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Daughter convinced she "needs" braces we can't afford - help!

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 

So, DD is 13, almost 14, in 8th grade and is self conscious about her teeth. She has one crooked tooth on the bottom that only shows when her mouth is completely open and is not in the front, so really, no one ever sees it unless she points it out. She has another tooth on the top side that isn't exactly crooked, it just grew in maybe 2mm higher than the rest of her teeth but still hasn't grown in completely and might resolve itself, again, not in the front but the one next to her first molar. The dentist didn't recommend braces but said it could be corrected if we wanted to, but we really can't afford it anyway so it's moot for the time being.

 

Issue # 1 is we honestly can't afford it, and no matter how many times I've explained to her the sacrifices our family would have to make, she still keeps talking about it. We are in debt, my partner has over $2k in dental work that needs to be done in the next 6 months before it becomes too severe to treat, and I have sleep apnea that needs to be addressed, so a crooked tooth or two is low on our family's medical needs right now. She enjoys going out to eat and shopping at the mall with her friends, and I told her she would have to kiss that all goodbye along with any vacations we might take in the next 2 years, but she still doesn't get it. She has been getting allowance for 3 years now and is aware of our budget when we take them shopping for things, yet she still thinks money just magically appears in our bank account somehow. My partner and I both work 6 days a week and live month to month.

 

Issue #2 is she takes terrible care of her teeth. We got her sealants on all of her molars last year and somehow she managed to get 2 cavities this year, down from 6 at the beginning of last school year. She also had silver capped baby teeth when she was younger on 4 teeth. I have never had a cavity in my life. It is obvious that she doesn't brush well enough or frequently enough, no matter how much we hound her, and insists that she drinks plenty of water even though I see her drink maybe 1 6 ounce glass a day. She drinks at least 3 glasses of juice a day, even though we've told her it's bad for her teeth, and since the "juice rations" happened she still manages to drink as much as we have when she can (we only buy 2 cartons of juice per week now, to try and limit the amount of sugary drinks she and her sister drink). I have a hard time feeling like we should pay $4 grand we don't have to fix someone's teeth when they won't even do their part to take care of them.

 

And, of course, she's an angsty teenager who thinks she knows everything and her parents are idiots, so she won't listen to us. It's always "well so and so has perfect teeth, everyone I know got braces", even though I try to remind her that their teeth are only perfect because their braces just came off. I try and have her look at people's teeth on TV to see that even these pretty, young actresses don't have perfect teeth most of the time, and that sometimes teeth that are too perfect look fake, but she doesn't hear me.

 

 

post #2 of 56
If you can't afford them, you can't afford them, and there's no point discussing it with her as if it were up to her or due to something she's done. Every time you talk about the sacrifices she'd have to make, or how she doesn't take as good care of her teeth as you'd like, you put the ball back in her court, and I'm not surprised she's interpreting that as if she has some control over it. I'd stop even discussing it, but empathize with her desire for them anyway. "I know you'd like those couple of teeth straightened, and I wish we could afford it, but we just can't."
post #3 of 56

Sounds like there really isn't anything to do but continue to lay out the facts for her and not let her nagging get to you. If it's cosmetic, not financially possible AND she has a history of not caring for her teeth (and you have to be really meticulous with braces) then what else can be done?

 

At 14, she might be able to find some work. My 14-year-old made about 2 grand this summer as a camp aide. Even babysitting might bring in enough to get her started. You might ask if there is anything that can be improved with a retainer. I had a twisted tooth in 3rd grade and it was corrected with a retainer which is much cheaper.

post #4 of 56
Thread Starter 

The dentist said a retainer would definitely help, so maybe that's the way to go. Again, I would like to see her show some responsibility for her teeth first. She acts like we owe it to her to pay for braces, like it's something that's medically necessary and not cosmetic, and she is a very pretty girl regardless of her teeth so it's not like her esteem should be suffering, nor is it apparent that she has low self esteem. She makes excellent grades, is running for student council president, and last year she wanted to invite 30 kids to her birthday party.  I think she's just got it into her head that she needs perfect teeth to be the person she sees in her head, perfect at everything. We are concerned that she is too focused on her appearance (she can't even organize her closet because she has so many clothes, many people in my family are compulsive shoppers and everything good is her size so she has a different outfit for every day of the week), and I think the whole wanting braces thing would just be enabling her. She already had to write a 5-page essay to be able to shave her legs, and we make sure she is educated about the male gaze in advertising and how many, if not all, norms in western beauty are influenced by men, but she still wants to be this perfect cheerleader type for some reason, probably to rebel from our feminist ways. *sigh*

post #5 of 56
Maybe she's just looking for some autonomy. I think it might have been overkill to require a 5-page essay to allow her to shave her legs. I would give my opinion on it, but in the long run, my kids' legs are their legs. One place she could have autonomy is to pay for the retainer herself. Have her call to find out how much it will cost, have her come up with a plan to save up money for it, and allow her to follow through and save the money. Or not, if she decides it isn't that important. But it might be a good opportunity to make it completely up to her.
post #6 of 56
Thread Starter 

I see where people might see we're being a little harsh with the essay, but she is very advanced and a 5 page essay is nothing to her. She was also 11 at the time and her leg hair was blonde peach fuzz, so her desire to shave wasn't to keep kids from teasing her or anything. She gets to make plenty of decisions about things in her life, in fact, we offer her many opportunities to do things that she turns down. We even paid her to go to a summer camp where they wrote autobiographical stories to perform onstage, and she loves writing and theater, so I feel like we coddle her a little much for her age and give her freedoms she's not ready for. Yes, her body is her body, but as her parents, we have the right to tell her when we think she's causing harm or exacerbating existing issues. What else is a parent's job besides protecting their children?

post #7 of 56

Braces aren't a now or never thing, a lot of people get them as adults. If you feel you've explained your position clearly, then it might be time to just tell her it's no longer up for discussion. At some point I'd introduce a consequence for her beating a dead horse.

post #8 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post

Braces aren't a now or never thing, a lot of people get them as adults. If you feel you've explained your position clearly, then it might be time to just tell her it's no longer up for discussion. At some point I'd introduce a consequence for her beating a dead horse.



 

But sometimes they are.  I have a giant gap in my teeth that my parents wouldn't fix.  The only way to fix it now is veneers or something, I can't move those teeth at this point in life.  At 14, if she's serious enough about it, she's old enough to start saving money to do something about it.  Babysitting or part time jobs (well at 15 in most states and even that is usually McDonalds) will go a long way for a kid with no expenses to save money.

 

Also OP, I'm beyond particular about my teeth.  I brush, floss, see my dentist and NOTHING matters.  Even when I was seeing her every 3 months I had cavities often. Some people just have bad luck, no matter how good their parents teeth are.

post #9 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsf View Post

The dentist said a retainer would definitely help, so maybe that's the way to go. Again, I would like to see her show some responsibility for her teeth first. She acts like we owe it to her to pay for braces, like it's something that's medically necessary and not cosmetic, and she is a very pretty girl regardless of her teeth so it's not like her esteem should be suffering, nor is it apparent that she has low self esteem. She makes excellent grades, is running for student council president, and last year she wanted to invite 30 kids to her birthday party.  I think she's just got it into her head that she needs perfect teeth to be the person she sees in her head, perfect at everything. We are concerned that she is too focused on her appearance (she can't even organize her closet because she has so many clothes, many people in my family are compulsive shoppers and everything good is her size so she has a different outfit for every day of the week), and I think the whole wanting braces thing would just be enabling her. She already had to write a 5-page essay to be able to shave her legs, and we make sure she is educated about the male gaze in advertising and how many, if not all, norms in western beauty are influenced by men, but she still wants to be this perfect cheerleader type for some reason, probably to rebel from our feminist ways. *sigh*



Wow. This goes on my list of things I would have thought was a good idea and then I heard someone else say they did it, now I dont think its good idea.
you cant afford it. Its cosmetic. If she wants to have braces, I think she should get a job and pay for them just like she would for makeup.
post #10 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsf View Post

 Again, I would like to see her show some responsibility for her teeth first.

 

One of my kids is currently in braces, the other in invisalign. Because she doesn't take care of her teeth, even if she needed the braces, there wouldn't be any point in getting them. Our orthodontist also says theirs no point in straightening the teeth of kids who drink a lot of soda.

 

Orthodontia makes dental hygene more difficult and raises the stakes -- food particles can get trapped under it.

 

As far as a retainer, how well do you think she'll do holding on to the thing and not losing it?
 

 

post #11 of 56
That's why the two of my kids that could benefit from braces don't have them. My BIL has some horrible looking teeth due to the mess his braces created. I just refuse to trade one problem for another so my two will not get braces until it's important enough to them that they tend to their oral hygeine.
post #12 of 56

Two of my kids have braces because they were badly needed - twisted teeth, out of line and crooked teeth - definitely not cosmetic. They know full well that we will not be taking any vacations and that every other piece of our budget has been slashed until after the braces are off because of the cost. I have no regrets about them getting them because they are truly needed but it is very difficult for us. At one point one dd was resisting taking proper care of her teeth and braces. We discussed it and said if she couldn't do her part then the braces would come off and she could wait until she was an adult and prepared to care for them properly and pay for them herself if she wasn't going to uphold her end of the deal.

 

If you can't afford it, you can't afford it and no amount of whining on her part will change that. There are some dental things that need to be taken care of while the body is still growing but what you have described does not sound like one of them. I can think of a half dozen adults I know who decided to get braces in their 30's. They all had successful orthodontic treatment. It is a fact of life that not every family can afford everything that "everyone else" can. Some 13 year olds test every limit they can and maybe that is part of what she is doing with you. I would be kind but very direct in telling her that while you appreciate how much she wishes you could do this for her that the topic is no longer open for discussion. 

post #13 of 56
Thread Starter 

Good answers, thanks everyone. She has managed to not lose a cell phone or wallet since she's had them for the last few years, so I think she's responsible enough to keep up with a retainer.

 

It has also become apparent to me that she is looking for things about her body to be unhappy with, and says things like "my pinkies are so weird" and stuff that's clearly just her being really self-aware and awkward right now, which I definitely remember being at her age. I was always looking at what was wrong, not what I had going for me, and I think that's the big issue here.

post #14 of 56

Uh... so confused here.  Dental hygiene in kids are the responsibility of their parents.  However, I've had perfect teeth my whole life, DH terrible teeth.  DD2 has so many cavities it's ridiculous, we were starting to wondering if her toothpaste was doing it.  Seriously they don't eat any junk at all.  DD2, Cavity free.  I was too until 18, not sure how I ate so much candy when my mom wasn't looking it was gross.

 

As far as the braces go, my husband got them done for free.  Sometimes, you can get them done for free or low cost.  If the Dentist says retainer I'd try that first.  Another thing you can get done at low cost.  But I don't understand why she's being treated like her wish for nicer teeth is so terrible.  When we were teenagers we all grew up wishing something was different about ourselves, and some of us couldn't even tell our moms about it.  She can tell you about her insecurities.  I know for a fact if I even said one thing about my acne being so terrible my mom would have told me it was because I didn't wash my face enough or didn't drink enough water... it was my fault.  I didn't take care of things I wasn't taught to take care of really.  However as I grew up and found out that I had the most sensitive skin on earth and the fact that I washed my face so many times a day I made it worse makes me pretty upset.  I remember being so mad thinking, I look so ugly and it's my fault.  You don't see it any other way at that age.

 

Also the whole not adhering to your fem lifestyle... yeah my parents were pretty upset that I didn't conform to their Christian lifestyle either.  Guess what, as much as we want to mold them into these great and wonderful beings we hope them to be... they will still choose their own path. 

post #15 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Uh... so confused here.  Dental hygiene in kids are the responsibility of their parents.  However, I've had perfect teeth my whole life, DH terrible teeth.  DD2 has so many cavities it's ridiculous, we were starting to wondering if her toothpaste was doing it.  Seriously they don't eat any junk at all.  DD2, Cavity free.  I was too until 18, not sure how I ate so much candy when my mom wasn't looking it was gross.

 

As far as the braces go, my husband got them done for free.  Sometimes, you can get them done for free or low cost.  If the Dentist says retainer I'd try that first.  Another thing you can get done at low cost.  But I don't understand why she's being treated like her wish for nicer teeth is so terrible.  When we were teenagers we all grew up wishing something was different about ourselves, and some of us couldn't even tell our moms about it.  She can tell you about her insecurities.  I know for a fact if I even said one thing about my acne being so terrible my mom would have told me it was because I didn't wash my face enough or didn't drink enough water... it was my fault.  I didn't take care of things I wasn't taught to take care of really.  However as I grew up and found out that I had the most sensitive skin on earth and the fact that I washed my face so many times a day I made it worse makes me pretty upset.  I remember being so mad thinking, I look so ugly and it's my fault.  You don't see it any other way at that age.

 

Also the whole not adhering to your fem lifestyle... yeah my parents were pretty upset that I didn't conform to their Christian lifestyle either.  Guess what, as much as we want to mold them into these great and wonderful beings we hope them to be... they will still choose their own path. 




We are as responsible as we can be with a teenager's teeth. We remind her to brush and floss at least twice a day, we limit her sugary drinks (again, as much as we can, she's a teenager), and we remind her to the point of nagging that dental hygiene is super important, especially given her track record. Her step sister had braces (which DD's father happily helped pay for, and is now refusing to do for his own biological daughter, but that's a different story) and she knows all the work that goes into taking care of them, the things you can't eat, etc. and I KNOW she isn't ready for that responsibility. She refuses to floss with regular dental floss, she will only use the fancy disposable flossers even though the dentist gave her a reusable flosser. She does not take care of her teeth, period, regardless how many cavities are her "fault" or not. She even admitted to not brushing her teeth at her dad's house for days at a time because he only buys sustainable toothbrushes that she doesn't like. It is clear that she doesn't care.

 

We are not the kind of parents who condone cosmetic procedures to feel better about oneself. You will always find something to hate if you are looking for it. Always. The issue here is her frame of mind, if you actually saw her teeth you wouldn't even think there was anything wrong. She is a gorgeous, self-assured girl who is letting western standards of beauty get the best of her. And as a parent, I would be failing her if I enabled that sort of thinking. Sorry if you don't agree.

post #16 of 56

I know, I rethought my post and I realize that for me it's more of an issue I had with my parents. You're obviously a caring mother, I don't mean to offend.  I'm very sorry. 

 

 

post #17 of 56
Thread Starter 

Nothing a "caring mother" hates more than being told they're doing it wrong ;) Thanks for the reply!

post #18 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

 Dental hygiene in kids are the responsibility of their parents. 

 

for CHILDREN yes, but for TEENS no.

 

Seriously. this is a life skill they need firmly in place and while different humans will reach that milestone at a slightly different age, if both my kids didn't take dental hygiene uber seriously, I simply couldn't make them take the extra step necessary to make their orthodontia work. It's not even that I wouldn't want to, but that they are simple to independent from me for it to work.

 

I cannot go through life with my kids -- follow them around at school, attend every sleep over, etc and make sure they do this right. They gotta be able to do it, or I just wasted thousands and thousands of dollars on something they will have to re-do (and re-pay for) as adults. and that has the potential to cause MORE decay.
 

JDSF, I think you are doing the right thing by not spending thousands of dollars you don't have on a procedure your DD doesn't not need. Besides the money and superficial thing, orthodontia hurts. It's not something to do just to fit in.

 

 

post #19 of 56

DS is 9 and has had braces because there wasn't any room for one of his adult teeth to come up, and it would have become fused to his jaw. I considered the braces a necessity. At his age, he's old enough to get the toothbrush in and around the braces well enough to clean thoroughly... all I did was tell him to brush his teeth and make sure he stayed in the bathroom for more than 30 seconds. The braces are off and there was no decay. A lot of that I think is genetics... I'm 34 and have ONE filling in my life that was so minor I didn't require freezing. The orthodontists office has a contest each month... they can tell if a kid has been brushing their teeth and if they have they get to put their name in for a gift certificate to a toy store or something like that... that went a long way toward motivating him.

post #20 of 56
No problem JDSF, the best part about knowing you were in the wrong is just saying it. I can do that. I still feel pretty bad. I guess I just try to see it as they would but then again their minds are so clouded really.

I'll be the mom who rushes my kid in for something for their skin... I know it. Ugh... I just remember the horrible way I felt!
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