~ B r a c e s ~

Making the Big Decision
+ Month #1

My lower teeth have always been too crowded for my mouth, and I needed to do something before gum disease took over and my teeth fell out!  Also, my upper teeth, once nice and straight, slowly moved into weird positions.  It was time to do something! 

Considering my options.  I was initially interested in Invisalign because of one main reason: I get canker sores. Invisalign appealed to me because there wouldn't be a lot of pointy things in my mouth to cause irritation and canker sores like there would be with traditional braces. I found an orthodontist in town who was trained in the Invisalign system, and I scheduled my first visit  He told me that I would not be a candidate because my crowding was too severe.  Since I would need extractions, he didn't think Invisalign would be my best choice.  We talked about traditional braces, and I explained my concern about canker sores.  I was given information and an initial quote for braces, and I went home to think about it.

Taking action.  I thought about the pros and cons of traditional braces for less than a week.  The ortho had said that I would most likely require the extraction of four teeth and that my treatment time would be two years or more.  It was a daunting thought - who wants to have four teeth pulled?!  Then there was the issue of canker sores.  Just thinking about canker sores with braces made me want to cry.  However, my desire to have straight teeth won out, and I made the call for my records appointment.

Going to the first appointments.  It seemed to take forever (one week) to go in for impressions, X-rays and photos.  Then it seemed to take another eternity to go in for my full consultation (another week). The ortho had a plan of action, and it didn't include extracting four teeth.  It was a slightly different approach - he suggested extracting the lower left central incisor instead to make room for the crowded lowers.  Now THAT was a positive thought to have only one extraction instead of four!  He then went on to say that because of the one extraction, my treatment time would probably be reduced to eighteen months.  Even better!  AND the price was much lower than my initial quote!  HOORAY! 

Above: The day before braces went on.  Below: A close-up of my teeth.

Getting braces on.  I wanted to get started as soon as possible, so less than two weeks later I went in for full braces.  I got by without having spacers and bands, so in a way I felt like I was cheating!  I heard so many people say that spacers were the worst part about getting braces, and I was lucky enough to avoid it.  On July 18, 2003, two hours after I went into my ortho's office, I walked out with a nice, shiny set of metal lowers and ceramic uppers.  I chose light blue bands for the lower brackets.

Living with braces.  The first few days of braces were very difficult.   All of the sudden I couldn't bite down - my molars would not touch!   And I was very afraid that my overbite would snap off my lower brackets.   Added to that was the constant pressure on my teeth.   They weren't sore at first, but after a few days, I could definitely tell that the braces were working - my teeth hurt!   My first week of braces consisted of eating really soft foods: cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and tons of yogurt.   After a few days I became more adventurous, and by week two, I was eating pretty much anything I wanted!

The most shocking thing for me during my first few days of braces was BRUSHING and FLOSSING. I spent 30 minutes the first night cleaning my braces, and most of that time was spent flossing! No one had told me how time-consuming it would be. Of course, with practice, flossing is a breeze now.

Below:  One of the first days with braces. The bottom tooth without the bracket is the one to be extracted.  


Extracting a tooth. On July 31, I went to my dentist to have my lower left central incisor extracted. That's tooth 24 for those of you who "know" teeth. I was very nervous about the whole situation. I mean, who really wants to have a healthy tooth removed?! To top it off, my dentist said that my archwire didn't need to come off. But as you can see in the picture above, the tooth is right up against the archwire. I was very nervous, so I called my ortho's office. They assured me that my dentist would take it off before the whole process.

Well, the dentist didn't take off my archwire, and I thought for sure my right central incisor and right lateral were going to pop out with the tooth being extracted. It didn't help matters that the dentist said that one tooth kept wanting to come out with tooth 24. Yikes! After a few minutes of pushing and pulling, he tried unsuccessfully to extract the tooth. The pliers (or whatever they're called) kept slipping because he couldn't get a grip. I silently willed the tooth to let loose. And finally! it popped out . Unfortunately, I felt instant pain - not in the place where the tooth had been, but the two teeth to the right.  I drove home as quickly as possible and took lots of pain killers.  I took a two hour nap, and when I woke up, everything was fine.

Below:  Three weeks into my treatment.  The lower left central incisor was extracted on July 31.  Ouch!

Forward to Month #2