Life has been so busy that I can’t remember if I mentioned that I signed myself up for another little “self improvement” project – I got braces!
All 3 of my kids have pretty messed up teeth so we are at the orthodontist almost every other week with one of them. At my last several visits visits, my regular dentist has been encouraging me to finally follow through with getting my lower teeth to an orthodontist. What was a little bit of crowding was now really starting to effect my bite, upper teeth (which were pretty straight), and now causing some wear on my lowers from hitting incorrectly. When he told me about the wear on my teeth, I knew I really needed to take some action sooner rather than later.
Several months ago at my daughter’s choir concert, they had a huge silent auction. In addition to winning the casino dealer that I used for my son’s birthday party, I also bid on (and “won”) a $750 gift certificate to be used at my kids’ orthodontist on new treatment. I originally bid on it for my youngest daughter’s braces but, after thinking about it, realized she probably wasn’t going to be ready for them by the expiration on the certificate. So, I decided it was the perfect jump start to fund my own orthodontic project. The last time I had a kid at the office I went ahead and scheduled my own consult. About a month ago I went and met with Dr. Goldstein and he told me I was a good candidate for a dual approach using traditional braces on the bottom with a removable clear tray (like Invisalign) on top. I didn’t mind having lower braces since I knew they wouldn’t show very much. He told me he could have more fine control with regular braces on the lowers and it would most likely be finished more quickly too. Sounded like a great plan. They went ahead and did all of the mouth molds, x-rays, etc. One week later I met with him to finalize a treatment plan and get the financial figures (gulp) and then I scheduled my banding appointment for yesterday!
I figure it has been about 30 years since I got my braces off that I had as a teenager. Back then, the process took about 4 long years. My orthodontist did not put in any kind of permanent retainer, like they do now. I had this awful mouthpiece thing with holes drilled in middle that I was supposed to sleep with at night. It apparently made a great chew toy for my dog though because after she got the 2nd one, at a replacement cost of over $300 in 1986, that was the end of my retainer years. I don’t think my teeth really started shifting though until my late 20’s or 30’s. I’ve only noticed it affecting my bite over the course of the last 5 years or so. And now, some photos of me in the 1980’s with my braces…don’t laugh too hard…
The process was pretty painless except that, since the brackets were the glue-on type, they had to prop my mouth open and keep my lips and tongue away from the teeth to get a really dry surface. This took almost 20-30 minutes and was incredibly uncomfortable – and, honestly, a bit scary because I was having trouble breathing. I was really glad when they took the torture device out – and I gained a little sympathy for my kids when they went through that. They never mentioned it though, so it must not have been so traumatic for them! I thought I was going to get clear braces on the bottom but they informed me that my bite was too tight and I would knock the clear braces right off. Um, OK. The orthodontist mounted the metal brackets really low on my teeth so in a normal smile, you can’t even see them.
I go back in 6 weeks and they’ll have the wires ready for my lower teeth (right now only 4 of them have a wire connecting them) and I’ll get my first in a series of the clear plastic trays. The lower wires and upper trays are designed by a computer with a company called SureSmile and they are transitioned in a way to work together to, eventually, arrive at the end result that my orthodontist is looking for. This computerized step by step approach allegedly speeds up the process from the traditional tweaking an orthodontist would plan himself. We shall see if he hits his “less than one year” target. I hope so. When I am finished, I will have an upper and lower retaining wire cemented in behind my teeth to keep them in place for the rest of my life so I don’t have to go through (or pay for!) this again.
So, the good news is that I’m hoping this will help me with any snacking issues that creep up. I’m going to have this clear tray in my teeth and, although removable, it will most likely have me pause for a moment before throwing back a snack on a whim. It will have to be a pretty good treat for me to pop out my retainer and/or find a mirror to clean stuff out of my braces when I’m done. Since I got them in yesterday, I am not finding any food very pleasurable to eat. I can still taste, obviously, but the act of chewing and eating is borderline uncomfortable and just still so awkward, I’d just almost rather not bother. It is a good time to like protein or Optifast shakes!