Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Cautionary Tale About Choosing the Right Orthodontist

Yesterday was traumatic. I won't over-chew the scenery here, but after I got home from taking the kids to their orthodontist appointments, I was ready to sob quietly into my hands for a hour or so. Weston started orthodontic treatment at around age 9 at the recommendation of our family dentist, for a "deep bite". I think this is basically a nice way of saying my handsome young son is a bit week-jawed. Nine is the perfect age to start treatment, because the jaw is still growing and developing, and some relatively minor intervention can save a lot of work down the road. Our dentist had recommended a good, but expensive associate of his, but lacking dental insurance at the time, I decided to go with a cheaper recommendation I got through 1-800-DENTIST. We'll call him Dr. Crackjaw. If this was a novel, this is point in the story at which there would occur some ominous foreshadowing.

Flash forward a couple of years, to my dentist looking sceptically into Weston's mouth and asking, who, in fact, had we chosen for his orthodontist. Unwilling to suspend treatment with Dr. Crackjaw, I soldiered on. Then, at the beginning of this summer, Dr. Crackjaw announced that Weston either needed two more years with his current appliance, or several years of braces. It didn't take an expert to see that Weston still had his deep bite. Time for a second opinion.

Yesterday's appointment was actually a third opinion, since the second orthodontist suggested that Weston needed surgical intervention to correct his problem. So there were were, having gone full circle, finally in the office of the orthodontist that our dentist suggested we see in the first place. And what did he say? Weston needs a surgical procedure to fix his jaw, and if that's not enough, it'll cost us about three times as much as it would have had if we had started him down the correct path three to four years ago. So essentially, I spent a couple thousand dollars to have Weston's teeth completely unimproved, perhaps made worse by the wrong treatment, but also missing the window of opportunity to have the problems easily corrected.

The good news is that Garrett's little jaw is actually in a better position than in older brother's, despite having a very prominent set of bunny seat perched on his lower lip. He is young enough that fixing his teeth will be relatively cheap and straightforward. I am done flagellating myself over this now, but let me just put this out there. When choosing an orthodontist for your child, chose an orthodontist, NOT a dentist who apparently just dabbles in orthodontia. And for those of you that live in the San Jose area, feel free to contact me by email if you want Dr. Crackjaw's real name. The temptation to use my blog to smear this quack is overcome by my fear of his superior financial ability to hire a lawyer. All our spare change is going to go toward fixing his mistakes!

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