Friday, December 1, 2006


Jo has too many teeth. Well, to be honest, the number of teeth in her mouth is exactly what everyone else has. It's just the space that she has to fit them all in that's lacking.

This news isn't surprising. Dh--who was born with a cleft palate--had extractions and braces and who knows what else, all in the name of lining those choppers up to do the most good. On one particularly rough day, he had 8 teeth pulled. He doesn't have especially good memories of all that dental intervention. I know you're shocked to hear that.

But back to Jo. She had her first orthodontic evaluation today. Not even ten years old and already sitting in the big chair and having teeth counted and x-rays examined and "care plans" formulated. The girl came through with more than flying colors--as usual, she charmed the socks off of the staff. This is the girl who asks if offices have anything they can donate to the poor and goes out of her way to invite folks to church. The girl is a born evangelist with the added gift of encouragement and mercy to go along with it. The orthodontist took an instant liking to her, which almost made it worse when he gave us his final conclusions. I think it would have been easier for him if he hadn't liked her so much.

Five baby teeth have to come out. Five. Can you hear me choking?

After those are out for a few months, Jo will go back in and they'll see if the added space has lessened any of the pressure of the adult teeth that they are surrounding. Regardless, when all of her adult teeth finally come in, they will "selectively remove" a handful to make room. Then they'll start with the braces to realign the rogue teeth that keep sprouting up where they oughtn't.

Even thinking about it hurts. And looking at my dear, sweet Jo in that big chair as the goofy orthodontist pronounced the sentence ... well, to be honest, I thought I was going to throw up. While I have only had one tooth pulled in my lifetime (and it was an abscessed wisdom tooth that I was ready to yank out on my own), it was an experience that I don't want to even imagin my baby going through. The orthodontist looked pained when he told me, and kept apologizing to us both. The boys stood at Jo's feet, each one holding on to the tip of one of her tall barn boots. We were all quiet. All but Jo.

"Well," my little Pollyanna piped up, "at least I get to wait a few years on braces. And by then, they'll have cooler colors for rubber bands, I bet." Jo gave me an inquisitive smile, and I knew what she was thinking. Perched on her little freckled nose are an exceptionally bright pair of glasses (offically, they are "cherry red") that suit her personality--if not my personal sense of style-- to a tee.

The hygenist piped in that our insurance coverage has a higher flat rate for that kind of braces. The good old-fashioned metal studs and wires are still standard.

I told her I didn't care. If my baby girl is going to have to go through that kind of extraction marathon, she can most certainly have whatever kind of braces she wants.

I wonder if rubber bands come in cherry red?

No comments: