Yesterday, after years of waiting, planning, appointments and lots of discussions, we took Lucas to have braces fitted.
The issues: He has a massive over-bite; his bite is too deep; His lower jaw is too far back; his mouth doesn’t have space for all of his teeth; The roof of his mouth is incredibly high and he has an extra set of gums behind his front teeth. His speech and his eating is affected.
He is orally defensive, and as a Visually Impaired child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, it was a very big question whether we should get him braces.
On the one hand- we could argue that we are doing it from a practical point of view- if he eats and speaks better, life would be easier.
Also though, and this one is much harder to voice and admit – it would make him look more ‘normal’. I’m wincing writing this- how very rude of me, judgemental and oppressing. Yet- when we realised he had many disabilities, and would need our support more than the average child, we decided that we would have to make appearance decisions for him, and we felt we owed it to him to help him not only look his best (which no one would argue with), but more- we had to help him fit into societal norms as much as possible.
If aesthetics were the only reason, I’m not sure that we would have put Lucas forward for braces. Perhaps. I know that, having spoken with friends with children with disabilities, most of them wouldn’t do what we’re doing. I’m not sure it’s right, and I hope Lucas sees it as a good thing when he’s older. Right now, he’s not very keen!
We took some photos of him in the dentists chair yesterday, but he has deleted them from his iPad as he was very cross. He has an upper Twin Block Brace which is definitely not an easy start.
It has a very large plastic plate which makes closing his jaw difficult, and its chief job is apparently to create space for the molars to grow into, which will decrease the depth of his bite. As it stands, his lower incisors are practically touching his top gum. It’s causing dribbling, pain and speech issues. It needs to be in 24 hours a day.
That said, we are only on day 2, and he has eaten solid food! He slept ok, and isn’t in very much pain (he has refused pain killers!). He’s very grumpy still, but hasn’t asked for it to be removed (although reinserting it after brushing was tearful!). Best case scenario is he copes well, and we move to a different kind of brace in 3 months, although they aren’t being very forthcoming about the ongoing plan, so I’m half- imagining this:
He was happy to pose for a photo today, and for me to share it. We are really proud of him, and have bought an especially good Bop-It as a reward! We will update his progress so we can follow the journey through.
I shall finish with this from Iain’s Facebook Status:
Lu got his first brace yesterday. He was a bit worried about not being able to eat anything. Sarah said “Can’t have chewing gum, fizzy drinks or toffee and you don’t like any of those things”. Cue Lu sharp intake of breath “What about champagne??!!”. Passing Nurse asked if she could come and stay at our house.
Champagne is fine, right?