Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Expander

Yesterday Brother Bear got his “expander appliance” (yes, we did brave the black ice long enough to get to the orthodontist's office). For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of shepharding a child or young adult through the process of othodonture work, an expander appliance is a metal gizmo that is semi-permanently attached to the “first” molars in the mouth (Brother Bear’s is upper), designed to widen the jaw. Sounds comfy, doesn’t it? This what it looks like.

The Expander Appliance, installed.

And, this is what it sounds like.

The effects of an expander appliance on speech.

Because his tongue is no longer able to touch his upper pallet comfortably, Brother Bear is going to have to make an adjustment is the way he forms certain language sounds. This was immediately, and hysterically apparent when he said to the technician who had just cemented the gizmo into his mouth, “I schound juscht like Schid.” I thought I was going to have to pick her up off the floor, ‘cause it was lookin’ like she was sure to topple out of her chair, she was laughing so hard. It’s great having kids with “personality”, huh?

Some of the more amusing side-effects of the expander include excess saliva production (we may get to see some drooling for the first time since he was teething), difficulty swallowing (we’ve already experienced the weird sucking noise he makes trying to get liquids, including that excess saliva, to the back of his throat so he can swallow), and…well…difficulty with certain speech sounds. We’ve been assured that these are all temporary conditions, and will subside after a few days. In the mean time, it could be quite entertaining. Come on over if you like.

Oh, yeah, and did you notice the arrows engraved on the expander appliance? Well, that’s to remind me which direction to crank that puppy when I adjust the thing EVERY NIGHT. Yep, I’ve been promoted to “Jr. Orthodontic Technician”, and am now responsible for adjusting Brother Bear’s expander every night. Good thing I‘ve got my fancy beeping watch to remind me I need to do something important at 7:00 pm. I mean, besides giving T-Bear his Lantus. Two beeping reminders for the price of one. Can’t beat that.

So, a few food items Brother Bear will be banned from consuming for the next six to nine months that the expander appliance is in: hard and sticky candy (like there’s any other kind), ice, gum, Doritos and Fritos, pizza crust, raw apples and carrots, popcorn, and sugared carbonated drinks. Oh, and pretty much stick to soft foods and soups until he figures out how to swallow food without choking.

As usual, I’m taking this new development in our family’s evolution as an opportunity to ban yet more junk food from the house. Between Juvenile Diabetes and braces, we’re going to end up with a really healthy diet. Silver lining, folks. Silver lining….

1 comment:

  1. Yikes! That is a long time to wear that thing. No apples or carrots or gum? That would be tough. Good thing Brother has a good attitude!