As well as our limited diet to aid Ruby’s skin, we have been undertaking another project. It all started when we were referred to a ENT specialist because Ruby keeps getting tonsillitis. While we were there he expressed concerns about Ruby’s teeny weeny mouth and the resulting iddy biddy airway that she has. Removing her tonsils and adenoids will help with this a little (and will stop her getting the recurring infections) but the fact is that her jaw is dinky so he suggested that we take her along to a chap who does interceptive orthodontics. I said that Alexander is even smaller of face and he told us to get him there ASAP!
I didn’t really know what interceptive orthodontics were but I thought it was worth a look so I booked appointments for both kids. We went along and received a full consultation on both children. Without knowing ANYTHING about their history the orthodontist told me how they sleep (that Alexander finds it difficult to fall asleep but once he does he is very still and that Ruby moves around a lot and snores). He told me that A gets migraines but Ruby doesn’t (true). He knew that Ruby suffers a lot with tonsillitis. They both had full cranial scans which showed the massive overcrowding of teeth due to their lack of room for eruption. Alexander already has teeth in three rows like a shark! The scans also showed the extent of the restriction in Ruby’s airway – it is only a few millimetres wide for over three centimetres. This is ok while she’s awake and healthy, but when she’s asleep then her tongue falls backwards as her mouth is too small to accommodate it (she has a nine year old sized teeth and tongue in a six year old sized mouth) and blocks her airway and if she’s in the middle of a bout of tonsillitis then she has no chance!!
The program of interceptive orthodontics takes around 18 months and is done with removable plates which fit inside the mouth and gently, over time stretch the jaw creating space for the teeth to align and allowing the airways in the nose and throat to open when more space is created.
This is quite different from the orthodontic treatment I received (for which I am still incredibly grateful!). I had baby teeth removed when they refused to give way to the adult teeth and then when there wasn’t enough space for all my adult teeth, some of them were removed too! After that there were fixed braces to pull all those naughty teeth into line. My teeth are indeed straight and I’m really grateful that my parents made the commitment to getting me sorted. It was a pretty invasive process though and has left me with less teeth than I am designed for which means that I have a recessive jaw, partially erupted wisdom teeth with nowhere to go and a smaller than optimal airway. Somehow I have struggled through to the grand old age of 35 and I’m just as gorgeous as I need to be 😉
As part of their treatment, Alexander and Ruby took part in a sleep study. Having watched them sleep since day one, there weren’t many many surprises. I know that Ruby wriggles about like an octopus in bed and that Alexander never sleeps on his left hand side – the study agreed! What I wasn’t expecting was the fact that Ruby wakes 90 times per night – not just slips into light sleep but wakes up, gets her breath back and then goes back to sleep. We all do it a bit apparently but at her age, this level of disturbance is classed as moderate obstructive sleep apnoea. The reason that she has always been my ‘good sleeper’ is that her wee brain is so used to having to go STRAIGHT to sleep in order to get enough in!! Apparently a snoring baby is not normal and should always be investigated. This was news to me and I felt terribly guilty that I had left it until she is nine years old to do anything about it!
So they were fitted for their braces. Another change from the days I had mine, the kids could choose any colour, have pictures or their name on their plates. Ruby chose a rainbow brace with her name AND a giraffe on it!!!
Alexander, on the other hand, just asked for a plain white one!! He was never one for gimmicks!
Ruby’s bottom jaw is fairly small but her top jaw is tiny which gives her face a bottom-heavy appearance, means there is not much space in her nasal cavity for breathing and leaves her tongue with nowhere to go and so she breathes through her mouth which in turn slows down the natural expansion of the top jaw (the repeated pressure of the tongue against the hard palate is one factor of helping the top jaw expand).
Alexander’s teeth (check out that overbite!!! He does have lower teeth in there somewhere!!)
Closed mouth smile
As usual, my kids are chalk and cheese!! In Alexander’s case, it’s the bottom jaw which is tiny giving him a recessive, pointy chin (like mine :)) and leaving him no space for six teeth jostling for position! This results in a sore and clicky and restricted movement of the jaw (see how few teeth you can see when he smiles?)
Smile with teeth showing
At the end of all this, they may or may not need fixed braces for cosmetic reasons but I am fully confident that their long term health will be improved. These pictures were taken six weeks ago and in that time their teeth have already moved dramatically. I find the process rather fascinating (as you may be able to tell!) and think that the whole idea of treating the whole body rather than just the cosmetic appearance of the mouth makes total sense.