Reflections on My Orthodontic Care in the 1950s
As a periodontist seeing many orthodontic shortcomings since the 1970s, I am excited for the growing awareness of orthodontic work in our Facebook group.
My story starts with sucking my thumb until I was five. I had a narrow palate with a high vault. After my four first premolars were extracted, I wore a head gear at night to bring back my maxillary teeth and jaws.
I wore painful braces for six years and then a tight maxillary retainer. I was trapped in the scientific thinking of the 1950s.
I am sure I had a zero-second (or close to it) brain cycle that almost certainly contributed to my cognitive difficulties. My lack of reading comprehension and composition skills limited my career choices.
I wonder what my facial structures were like in 1947. Did I have a narrow palate and high vault at birth or just from sucking my thumb? Could my potential dental problem along with other heath issues have been prevented or at least lessened with therapy at my birth?
When we worked with 500 to 600 newborns in our Lancaster research, from 2006–12, I had an aha moment that repeated many times. When I was checking the palate of a new baby, I noticed a narrow inverted V-shaped space where I could not fully seat my index finger. I wondered whether orthodontic problems could start at birth.
After a few minutes of treatment, I could seat that finger and even wiggle it laterally. Wow—the head and facial structures had completely changed. I was blown away for days thinking about the ramifications of the work at birth.
In my perfect world, your strain-free child with a great brain cycle has orthodontic care that maintains that great brain cycle without adding more fascial strain. I completely understand that may not be possible now.
My advice is to do the best that you can for your child with health-care professionals of a similar mindset. You are helping to move the orthodontic profession forward.
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