(Last August, we shared with you Kannon Koser’s story to get his first upper denture by his fifth birthday. We recently checked in with his parents, Kevin and Rachel, to see how Kannon’s denture adventure is going! Kannon is affected by hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED) and has only developed three teeth. You can read the first part of his story, I Wanna Ask Santa for Teeth.)
By Kevin and Rachel Koser
Kannon was so excited to get his first denture last August! There were several hurdles he faced as he got used to incorporating the denture into his daily life, but overall, his speech, ability to chew, and overall confidence have improved tremendously.
Once we took them home, it took a little while for him to work up to wearing them full time. Even now, we are still working on getting him to eat with them. But Kannon has always been sensitive. He hates tags in clothes, doesn’t like getting his hands dirty, etc. So we thought it would be SUPER challenging to get him used to wearing a prosthetic, especially in his mouth. But, he actually has done amazing with it!
The Adjustment Process
We started out trying to get Kannon to wear his upper denture for just five minutes every two hours. We slowly increased that time to 10, to 15, to 30 minutes every hour, and so on, until he was wearing the denture for one to two hours at a time (which was usually as long as he’d go without taking it out for a snack). We would set a timer and try to distract him with an activity. Many times, we would turn off the timer before the alarm rang, and he would wear them longer and longer before asking to take it out.
Just a few days after getting his denture, he put it in his mouth and went outside to ride his bike with friends. He ended up wearing the denture much longer than expected without any issue. So distractions definitely helped at first! By the end of the first week, he was wearing it for hours at a time. Now, we are at the point where he wears it all the time with the exception of eating some foods or sleeping. But, we are working on the eating part!
Getting the Fit Right
After receiving Kannon’s very first denture, we sent a picture to his prosthodontist, Dr. Karen McAndrew, of him smiling. She liked it but said she wanted to make him another set. She thought the teeth were too long for his face, and she was right. We had never seen Kannon with teeth before so we didn’t know if it was just us getting used to his teeth or if they actually needed some adjustments.
The initial process of getting his denture aligned and looking perfect was difficult because Kannon gagged and asked to take them out before we could get a good look at the denture in his mouth. But within days of him wearing it, we could really see what Dr. McAndrew meant. Now, his teeth look so good and natural!
Another minor issue we had was on Christmas Eve. Kannon told us he could no longer get any suction with his denture. He would try to talk, but his teeth would just fall out. We had not been using any adhesive at that point, and he had done really well getting the denture to suction to the roof of his mouth.
We texted Dr. McAndrew, and she said he may need to have a new lining. We got him in to see her after the holiday, and she was able to re-line them. Now they fit perfectly again!
It has honestly gone much smoother and easier than we expected. Kannon was ready. He wanted teeth, so that helped so much in getting him to actually wear them. We were nervous that we were going to pay all this money for his teeth and then he wouldn’t wear the denture. But he has done amazing adjusting to them.
When he first got them, I felt like my baby was gone. Without any teeth he always had such a baby face and selfishly, I loved it. But when he popped those teeth in his mouth, he grew up in seconds.
He looked older, he sounded older, he had more confidence, he was beaming! I swear the teeth didn’t just change his appearance but his personality, too. He seemed more mature, more like a big kid than my baby boy.
Kannon wears the denture almost all day, every day now. Every night at bedtime, he cleans them while also brushing his two natural teeth on his lower jaw and the rest of his mouth.
Eating With His New Teeth
Kannon really likes wearing his upper denture. He says he loves having teeth. We are beginning to apply powder adhesive and encouraging him to try to eat new foods each day while wearing his denture.
For the first couple of months, we didn’t force him to wear the denture when eating because it was such a new sensation for him. We didn’t want him to get frustrated by the process. So initially, he kept eating the same few foods that he ate previously before he had the denture. Honestly, we’re still dealing with a very picky eater (like his dad!), so the denture might not even be the problem.
But, recently he has agreed to try to eat those same foods with the denture in his mouth, and we’re using Star Wars Lego sets as incentives. Once he gets comfortable eating his favorite foods with the denture in his mouth, we’ll renegotiate with him and try to introduce some brand new foods into his diet.
The other day he was saying how cool it was to “crunch, smash, and chew” while eating chips with his denture.
Speaking With Teeth
This was another fear of ours that has gone way better than expected. We thought we were going to need speech therapy or that he’d have a hard time figuring out how to talk, but he has done great with it. The denture definitely changed his voice but in a wonderful way. His speech and voice just sound more mature with his denture. It sounds natural, and everyone can understand him.
How His Friends Reacted
We have a great circle of family and friends who embraced Kannon’s change and continue to do everything they can to keep him the happy boy he has always been. Kannon’s friends were so excited for him to get his denture. They were all so supportive, which was a real blessing.
His friends probably talked about it with him for the first five minutes after seeing him with his new teeth, telling him how cool he looked and how happy they were for him. After that, it just doesn’t come up in conversations with his friends. They just went back to being crazy, fun-loving little kids who just wanted to play, whether Kannon had his denture or not.
Sometimes, when Kannon gets a snack from a friend’s house, he’ll come home carrying his denture in a cup or bowl that the family loaned him. Everyone knows the routine, and he feels comfortable asking them for help when needed. We’re so fortunate to have this amazing circle of friends around Kannon!
Even younger brother, Kage, has adjusted to Kannon’s new teeth. He’ll often (unsuccessfully, of course) try to take his own permanent teeth out of his mouth so he can be just like Kannon.
Facing the Next Hurdle
In April 2021, Kannon noticed a new tooth—his third total—beginning to erupt in his upper palate. Dr. McAndrew made a slight adjustment to his denture to give a little extra space for that tooth to come in, but it’s just a matter of time before the tooth will interfere too severely with the denture.
When that day comes, Kannon will require a brand new denture to incorporate the new tooth. While that means we’ll need to pay for another denture much earlier than anticipated, we’re so happy for Kannon because his health will likely benefit from the more natural teeth he grows.
Kevin and Rachel Koser are guest bloggers for the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias. They live in Virginia with their sons, Kannon (5) and Kage (2). Kevin is also the co-chair of the NFED’s Family-Driven Advocacy Committee.