Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

A Party in his Mouth

About a year ago it became clear that Joaquin would have to endure orthodontics—and not for aesthetics. One of his canine teeth was stuck without any available space to erupt. We had waited for it for years and now there was no way it could come down.

I was so nervous about how this kid would take this process. I dreaded it! The pain, the work in the mouth, keeping him cavity-free with the added challenge of him doing a very good job cleaning around all these appliances… But I had no choice. We consulted doctors, he picked his favorite, I got him an exciting assortment of cleaning tools, and we started the treatment last fall.

I could never have anticipated how much he would love—love! all this stuff going on—a party— in his mouth. He adores the variation and oral input he’s gone through with every new thing they’ve given him, including the latest: the beloved rubber band that connected top and bottom to pull the whole track of top teeth to his midline. He pouted today when Dr. S told us we didn’t need it anymore. He enjoyed its presence so much and had grown so accustomed to playing the harp with it. Ha!

1 handsome boy smiling
2 lounging sideways on his dental chair talking with the very friendly person in charge of today
3 mouth forced wide open with a very uncomfortable plastic brace

1. Oct 1 · I’m a little nervous, Joaquin confesses at the door of his first treatment appointment. And so it begins: Orthodontics at almost 11. I’m a little nervous too; I guess it will be nice to be done by 13.

2. Oct 8 · Mr. Social Butterfly, charmingly asking all his questions about everything he’s about to go through.

3. Bottom braces going in. This was not a sensory-easy experience. Long as hell, and he took it!

brushing teetha smile that shows the rings of the palate expander
Oct 15 · I love this kid!
Got him a waterpik, special little brushes, and a wall mounted mirror he thought looks like from a mansion, and he’s doing such a beautiful job upgrading his teeth cleaning routine. Today he got the palate expander. This patient, cooperative, and joyful little bird deserves the best teeth life has to offer!
1 Kiki showing his palate and his expander log sheet full of stickers
2 Kiki's mouth full of braces

1. Nov 18 · 35 palate expander turns and we’re done!
Joaquin just informed me that he needs the P.E. key; his stuffed polar bear is about to go into the palate expander adventure.

2. Apr 1 · Goodbye Palate Expander! Hello top braces! Missing canine, still waiting for you…(getting there). I’m still in awe of all the sensory discomfort Joaquin can tolerate now.

Recently Kiki and I have been watching with excitement a tiny white dot that has appeared on the now open parking spot belonging to the missing canine. Today’s X-Ray confirmed it: The tooth has come down to the gum line and is about to break through! Woohoo! I think I’ll bake and frost a cake in celebration when we finally see it erupt.

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