By Megan Wirts
What is a smile worth?
Some would say that it’s priceless. Some have even said that they are free. Well, none of that is true, at least not in my house. There are few phrases that will strike fear in a parent’s heart and put intense strain on their bank account as, “Your child needs braces”.
NOOOOOOO! NOT THE B WORD!
Words and phrases like braces, orthodontist and phase 1 (there will be more than one phase), are enough to make a dad openly cry in the orthodontist’s office.
I don’t know a single parent who while snuggling their tiny toothless newborn looks dreamily at them and thinks, “I sure hope you have a significant underbite and teeth crowding, I can’t wait to see you with braces.” Not a single one. But it happens to the best of us. There is nothing you can do to avoid it when you are genetically blessed with overbites and crooked teeth. I knew that it was in the cards for us as soon as my daughter’s adult teeth started to show up. I figured we would have plenty of time to prepare for it, but she apparently is a fast tooth loser and when she was 7 years old she had her first orthodontic appointment. I had done my research, I knew it was going to be pricey. The thing that really surprised me was how little our dental insurance would contribute. Seriously insurance companies?!?! It’s not nearly enough. Which leaves us parents to contemplate doing it ourselves, with some pliers, paperclips and rubber bands, or getting on a payment plan.
We chose the payment plan.
She was finished with all three phases (I told you there would be more than one), by the time she was a 6th grader, just in time for her little brother to start seeing the orthodontist. Yay! (insert heavy sarcasm). We had truly hoped that our boy would be able to bypass the braces, but he too inherited my genetic disposition for big front teeth and crooked cuspids. I’ll be honest, after we left his first orthodontic appointment, I was very grateful to have only two children. Bless those of you with large families and crooked smiles, I hope your insurance is better than ours.
I love my children and I am happy to be able to afford even the payment plan to give them beautiful smiles, but I really would rather spend that $10,000 I put in their mouths on a swimming pool or a tropical vacation. I could buy a fancy camper and not have to sleep in a tent when we go camping or even a new car. I could get myself a new wardrobe, including fancy shoes and designer purses. I could get new furniture. We could have gone to Disney World! Heck, I could have even put that money in their college fund!! But no, I am an excellent mother with priorities and responsibilities and so they both got braces.
Our son has had his braces for about one week now. He wanted them. Desperately. Some kids are mean, and they teased him endlessly for having front teeth that were not exactly straight. He would come home and tell me about it and I would immediately want to know their names, where they lived and who their parents were! Then he and my husband would calm the mama bear in me down and we would give him a pep talk about how it doesn’t matter what those jerk faces say (ok I didn’t say jerk faces…it might have been worse) and that he is more than just his teeth. He is a brilliant, smart, kind hearted, funny and all around amazing kid. Then we armed him with some good comebacks if those little you know what’s, decide to pick on my kid again and we also promised him that we would get him braces when the time came.
Now, whenever either of them complains about anything, like not going to Florida or Myrtle Beach, like everyone else did over Spring Break, I tell them to, “Look in the mirror and smile. There’s your spring break. It’s in your mouth.”
“Now go brush your teeth. Those things are expensive!”
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