Week 70: When are the braces ready to come off anyway?

Posted by Jill Zimmerman at

Week 70: Dealing with disappointment, when the braces aren't quite ready to come off. 

So, at  the August visit to the orthodontist, Aaron was told to make his next appointment 4 weeks out - because we were "getting close to getting the braces off".  But, then at his last appointment in early September, not only did the braces not come off, we were told to make the next appointment at 6 weeks out again. Wait. What? 

As a parent, I know I should be able to conceal my disappointment, but I was confused and had to say something.

I'm thinking -- Did he do something wrong? Had teeth shifted the wrong way? Why did the progress slow down? I had to ask...

My questions prompted the clinician to go back and consult with the doctor. When she came back we were told that 4 weeks out was alright again, and yes, we were still close- but not "that" close to getting the braces off. There was a little more "fine-tuning" and minor adjustments that needed to be done. Also, the chain came back on (really tightly too) and we were given elastics again - but this time they only needed to be worn at night. Good news and bad news all mixed together and a kid that would be experiencing yet more temporary discomfort. 

Within an hour of getting home after the "dis-appointment", Aaron informs me that the bracket from his upper right molar has come off. He hadn't been eating a no-no food or chewing on a pencil, it just came off. Could it have been from that too-tight chain? When we called to let the orthodontist office know, we were told that particular bracket wasn't crucial at this phase of treatment, and that if the wire/chain wasn't bothering him we didn't need to come in right away. But I felt the need to go back the very next day, just in case the loose end could turn into a painful situation over the weekend.

So after that follow up visit due to the lost bracket, we were told to come back in 3 weeks! I hope it's not because they were afraid to tell me a longer interval... really, if the doctor says more time is needed, we'll wait. (I'm no Frankie Heck here.)

Meanwhile, Aaron is just rolling with it all. He has more patience than I do, thankfully.

I'm just left confused... And I can't help recalling an episode of the TV show, "The Middle", in which Sue Heck finally gets her braces off, and then her perfect teeth shift out of alignment two days later, and she's given a much-needed retainer, and by the end of the episode the whole family is digging in a dumpster searching for the lost retainer.

That reminds me, O'Neil Practice Resource's Retainer Guide addresses that lost retainer issue specifically! The warning to be extra careful with retainers in restaurants and school cafeterias is clearly illustrated. 

Well, hopefully we really are still getting close to the end of braces and beginning of the retention phase... I'll keep you posted. 

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