I somewhat took it for granted that the one incisor may very well be the only front tooth we were blessed with on top… because of the missing bone areas on either side of the premaxilla in bi-lateral clefts, front teeth, like the lateral insisors, cuspids, and canines, are hit-or-miss. I decided not too worry too much over it, since Maverick’s teeth would all have to be overhauled in the future anyways.
Then, my mother-in-law, who was caring for Maverick one week before Thanksgiving, mentioned that she saw something strange in his mouth and wasn’t sure what it was. I looked and saw something, too – a tiny white speck. But I thought it might have been a piece of chicken or food of some sort that had gotten lodged into his new palate. Perhaps it was even a little sore spot from having chewed on every toy in the house, as he was prone to do (now that the no-no arm bands have disappeared for good!). It was too hard to get a good look withMaverick being so wormy. So, after washing my hands, I stuck my finger into his mouth to see if I could get whatever it was. The realization hit me as soon as I felt it-- bony, hard, and very much attached. Teeth. Two of them, side by side, slightly overlapping and growing backwards – right in the middle of the roof of his mouth, just behind his premaxilla.
At first, I was concerned – as I am sure any parent would be. But then I realized that Maverick’s “challenging” anatomy was going to come with some odd dentition. Even though we never had ANY expectations of having normal teeth, I was a still a little shocked at the twisted appearance and the placement of these two. We made an appointment with Dell to have our new additions checked out. My biggest concern was whether they needed to be removed.
Dr. Jacobs, our beautiful, young new dentist (not to be confused with Dr. DaSilviera, who is our orthodontist) took a good look at Maverick’s teeth for us. She expressed that the best things to do was let them grow and see what they did. If they started to cause sores on his tongue, then we could discuss removing them – but for now, they’re just teeth. Our biggest concern should be keeping them clean. Due to their odd orientation, foods get easily stuck between them and the palate. She also pointed out the barely-there tips of his first premolars, budding simultaneously on either side of his jaw, somewhat to the inside of where you would expect them to be. This is possibly the effect of a “bunching”of the teeth within the jaw-line – it’s common for cleft kids to have crowding of the back teeth due to a shortened upper jaw line. Dr. Jacobs left us with a few suggestions for toothbrushes and how to get the teeth clean.
Then, Dr. Harshbarger visited us, and confirmed that even though the placement of the teeth seems odd to us, per Maverick’s anatomy, they’re actually in the right spot. Only time and growth would be able to tell us if we’d be able to use them or not. The future plan involves braces: Once the molars are in place (about 7 years old), we’d have a place to anchor the braces, and we could go into the orthodontic reconstruction of Maverick’s journey.
That seems so far away from now…
As our year ends, I can look at Maverick and I can literally see how much we’ve been through. And, though it seems as if it has flown by, I have very clear memories- moments of time standing still. Moments that took my breath away – his birth, his first smile, his first laugh, his first crawl, step, and more…
And moments that I tried so hard to get it back altogether – like the times when I couldn’t get his NAM in, when I had to reapply his tapes 3 or 4 times in a row, when I couldn’t bear to put his no-no’s on, when every meal was coming out of his nose, when his discomfort kept him awake all night...
When I had to let him go for surgery, and the first time I saw him in recovery.
Suddenly, 6 years from now seems like it could be right around the corner.
And it makes me want to scoop him up and love on him even more while I still have the chance.