Tales of Woe

braces gone bad

The Doc Who Skipped Town
by Shawna, age 29, from Colorado


A friend of mine in Junior High School had braces. I remember her braces specifically because she had bright colored rubber bands and loved to open her mouth wide showing us non-braces kids the reds and blues and greens... (Oh, My!) We grew up less than a block apart. Although we weren't best friends, we really like each other, and I was jealous of anyone with braces. (My family couldn't afford them.) I vaguely remember her getting the braces off, and making a mental note that she must have had them for seven years. (!) Yikes. This was back when four was standard. I had no idea that her agony lasted five more years....

Now, fast forward through the rest of High School and into College. I was home for spring break and I bumped into this friend in the grocery store. We hugged and I asked how long she'd be in Colorado? She told me that she was back in town to undergo three heinous jaw surgeries. Apparently, her orthodontist from Junior High completely screwed up her bite. To show me, she opened her mouth and chomped down...you could hear the back molars touch...but the front teeth were a centimeter apart! Horrified, I asked if they were going to sue? She said she would if anyone could find the guy. When she was 16 they realized something in her treatment had really gone awry. With prompting from their general physician they went to the orthodontist's office to talk to him.

Now comes the really scary part.....

The office was deserted. Apparently, in between that visit and her appointment four weeks earlier, he skipped the country to avoid going to jail for tax evasion.

So she kept the braces on for a year and then had them removed when the oral surgeon told her that surgery was the only alternative, after she had stopped growing.

I am 29 years old now. I have had braces myself for four years and will probably get them off in three months. I always think of this friend and am so grateful for my orthodontist, who has a 20 year history in the area. He talks me through each appointment and I know exactly what every wire and tightening is trying to do. 

The moral of the story is: do your research and choose your orthodontist carefully. It could be the difference between 2 years to success...or my friend's 12 years of agony!

Editor's note: I couldn't agree more! Another suggestion: NEVER pay for the entire treatment up front. Pay a percentage as a deposit and then pay-as-you-go each month! 

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