So, this has been interesting...
My son has enough trouble brushing his teeth on his own and going to the dentist has always been a challenge. The worst part of the dental visits has been when they brush the fluoride paste onto the teeth and then my son has to sit with that awful taste in his mouth. We had to decline the fluoride for at least a year until he was ready for them to finally brush it on.
As my son grows, he fits in the profile of most kids these days, which means he needs orthodontic intervention. We began at one clinic that instructed us to have 4 teeth pulled. I thought my son would never recover from this. These are the situations that I can't even tell him about or we will not be able to get him in the car. So, I say just enough to prepare him and hope that the universe will take care of the rest.
We went to a specialist to extract these teeth (luckily one fell out on its own first, so we only had three to deal with). They began with the novocaine shots and he panicked like nothing I had ever seen. I made the decision to allow them to use the gas to put him under for the extraction. This went very well and he didn't remember a thing. They told me that he could only eat soft, pureed foods for a week or two - which always makes me laugh, because the answer is "no" to this. My son will eat his foods even when he has 3 craters in his mouth, despite the advice of the professionals. It is what it is.
Once we all recovered from this, the orthodontist told me that he will need two more teeth pulled. Needless to say, we switched to a new clinic. The new clinic told us that what we were undergoing at the previous clinic was called "serial extraction" and it was old school. Whew! There was another way! We immediately signed on and began the new leg of the orthodontic journey - a jaw expander.
So, my son's jaw is too narrow and all of his beautiful teeth are crowding one another. Rather than pull them, this orthodontist has a plan to spread his jaw wider so that they can all have room. I completely agree that this is a good approach. But....taking the mold and inserting an expander into the mouth of a 10 year old that won't even put food in there...ugh. But, my son made it through the creating of the mold with the incentive of tokens that can be put towards gift cards :).
He had the expander in for 4 months. He was told to only eat certain foods...yet again, he continued to eat his foods regardless. The first 2.5 months went fine, but he would panic - seriously panic - when he got food caught in it. With only 1.5 months to go, I noticed that he quite eating many of his foods. When I asked him about it, he said that they would get caught in the expander and he just couldn't deal with it, so he stopped eating all of the foods that would get caught.
This was devastating to me. He only eats crackers and chips begin with. Now, he was down to almost nothing. He was starting to get skinny, so I called the clinic to see if it could get removed sooner. The answer was "no". I knew that he would be fine though. This was not a matter of life or death, but I had to ask. He would make it and then he would eat his foods again, but it was rather scary for a few weeks. Some days, all he had was chocolate milk and a handful of chips.
The greatest day was the day the expander was removed! But that was rather traumatic for him - and then came the molding for the retainer - and then came the temporary retainer. It was all so hard. All of this messing in the mouth of an individual that has a HUGE oral aversion to begin with. There is no easy way about this.
Now we are a few weeks into the retainer and he wears it about 50% of the time. We are working on that, because we certainly don't want to go back to the expander. And after that was removed, I sent him to the dentist for a cleaning. But guess what? He has a cavity right where one of the orthodontic wires is. He had plaque build up from the wire and he is so panicked about brushing that. So, now we have our next thing to deal with. Does this never end?
We decided not to allow him to have the gas for this filling procedure. We hear a lot about unnecessary deaths from this gas at dental offices. We are paying to go to a pediatric specialist/dentist for this, in hopes they have a method that will suit him better. So, my son will have to endure his greatest fear yet again. It seems so simple for other kids, but it just is not easy for ARFID kids. It will be very traumatic and may have the potential to set him back in his eating.
I find it so ironic that my son with ARFID has SO MANY mouth issues. It's almost as if he is being tested by the universe, or prepared by the universe. You would think that after all of the hands, needles, and appliances in his mouth, he would be ok with food in there. Sigh.... I know one day this will get better, but this has really been one heck of a year! In the end, he may need braces after all of this.
Just know that if you have ARFID kids that need orthodontics, it can be done. They can get through it :). It will be tough, but it can be done! It has helped me quite a bit to send my husband to these appointments. I can only handle so much and he does better than me when the tough appointments come around. I tell you all one thing though...I will take a tough orthodontic appointment any day over a throat culture for strep throat....
My best to you all!
I am an ARFID Mom. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). I have become the "expert" on my son's feeding issues. I am here to share what I've learned.