Our road to braces has been a long one. We’ve known for years Tess would need braces, the problem was when and how. It is one of the problems many military families face. Our frequent moves, often while the kids are in their formative years, have effects in ways that surprising, mostly happily… until you confront a problem suddenly and frustratingly.

Tess was slow to lose her baby teeth. The dentist recommended waiting with braces. We waited, and as the years went by it became clear that her lateral incisors had no inclination to loosen and fall out. Finally, at age 12, our German dentist put together a thorough orthodontic plan to not only loosen & remove her baby teeth, make room for the adult lateral incisors, but also to straighten her bite. I was relieved Tess was finally getting help. Insurance agreed to pay their part.  The dentist agreed to accept monthly payments during her treatment. We were ready.

And then the dental office looked at our orders. Our orders ending 18 months before her orthodontic treatment could be completed.  Instead of being cooperative, they demanded the full $7,000 before beginning her treatment. Understandable from their end, but with insurance only covering $1,200 one time and now knowing we would need to pay full price to this dentist, and then again to the next dentist at our next duty station to complete her treatment, we were left with an impossible choice. An unaffordable choice.

Then we were lucky, space opened in the dental clinic on base. It is primarily for soldiers, of course, but dependents can be seen as space is available. In we went. Same opinion. Same need. Same refusal to treat. Our orders were too short.  They wouldn’t start braces knowing we were scheduled to leave in less than a year. By then we knew we would be here an additional year, for Cole to finish his Senior Year, but we didn’t have the paperwork. No paperwork. No braces.

We waited another six months. Again had Tess evaluated. Same diagnosis. Same need. Same no go. Our extended orders, along with the months left on the old orders, only gave Tess 15 months. They wouldn’t put on the braces.  I desperately searched for affordable alternatives, we tried getting them put on in the states, out of pocket, on a payment plan, but the dentist refused knowing we lived in Germany. I considered tourist dentistry, Hungary especially was recommended and not that far. Except, this came right as the refugee crisis reached an apex, with Hungary firmly in the center and Dave worried about his wife & daughter traveling back & forth amidst so many unknowns.

This Spring we waited for a new assignment and orders that never came.  Weeks after our assignment ended, days before our pay and permission to be in-country expired, we received new orders. New orders that placed us in Germany till the end of Dave’s career. New orders that were long enough to finally receive the dental care Tess needed. I made an appointment immediately. She was approved immediately and we started getting her mouth ready for braces.

Now, finally, 3 years after her initial diagnosis Tess has braces! She couldn’t be happier. Or in more discomfort.  In the week since her last braces were placed, I’ve become the Queen of Soup. Recipes welcome.


One week before braces in Myrtle Beach, NC


Last week. The very day she got her braces ❤