Samantha had her orthodontist appointment last Friday afternoon. We were prepared for the worst, trying to head a potentially catastrophic and life-scarring situation off at the pass through role-playing and constant discussion in advance. It was a new doctor for her, one we'd never met before, but who came with words of praise from my own dentist. My dentist failed to mention if he had super-human powers of calming-effect coupled with skin of steel, impervious to the claws of a cornered, frantic and deranged 6-year old, but we thought that calling his office to ask that before our appointment might not be in our best interest.
Why an orthodontist, you may wonder? She's just 6 1/2, after all... Well, Samantha has a pretty severe underbite. Cute now, won't be so cute later, but, even more importantly, it already causes complications with her speech. She speaks very clearly (when she isn't talking so freaking fast!), able to enunciate most letters beautifully. But there are a few letter sounds that she is completely unable to make accurately as a result of the underbite, not the least of which is the "r" sound. We've stopped private speech therapy for now, but will likely pick it up again once she's had the correction. We'd been told by a few people that palate expansion (for the upper palate, to bring it forward, in-line with the lower jaw) needed to happen before a child turned 7, as the palate is more pliable up until that point.
However, as we learned at the appointment, we'll have to wait until both her 6-year molars have grown in (they're coming in now - I saw them when I was flossing her teeth the other day!) and her top front two teeth have fallen out and grown back in. These teeth are all very important for anchoring the appliance in her mouth. He's suggested make our next appointment for a year from now, when we can re-visit the topic.
How'd she do at the appointment?
She dug her heels in and refused to open her mouth for a good 15 minutes, while Steve and the orthodontist talked. Then, all of a sudden, the jaws of the savage beast opened, revealing 20 beautiful, white teeth - the sweet child I know so well had returned to herself and was ready to get on with the exam! Just like that. No bells, no whistles, no cajoling. Just...ready when SHE was ready.
And that, my friends, was that.
We have no illusions about next time, but will continue the home-education we've been providing, hoping that her growing, developing brain will finally see the light above the dentist's chair, will finally be able to reason that it's not so bad. The orthodontist has suggested sedation to take tooth molds, which is not an unrealistic idea. We'll see when the time comes. But in the meantime, I consider this a pretty large victory in the battle of wills.