Welcome to having a palate expander, a torture device undoubtedly invented by the Scots. I’m sure this was used in Scottish prisons in the middle ages and I swear saw it in a museum in Edinburgh.
The purpose of this device is to expand your upper jaw, thereby avoiding jaw surgery. When combined with braces, this is supposed to produce a fabulous smile, correct bite, and fix a multitude of problems … that is IF you can stand having it in your mouth!
The palate expander looks like a metal spider but far more Machiavellian in scope. It has two little keyholes in the middle and every week you turn the screws to make it wider, supposedly widening your upper jaw. Orthodontists call it an “appliance,” I call it sheer torture. The only upside is my inability to eat and the resultant weight loss.
The first thing that happens is the orthodontist fits the palate expander in your mouth and makes sure the little wire arms on the sides firmly grip the molars. Um, ouch. It doesn’t fit flush to the roof of your mouth so now you have this “thing” in your mouth making it virtually impossible to speak. The doctor says in the beginning your mouth thinks it’s food so to expect more saliva. Now I am drooling, talking like I have a severe speech impediment or am mentally challenged. This does not bode well for speaking to clients or anyone else at work who keep looking at me very strangely.
The slit, which gets wider as you turn the screws shreds the crap out of your tongue. The remedy for this is strips of orthodontic wax. The theory is you press the wax over the gaps and screws and it makes it more comfortable … not. Also, as the day goes on the wax mysteriously disappears which leads me to believe I have ingested enough wax to have formed a candle in my stomach. I went through half a box of wax in one day and called for more. I now have a box of wax in all locations: desk, purse, glove compartment, nightstand, bathroom sink, and live in fear that I might be caught somewhere without it. You thought Linus was attached to his blanket? I clutch my wax like it’s the Holy Grail.
Eating with a palate expander is darn near impossible because honestly it’s just not worth it. It hurts to eat a potato chip. Pudding is good but since it doesn’t sit flush to the roof of your mouth EVERYTHING goes up underneath it and I have a nasty burn mark the entire outline of it from trying to eat a cheesesteak with a fork. Also what doesn’t get stuck inside it gets stuck on the metal hooks. After eating you’re supposed to brush it; but seriously, who runs around with a toothbrush? So I rinse it off then try to rinse my teeth which are caked with food.
The first day it took me an hour to eat 1/2 a slice of pizza when I decided it just couldn’t be done. I’d rather be hungry. That’s my new philosophy. Hunger = less pain.
Today I forgot to bring food to work and someone gifted me a burger and fries. I nibbled on the fries – not too terrible. Then I took a bite of the burger. The bread squished up and through the “thing” and my molars screamed with pain when I tried to chew. I never knew teeth could throb.
The happiest part of my day is the 15 minutes I get to soak it in denture cleaner, and yes, buying denture cleaner was a little embarrassing.
I get to turn the screws two more times before lower braces go on. I don’t know how I’m going to tolerate this for a year because the discomfort is getting worse, not better. “You’ll get used to it,” they keep saying. I think they are lying. No, I KNOW they are lying. The best part is I’m paying $7800 to be tortured. Couldn’t I just take dance lessons with Abby Lee Miller instead?