Wakefield boy Jackson Shatford-Banks' smile is less remarkable than it has ever been, and that's the way he likes it.
Jackson received braces to correct three major conditions affecting his teeth. Nelson orthodontist Andrew Marriott diagnosed him in August with a severe open bite, which meant his front teeth did not bite over the bottom row.
This made it difficult for him to eat, and also affected his speech. In addition to this, Jackson's teeth were crowded and crooked, and he had an "overjet" where his front teeth protruded.
His conditions have been fixed with financial help from the Wish for a Smile Trust, which is administered by the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists. The trust takes care of young New Zealanders who desperately need orthodontic treatment but cannot afford it.
Jackson needed two rounds of surgery in the months before the braces went on. An old skateboarding injury had killed the nerves in two teeth, meaning they needed ACC-funded root canal treatment.
Following this, Jackson had two teeth removed in a strategic move that would reduce crowding and help realign his jaw. A week after the removal, the long-awaited braces were finally installed.
His mother, Beryl, said the pain of having his teeth pulled in different directions meant Jackson was not his usual happy self after receiving the braces.
"It was like living with a different kid for a couple of days. He was in so much pain, we thought, ‘Where has Jackson gone?"
However, he is no longer suffering, and even after one week with the braces on, he thought he could see an improvement.
A gap between two teeth on the left side of his mouth that used to fit his finger in it had started to close up - he could no longer touch the gum.
Asked how his schoolmates reacted to the sudden change, Jackson said they had been supportive.
"Everyone was like, ‘Whoa, you got braces'."
He has a special mouthguard that will protect his braces from saltwater during the 1 years he will need them on. It also means the mad-keen Wanderers fan can continue to play rugby.
He chose elastics in blue and gold for the braces as these are the Wanderers' team colours. Mr Shatford-Banks said the family had worked out if they paid for Jackson's treatment privately, it would have cost about $35,000. He said they would have had to sell the house to meet this.
Mrs Shatford-Banks said they could not extend enough thanks to the people who had made sure Jackson's teeth were fixed.
"It's like, you have to pinch yourself, because this is just not us," she said.
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