Well, not actually my first braces or retainer (that was 44 years ago, after all). I mean the first one that I’ve applied to a patient. In a previous post we talked about how retained baby teeth can lead to malocclusion: teeth that grow in where they don’t belong. On little Cocoa here, I failed to get a good "before" picture of that (before I did anything, that is).
This is a "before picture" as far as the teeth are concerned. The white blob is the acrylic appliance I built up in the roof of Cocoa’s mouth. You can’t see the grooves that are cut in the wedge sticking down, but they are there. What you can see are that the lower canine teeth (bottom fangs) are coming straight up so that they were hitting the roof of the mouth. See how straight up and down they are? They should have been angled out to wind up between the upper teeth. As Cocoa closes her mouth, those teeth encounter the wedge now, and the grooves direct her teeth outward.
Here’s a side view, showing the acrylic blob that covers part of the roof of her mouth, anchored to her upper teeth. It’s pretty thick in this picture. After two weeks, the teeth had moved enough that the wedge wasn’t hitting her teeth anymore, but was hitting the bottom jaw. We shaved the blob down and cut new grooves to direct her teeth. I was in a hurry that day, and didn’t make time to get pictures of stage two, unfortunately.
Here she is at four weeks, minus her appliance (i.e. blob of acrylic plastic). You can see that the lower fang is now directed outside her upper teeth and into the groove where it belongs. This is pretty cool, and much less uncomfortable than having her bottom fangs poking her in the palate. I’m glad I got the chance to do it, but if I’d gotten the chance to extract those funky baby teeth back in March, Cocoa wouldn’t have needed this repair.
Watch out for those baby teeth when the permanent teeth come in. If they aren’t getting loose by the time the permanent tooth is halfway in, it’s time for a visit to your veterinarian.