self esteem problems - teenage daughter with braces and headgear!!!

(32 Posts)
Chantal2009 Mon 11-Nov-13 17:04:49

Hi, apologies but i hope you don't mind but out teenage daughter is started her orthodontic treatment earlier this year. We were at the doctor taking the moulds and X-rays last month and we went back getting updated on the treatment plan, costs etc. What Im trying to get a grip on is not on the actual treatment or medical advice, but more ideas on coping with the social, physical and feeling impact of orthodontic treatment which we are now struggeling with ...

I will explain as it all started off with the orthodontist telling her the different steps and phase, with getting plates, braces, etc.
The two things that came as surprise as i admit we do not know a lot about orthodontic techniques, but first was that she would need to wear elastic bands in her mouth for most if her treatment period...I looked this up and it seems common but she was not that happy about how they would look and then also feel. Even I felt a bit strange, queazy at the thought of having 4 elastics in ones mouth...how do patients and teenagers adapt?

Second which seemed less common was the need after her braces are fitted she would get something called a headgear. To be honest, when i saw the picture she was shown, i was with her her while she was the chair when it was explained, and I could see her reactions, her movements, and fidgeting, and her look, looking almost to see if anyone else would hear in the doctors room, poor child. Even I felt very uneasy. I kept a brave face trying to ask all the right questions, because all she could muster was the odd "ok" ok ... but i could see poor child, her eyes were eventually all glassy and I could sense she wanted to cry. How do you handle emotions and reactions like that?

She was then shown a metal object called Facebow that would be inserted into her mouth and held in place with bands and tubes on her back upper teeth. This would be for 14 to 16 hours a day. The bow would then curve around and protrude from her mouth and be hooked to these straps with elastic bands. The straps would go over the top of her head and around her neck. We were given an example Facebow to hold but i could see she was very uneasy and i know this may sound stupid but she snd I did not even want to hold it, let alone have it worn in her mouth...

The doctor was very helpful, explained everything, and that it would only be a bit sore in the beginning, she would soon get used to it all but it was not the medical side that was the main issue, it was more the emotional, social, and self-conscious aspects that made tough.

She has now been very withdrawn, distant over the last weeks, and we go week after next to start with her braces fitting. I tried to talk to her about it but it came out all wrong but i can see how worried she is about this and how it will feel for her, her self conscious , her friends, what about boys, etc. perhaps we just not good with this stuff but as a teenage it does not seem very pleasant ...can anyone help with this...

Apologies if this is too much but any experience you have had or ideas will be greatly appreciated...

My DC haven't had to have any orthodontic treatment so I'm not that familiar with it.

However in regards to the braces and elastic bands, they are so common amongst teens at school, you hardly notice them, I've been told in the past by lots of the DCs friends that they have them but I would never be able to remember who it was.

In regards to the headgear, I've heard of dcs friends who have to sleep in something but are you saying she would need to wear a visible item during the day, out and about? I suppose 14-16 hours could mean wearing it all the time outside of school but I don't think she can be expected to wear it out socially.

I'd just be really upbeat and positive about it all but listen to her concerns, be as sympathetic and sensitive as possible.

adeucalione Mon 11-Nov-13 18:11:56

My DS had this and my approach was matter-of-fact and pragmatic. I sympathised but did not indulge self pity, just kept reiterating that it had to be done so just get on with it, and that it would be worth it in the end.

I suppose that sounds harsh, but I didn't want him to feel that there was even the slightest possibility of him not having to wear it.

I definitely didn't give the impression that I was horrified at the contraption (though I was) and instead emphasised how lucky he was to live somewhere where cosmetic dental problems are treated without charge.

The worst time was for 2-3 days after fitting when even eating was painful, so buy painkillers and cook soft food.

DS was two years in total, although the amount of metalwork in his mouth reduced over that time, and it was so worth it - he can't believe how much it has changed his face shape and appearance when he looks at old photos now.

And incidentally, he never had any teasing at school or anything like that.

tickingboxes Mon 11-Nov-13 18:16:51

I had elastics but not the headgear. Headgear was considered before I started my treatment at 16 but considered not necessary as the elastics did the job. Elastics were quite common among my friends at school. They kept pinging off or snapping which was irritating but your DD will soon learn to deal with it.

Ask if she only needs to sleep in the headgear - this would be far more easy to transition if so.

I had a facebow and the associated headgear as a teenager. I wore it to bed and after school. Never ever out in public and neither my parents nor my orthodontist expected me to.
In the end it became just something I did. Change into pyjamas or joggers after school, put facebow on and slob out / do homework / watch telly.

Once I was used to it it really was not so bad. And as I said, never in company, only mum / dad / sibling.

It is manageable and most importantly, it is temporary!

My \DD is starting down the long and winding orthodontic path in the UK tomorrow. She's already had eight extractions and has been wearing a spacer for 6 months or so.
She is beyond excited at the thought of getting braces and the associated paraphenalia <she is odd>.
Accordi nng to her, a lot of her peers have some sort of tooth manipultion stuff in their mouths and she is happy she will be part of it.
OP, I think you need to stop worrying and, minimise the affect on her appearance since it is temporary.
Tomorrow is the day for DD. I am very happy she will be getting either low cost or free treatment after the many £££s I've spent in the past.

Chantal2009 Wed 13-Nov-13 07:17:55

Thanks all for the comments and practical advice, yes not out socially but we looking at her waring it to school as this seems to be the most practical way!!! Thanks for the comments on being a bit taken aback (good to know I was not the only one smile

SoupDragon Wed 13-Nov-13 07:29:24

I would say that the 14-16 hours a day would best be done at home.

My 3 have had private orthodontic treatment that meant they had to wear their brace for that kind of time by the time they started secondary school - they put them in when they got home and no one at school knows they wear a brace. It was what the orthodontist recommended.

Your poor DD - and poor you for having to guide her through this.

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Wed 13-Nov-13 07:34:13

I don't think she should be expected to wear any headgear at school. If it's anything like my school was, it would be tantamount to social suicide.

YY to elastics though, I WISH I'd sucked it up and had them as a teenager.

Sorry, not a parent but I had braces and an "apparatus. Both were awful and painful. Choosing the colors of the bands helped. As I lived in the US, the dentist had a halloween party every year

WaitingForMe Wed 13-Nov-13 07:38:16

I went through this and didn't wear it at school. It's painful and horrible enough. However, I have utterly perfect teeth. It's worth it but for the love of god don't make her wear it to school! It's bad enough at sleepovers with your closest friends.

You should do everything to avoid her wearing it at school.

EauPea Wed 13-Nov-13 12:39:01

No need to wear to school, my dd would put her head gear on as soon as she got home from school and keep it on all night, other than showering etc.

We struggled with 'headgear ridge' the state of her wild and curly hair on a morning where the headgear had been all night grin

We followed instructions implicitly, including the retainer after, however her teeth moved back (not quite to original position) very quickly once treatment stopped, so please think long and hard before treatment, as it is not necessarily a permanent fix.

BrianButterfield Wed 13-Nov-13 12:49:54

I've never seen a student wearing headgear at school and it would be best avoided for many reasons. However braces/elastics are part of life for teenagers and not regarded as anything out of the ordinary - I felt bad once for bringing in cake for my year 11 and being told by one lad he couldn't have any because of his braces, but he seemed absolutely fine with it and nobody else mentioned it.

tickingboxes Wed 13-Nov-13 12:59:26

Does anyone have a permanent brace still on? I have one behind my bottom row of front teeth - but it seems quite rare.

Quenelle Wed 13-Nov-13 13:08:13

I had top and bottom braces and headgear. I was supposed to wear the headgear all the time after school and in bed. I didn't like wearing it in public so only wore it in bed and my parents didn't really force me.

My teeth don't stick out as much as they did but they are still very crooked. I regret not wearing the headgear as much as I should have but I would never have worn it to school.

I knew a couple of other kids who had headgear but none of them wore it to school either.

Mrsmorton Wed 13-Nov-13 14:02:02

Headgear is fairly rare in the UK now to be fair. Were you offered other options like extractions?

ticking it's exceptionally common to have permanent retention and I would consider it the gold standard however, if you have concerns, the best person to speak to is your dentist.

Teeth will always move in some way unless they are retained. Maybe not back to their original place but they will move.

Mrsmorton Wed 13-Nov-13 14:04:35

Just to make my point, unless the teeth are held in place, they will always move so if your DC won't wear retainers FOR EVER or doesn't want one stuck to the back of her teeth FOR EVER then it's possibly not worth the hassle. The permanent retainers are pretty much invisible.

tickingboxes Wed 13-Nov-13 19:33:48

Wow, I didn't realise it was common - I just thought since I hadn't heard much about permanent stuck-on back-braces, they weren't usual.

My top teeth haven't moved a jot but I guess my bottom teeth are more rebellious!

Mrsmorton Wed 13-Nov-13 20:30:25

Lower incisors are the worst for moving and crowding in later life. People often blame this on their wisdom teeth but it's simply not the case.
Keep the retainers, it may be that the position of your lower teeth (bottom teeth is a bit well, erm, teeth in your bottom..?) is keeping your top teeth in position. It's so complex, that's why orthodontists are amazing because they make it all look easy...

HobnobLannister Mon 18-Nov-13 17:02:16

It might be a good idea to ask the ortho to tie in her headgear, he does something to the facebow tube parts so the facebow cant be removed, my daughter got headgear a few years ago that she never wore so i asked the ortho if there was a way to tie it in, problem solved. After a few days my daughter was fine with it and no one made fun of her at school, now she is getting it out 2 months earlier than she would have if it wasnt tied in. thats tough love for you.

YoDiggity Mon 18-Nov-13 17:09:01

The braces themselves and the elastic bands are no big deal - so many kids have them now, no-one bats an eyelid.

The headgear I've only ever known people having to wear it at night, but I suppose it depends on the severity of the problem. Can she not try to just try to confine it to when she is in the house, and commit to staying in several evenings a week to give it the required hours?

I think all orthodontists know teenagers are bad at sticking to the rules, but it still works if they don't wear all their shenanigans all the time or exactly when they should - it just takes a lot longer.

HoneyandRum Thu 06-Feb-14 19:39:45

There are alternatives to headgear now such as Carriere Distalizer which is bonded to the upper teeth from the molar to cannine and is placed prior to braces which allows the upper segment of your teeth to move backward. It is common for correcting a bite or overbite which is what headgear is usually for. To create the force needed elastics are used but then you don't need elastics when you move to the braces part of the treatment. It's usually on the teeth for 3-5 months before braces. You can't see the Carriere D. much because it doesn't cover the front four teeth. It is the first stage of orthodontics to correct bite.

joanofarchitrave Thu 06-Feb-14 19:51:43

I wore headgear to school and so did a couple of my classmates. I don't remember being bothered about it tbh but I guess I was at quite a gentle school and it was years ago so perhaps more common. I do remember the first day of having a brace it being really difficult to eat at all, so a bit of support at that point and reassurance it will get better quickly would be helpful. But I did have to remove the brace at the first couple of mealtimes to have anything.

Groovee Thu 06-Feb-14 20:10:11

We've been struggling with everything dd will have to go through. It transpires her jaw hasn't formed properly. So jaw surgery will be required in the future. At the moment she needs surgery to remove an embedded tooth which is now lying above her front teeth. Then braces for 2 years, jaw surgery then further braces work.

Emotionally it's drained and frightened us all but a very relaxed consultant has taken us through it all in a calm manner and answering stupid questions etc.

Dd stupidly googled some of it and freaked herself out so much she made herself ill.

No real advice though. But some of the things they have fired at us has been pretty head spinning.

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