My fifth and final braces consultation was today. It was a doozy. I apologize in advance for the length of this entry. I never promised brevity!
Consultation #5 - Dr. M.
As soon as I walked in their office, I was mesmerized at how nice it is. It's clear Dr. M goes to a lot of work to make the office a comfortable place for patients. The waiting room is huge and there's video games for kids to play while waiting, coffee and TV for parents. They even have a little station set up so you can brush your teeth with disposable toothbrushes before seeing the orthodontist.
There were so many other neat "bells and whistles" about this place, it was impressive. However, I'm wise enough to know bells and whistles = $$$ and I wasn't too far off in that prediction.
This consultation was by far the longest and most detailed. They don't really seem to take the whole "consultation" word too seriously; they treat you like you've already chosen their office for treatment. For example, they take a "before" photo of you for your file, take numerous photos of your mouth, set you up on their rewards card system, show you around the office, etc.
We went over pretty much everything and of course, Dr. M suggested orthognathic surgery for my overjet. To my surprise, he suggested the palatal expansion, but he said I would need surgically-assisted rapid palatal expansion (SARPE) because I'm too old for just the mouth appliance to work; my skull bones are fused together at this point. I thought that was interesting as the ortho in Michigan just suggested the appliance, not surgery. He also said I'm a tongue thruster!
What's funny is that I've admitted to some of the doctors that I sucked my thumb until quite late and surprisingly (and sadly), their response has been, "Don't beat yourself up over it. You have so many other problems, your mouth would be fucked anyway!" I'm paraphrasing, of course.
Later in the day, I came back to the office to get some molds taken to send to the oral surgeon in London. It's looking like I'm going to get a consultation about the SARPE and lower jaw surgery. Unfortunately I couldn't get a hold of the oral surgeon but I found out from their other office that I might be able to get in for January, if not March. That means the actual SARPE surgery wouldn't be until who knows when, and I'd have to wear the RPE appliance for a few months before even getting braces. So basically I'm going to be about 85 years old before I have nice teeth.
I was quoted $6250 for everything, ceramic or metal (yay!). This of course does not include costs related to the oral surgeries.
A New Dilemma
When I came home, I felt really sad and defeated about all of this. 3 of the 5 doctors have recommended jaw surgery, one didn't mention it, and the other said don't bother with it. Initially I wasn't seriously considering it, but after getting my molds taken today at Dr. M's, I had my usual jaw pain because I held my mouth open for maybe 90 seconds. It would be nice not to have pain anymore, since I do contend with jaw pain regularly. Even just singing along to music gives me jaw pain.
I'm considering jaw surgery now for about 2 big reasons:
1. "No more half-measures" (thanks, Mike Ehrmantraut). Should I do the "quick fix" like some of the doctors have recommended? Or do I just suck it up and actually fix my problems? I never expected to have perfect teeth but if I go this way, I'll have a smile I'll be really happy to show off. It'll also impact my appearance slightly, too. My chin will stick out more than it does, and I'm sure even when my mouth is closed I'll look different because my upper jaw will be wider.
2. I think I can manage the time and resources to do this now. I have a generous amount of sick leave at work (thank you, PSAC), so I could take a ton of time off work to heal up. Also, they say part of the cost of oral surgery is covered by provincial health care. I don't know yet what that leaves as far as my own dental insurances. I'm not sure if this oral surgery would end up costing me that much and if it does, is it paid by my insurance separately from the $2500 orthodontist limit?
The big con of course is that it'll be months before I even get braces put on. I had been hoping to move to the next stage of this by December, not sometime in distant 2014. I know right now it seems so far away, but in the future, will I be happy I did the surgeries? I don't know.
It's also added expense, but the braces and everything will be happening at a time when I'm better off financially. My car is done being paid off in the spring, so absorbing added costs from oral surgery won't be so bad.
If this was a few months ago, I would have dealt with my disappointment by going to Arby's and ordering a ton of food (I have been known to eat 2 Arby's combos in a sitting). Instead I took a nap and then bought some sugar free candy, which I only ate a tiny bit of. The times, they are a changin', eh?