Our Child's Addiction - a $7000 habit part 3

We have a treatment plan

Last week we shared the results of our son’s dental x-rays and orthodontic report which revealed the damage long-term thumb sucking has done to both his teeth and jaw. Although the habit has led to several dental issues, the great news is that a plan of action is now in place, meaning treatment can finally begin.

Before commencing any orthodontic treatment, however, it has been recommended that we book another check-up with our regular dentist to ensure no fillings are required. If he does need fillings, these will need to be completed before putting any braces on. It may also be necessary to remove the baby tooth that has been retained.

 Orthodontic treatment step 1

Having completed this check and any treatment, the orthodontist will fit our son with a removable twin block appliance in the colour of our son’s choice. (There is quite a good colour selection too). A Twin Block appliance is an orthodontic appliance used to straighten the jawbones and the teeth.  It is called a twin block because it is made of two appliances, one on the upper jaw and one on the lower jaw. These acrylic blocks are recommended for encouraging the jaw’s bones into their proper shape and position. This in turn helps with straightening the teeth.

By using this appliance the orthodontist aims to reduce our son’s overjet and overbite. The efficacy of the appliance is dependent on full-time wear, although he can remove the appliance to eat, clean his teeth and play sports. The results are also dependent on favorable growth.

As such he will be expected to wear the appliance for approximately 20-24 hours per day for up to one year. For those interested in the financial costs of treatment, we are required to pay an initial deposit of $2000.00 on the day the twin blocks are placed. This will be followed by 22 monthly payments of $250 to cover the rest of the planned treatment. Any extra treatment above any that is planned now will incur further costs.

Orthodontic treatment step 2

The second phase of treatment for our son will involve the use of upper and lower fixed braces for approximately 12-18 months. Depending on the outcome of the twinblock, the need for tooth extractions or jaw surgery will be considered at this time.

The aim of using braces would be to fully align the teeth, reduce the overjet and overbite (if still required), correct the scissor bites, close any residual spaces and improve the overall bite.

Treatment would involve the use of elastics or rubber bands to move our son’s teeth. The success of this treatment is dependent upon excellent compliance with elastic wear and favorable jaw growth. Certain tooth or bite corrections can only be achieved by elastic wear. These are small removable elastic bands that are worn between the upper and lower braces. If elastics are not worn as instructed, however, then an extended treatment time or compromised treatment outcome may result.

After braces are fitted, the orthodontist will need to see our son for adjustments every 4-6 weeks during the period of active treatment.

Orthodontic treatment step 3

Once active treatment is complete the braces will be removed, and a removable retainer will need to be worn in addition to wire retainers fixed to the back of our son’s front teeth. The reason for the use of retainers is to prevent unwanted movement of the teeth after completion of active orthodontic treatment.

The wires fixed to the back of his teeth will remain in place indefinitely to minimise tooth movement long-term. Even so, the completion of orthodontic treatment does not guarantee a lifetime of perfectly straight teeth. This is because there is always a natural shifting of the teeth even in people who have not had orthodontic treatment. Therefore, slight irregularity of the teeth, particularly of the lower front teeth, may sometimes have to be accepted.

Treatment summary

In total the active treatment as described in this plan is expected to last from 24 -30 months. This will involve the use of twin blocks, followed by any surgery, braces and plates and finally the indefinite use of retainers. The cost of this treatment (not including unforeseen extras) will be $7500!!!


In our next post we will discuss the factors that influence treatment time.

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