the Canadian default it…) cultural necessity. Since when I was a kid we were still pretty much “fresh off the boat”, braces was not high on the list of our family’s Important Expenses.

I’ve been living vicariously through Trixie’s braces experiences, because everything that’s new to her is new to me, too. You all may not be as surprised by this as me, but: My goodness! getting braces is the same sort of financial venture as purchasing a car. We signed a contract, there was an initial down payment* when the braces were first applied, and we have monthly payments for the next 24 months. And, we’ll be going in every 4-6 weeks for the next two years to have the wires tightened (sort of like the oil changes and tune-ups on your vehicle).

Also, braces has introduced us to a new food group: The Fruit Smoothie. When wires are tightened, your whole mouth hurts. You don’t want to put any sort of pressure on your teeth at all. This means most foods are out of the question. Except things like jello or pudding. There isn’t much nutrition in those choices, so a parent might get a bit nervous and complain, “What’s the use of having straight teeth if it means that you eat more servings of sugary foods and end up with tons of cavities?!”

Aha! If you take some frozen strawberries, some canned pears with their syrup, a cut-up banana, 1/4 block of tofu, a cup of plain yogurt, and some milk, and whirr it all in the blender (which you had been planning to throw out since you never ever used it…), then the entire family can enjoy a delicious protein-rich “meal”. Mmm, mmmm, good.

Orthodontists nowadays allow the kids to choose whatever color bands for the braces that they would like. And since you’re going in every month and a half, your mouth can color-coordinate with the season (pink and red for February; red, white, and blue for July?). I’m looking forward to orange and black for October. Trixie isn’t too keen on the idea yet, but I’m sure I can bring her around.


*Actually, we have haven’t paid for anything yet. Our health plan doesn’t cover orthodontia, but we can open one of those “health savings accounts” with pre-tax dollars. The sign-up period isn’t until April, and we can’t start pulling out money until June. I suggested to the orthodontist that we wait until then to start the braces, but he said he didn’t mind waiting until June to have us pay up what will have been due until then. Nice guy. (Except I don’t really see why orthodontists charge so much money — heck, all he’s done is glue on some hooks, thread through some wire, and extended his hand for payment. I don’t see orthodontia as a fast-moving, ever-changing field like, say, life-saving surgery, so why the big bucks?)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Cateling permalink
    3 March 2009 10:52 am

    Because they can?

    I’ll be living vicariously through your family’s braces experiences for the next 6 months – year; every time I look at my son’s overcrowded toothy grin I see dollar signs. He has a dental check-up in two weeks and I am fully expecting to walk away from that appointment with a orthodontic referral.

  2. 3 March 2009 12:07 pm

    Stay away from the green or yellow bands–it just looks like something is stuck in your teeth.

    I had braces at 17. Paid for them myself while waitressing at the local steak house. I made 95 cents an hour, plus tips. The braces cost me $985!! I have a lot of money in my mouth. In fact, when they were removed, I saved them. That was back in the day when braces were a sterling band that surrounded the entire tooth.

    The two daughters each had braces twice (Braces in two phases–small break in the middle). With the youngest being a Registered Dental Hygienist, I have learned that taking care of your teeth prevents all sorts of illnesses.

  3. 4 March 2009 9:44 am

    I did the braces thing with my oldest, now grown. Who’d have thought that straightening teeth would require a financial conference between two sets of parents? There I sat, next to my husband and across the table from my ex-husband. We all had to sign paperwork about how we would all make payments to the orthodontist, whose kids must all have ended up graduating from Yale. It was like a peace summit. I’m so glad those days are over.

  4. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    4 March 2009 10:38 am

    Cate: OK! We love to be other people’s guinea pigs. (If, as the date of your son’s braces gets closer, you have any questions — just ask.)

    MizMell: Holy cannoli, that was quite a deal you had there! I’ve heard horror stories about staining on embraced teeth (hah! new definition of that word!), so the fear of the enamel gods is strong in Trixie and me right now. And thanks for the advice on green and yellow bands.

    Katharine: You don’t like peace summits? 😉 That does sound like quite a to-do the orthodontist had, there. The Consort and his sisters joke that they helped to subsidize their orthodontist’s nine (!) kids.

  5. 4 March 2009 7:46 pm

    I hate to break it to you, PI, but we were never really considering throwing out the blender.

  6. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    4 March 2009 7:55 pm

    Perhaps when “we” = the Consort we weren’t, but when “we” = Impera and Imperatrix, oh yes we were!

  7. 5 March 2009 9:01 am

    I still have nightmares about orthodontia. Really. Which have translated to dentist *and* dental hygienists. They’re all sadists.

  8. 6 March 2009 11:30 am

    I didn’t have braces either, for the same reasons. Just not an expense we felt was worth it. My youngest started her braces in the US, then continued them here for free! She has other issues too, including a congenitally missing tooth. She is glueing her implant in with super glue.

    And you just reminded me I’m due a trip to the dentist…

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