Four years later

When I got my braces off four years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be back at the orthodontist’s office for more treatment. I figured I’d wear my retainers and go for annual checks.

So here’s what happened: I got my lower braces off at the beginning of 2011. Pretty much the moment they were removed, a small space opened between my bottom two teeth. Although my orthodontist said it would close on its own, it did not. I ended my treatment with an upper Hawley retainer and a lower permanent retainer.

A lot of life stuff happened in the intervening four years. I got engaged, moved to another part of the country for law school, got married, had a baby and graduated from law school. In all of that time, that little space never closed. My permanent retainer popped out of my mouth while I was pregnant, which may have something to do with the weird things that pregnancy can do to your body. I decided that I wanted to have a new removable retainer made, so I found a reputable orthodontist in my new state.

Today, I started a two-month course of treatment that involves less expensive Invisalign trays. This will help close that gap and get me a removable retainer to keep everything in place. But that’s not all! The orthodontist said that my crossbite was caused by my tongue. I hold my tongue in between my jaws, which is not where it is supposed to be. I really need tongue training to prevent my bite from moving. My new orthodontist said most orthodontists don’t really think about the function of the tongue in the long term. Bite instability doesn’t show up right away.

Next week, I’ll be meeting with a specialized speech-language pathologist to evaluate the extent of my problem and come up with a course of treatment. It is going to take at least a year to undue 30 years of tongue positioning. Hooray?

On the plus side, everything else is still in place from my surgery. The new orthodontist thinks my crossbite may resolve itself as my tongue is repositioned. Resolve itself? Where have I heard that before? He did say that he could not recommend braces again for me. A fifth round with brackets is not something I am interested in doing unless there is a serious problem that needs to be fixed. For now, I’m making best friends with this extremely tight faux Invisalign tray and hoping for the best with my tongue.

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