Friday, August 17, 2012

Genetic roulette

You really can't help the genes you inherited.

And you can't help the genes your kids have either.  It's not your fault what you passed on.  I maintain it's not your fault that you fell in love with someone with wonky genes to pass on either.  Nor is it your fault that the two of you together created some freaky teeth situations.

I insist I'm blameless.


It's still no fun to be That Mom at the orthodontist.  The one they call back for a hushed conference.

I was sitting in the waiting room, reading my book and feeling smug that I wasn't the wreck of a mom who was complaining loudly to the receptionist that she didn't want to wait around (even though she'd been there about 5 minutes) for her appointment because it was summer.  She said that her son's appointment "would take 5 seconds" so he should go ahead of everyone else. (So don't make an appointment if your summers are so sacred.)

So there I was, feeling smug.  A nice lady emerged who looked way too young to be gainfully employed (I'm old).  "Mrs. Davis?"


I followed her back and was treated to a lecture on mid-line alignment (or misalignment as the case may be).  I was shown x-rays of my abnormal beloved daughter's jaw.  "There's only so much we can do, " her orthodontist said.  "We can fix her teeth and her jaw to a certain extent but this is deeper than that.  This is skeletal."  The only answer he had was surgery.

"But why?  Why are her jaws like that?"


It's always genetics when it has to do with our children and their cockeyed teeth.

I took a deep breath and took infinitesimal comfort in the fact that he said we need do nothing now because she was young enough to still be growing.

I guess he just wanted me to be prepared for joy on the horizon.  

Usually I stay in the waiting room with my book during my children's appointments and usually I'm never lucky enough to get appointments for both of them on the same day.  Yesterday, Braeden was a few chairs down though so I slid down to the bench next to him.

The good doctor looked in his mouth.  He kept telling him to bite.  Now bite again.  Again.  He poked and prodded and pushed his little mirror around for different views from different angles.

"His teeth are completely straight."

Braeden's eyes reflected glee.

"But come and look at his jaw."  I reluctantly got out of my chair and approached Braeden's jaw.  It didn't sound like look-how-fabulous-this-jaw-is sort of news.  It turns out that Braeden's lower jaw is waaaaay bigger than his top.  It has to do with the way he breathes and with his tongue which is apparently huge.  (I also had to be shown The Enormous Tongue so I could understand the bad raw materials I had brought to the let's-fix-the-teeth table.)  The solution for Braeden's problem?  Surgery.  "But with that tongue, that may not even help."  (His big tongue must be linked to his big feet.  Curse that family tree.)

As soon as there weren't instruments and fingers in Braeden's mouth, he sat up in the chair and looked from person to person.  "It sounds to me," he said in a tone I recognize very well, (It's two parts charming and one part iron willed persistence.) "That there's nothing more you can do for my teeth.  It sounds to me like your work here is done and you'd better just take these braces off."

Then he lay back down and opened his mouth helpfully.

The doctor looked at me. "It's up to you," he said, "There's really not much more we can do."

So an impression was taken for a retainer and in two weeks, the braces come off.

On the way home from the orthodontist, Braeden told me he would never have surgery on his jaw.  Never!  Then he began a tirade about how weakened we've become as a society because we all correct our crooked teeth.  We should just let them be.  I let him rant. 

Such is the life when you have played the genetic lottery.  And lost.

addendum:  I looked at Adam's teeth.  His top middle teeth are not in line with his bottom middle teeth.  He seems to be functioning in the world.  I don't think I'm going to let them break my girl's jaw.


mike said...

I say they only notice these things when they have all these instruments in their mouth or with an X-ray. How many people are they going to meet and have them say just let me check your teeth. I think they are great just the way they are!

Enoch said...

I say let it be.... I have a crooked grill.... my teeth don't line up top and bottom....I still eat and seem to be putting on some lbs here of late...Braeden could always grow facial hair. That covers it up nicely... I wouldn't recommend that for Emma though.

Jill said...

First of all, the phrase "cockeyed teeth" made me laugh.

Second, have you ever noticed that Tom Cruise's teeth are off (his teeth aren't centered under his nose. Go look.) and no one says he's a freak.
Okay maybe they do, but not because of his teeth.

Teeth can be the source of a multitude of woes. I say as long as your mouth is healthy, all is well.

P.S. Good luck with the genetics. We are all fighting battles on that front to one extent or another. :)

lifeatthewhitehouse said...

That's the funny thing about orthodontists! They don't want to just make it as good as they can, they want to make everything perfect. Are they functioning? Yes. Are they straight enough that he has a fabulous smile? Yes. Job accomplished.

Olivia Cobian said...

This was so fun to read.


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