Confession: The first few installments were not written in realtime, because I started this process last year and I’ve only just decided to document it on the blog. So. Bear with me and the potentially awkward changing of verb tenses throughout this series of posts.
2015 – 2017
During this time, I had constant background stress about my teeth. That sounds so dumb, I know. Of all things to be chronically stressed about! But I had just gotten my second round of braces off, and already it was clear that the results weren’t going to last.
I was beginning to wise up to the real problem, and the real solution: expanding my palate. But at the time, that seemed like an impossible task. Almost everyone, online and in person, said it was impossible. My Googling didn’t turn up any dentists or orthodontists doing this kind of work. The only decent online resource I found was mostly hidden behind a paywall*, and everything else was just incomplete anecdotal evidence scattered across various online forums.
Even my awesome holistic dentist, who I LOVE, didn’t have much to offer in the way of advice or support. (I legit cried after that appointment. No joke.) I felt like I had absolutely no recourse, except perhaps jaw surgery, which I wanted to avoid for obvious reasons.
So, the stress remained. It didn’t help that my dad, who I take after in most respects, had begun having some serious TMJ issues. It seemed likely that those same issues were in my future if I didn’t do something to fix my bite.
I knew by this point that palate expansion was the answer, but was still 100% uncertain about how to go about attempting it. And having already sunk so much money and time into trying to fix my mouth, the thought of entering yet again into the world of orthodontia was not appealing.
So, I began my journey by visiting my dad’s dentist, who specializes in TMJ issues. I suppose I was hoping he would magically come up with a solution that didn’t involve getting braces again, but regardless, it seemed like a decent place to start.
He did a full TMJ workup on me, which included hooking me up to a bunch of wires in a very Frankenstein-esque manner to relax my jaw muscles and determine my jaw’s natural resting place. Lo and behold, said resting place was NOT where my previous orthodontist had kept putting it all those years during treatment – it was significantly more forward, which was exactly 0% surprising to me.
He basically confirmed everything I already knew, which was:
1) I don’t have significant TMJ issues yet, but
2) I likely will in the future if I don’t fix my bite, and
3) My bite is bad because of my small upper arch and missing bicuspids.
Unfortunately, he did not have a magic solution for me, and he echoed the other dentists/orthos I had talked to – that traditionally, true adult palate expansion is not thought possible without jaw surgery.
But it helped to have my thoughts validated by a professional, and it was definitely good to know what the natural alignment of my jaw should be! That right there showed me that I could easily expand the upper arch enough to accommodate two implants, without making it too large for my lower jaw.
*I’m referring to ClaimingPower.com, which documents one guy’s experience re-opening extraction spaces from four bicuspids. It looks like maybe the paywall is gone now…? I can’t tell with the new site layout. Regardless, I got most of my initial information on this topic from his free posts and the comments below them, so thanks to the creator of that website for sharing your experience!