For those of you who I just grossed out with these picture, sorry!! Bet you never thought you’d see my teeth so up close huh? Anyway, its been 3 long years and I finally took my braces off last Friday. I don’t know if any of you actually looked at the pictures above, but i notice a big difference in the look of my teeth, especially in the front where they were all crooked. Gonna describe my long journey a little bit, then give my final thoughts.
So, about three years ago, I finally decided to get braces. It was something that I did want to get for a while because my teeth were all crooked. However, my insurance didn’t cover it, and ponying up 4k was kinda hard. After working for a few years, I had enough money and decided to do it. I don’t know how observant any of you are, but if you look at the before and after pictures, you’ll notice that I have 4 more teeth in the before pictures. Yup, I had to extract 4 teeth before starting, and then over the course of 3 years, the resulting gaps were closed. I also had to see a periodontist because my gums are pretty bad, and the ortho wanted to make sure I got the ok from him. The perio gave me the go ahead and actually told me that after extracting the 4 teeth, my gums my actually be better off because part of the reason I was having my gum issues was because of crowding of my teeth.
Anyway, after extracting them, I went back to the orthodontist and he had to cement every single bracket to my tooth. It wasn’t really a long process, but it makes your gums really dry because they leave that saliva sucker in your mouth the whole time. After all the brackets were in, man, it felt weird. I actually had to have this apparatus that goes over the roof of my mouth as well, which made it even weirder. I always got food stuck up there, which sucked.
Now, maintenance, according to my dentist, is the key when you have braces on. The tough part about it is that its so much harder to maintain with braces because everything is harder. Brushing is pretty much the same. However, flossing is a bitch. Well, it was a bitch. I got used to it after a while, but it still takes longer than normal. You have to use a threader and then stick it between each one of your teeth to properly floss. It was such a pain. I can’t believe that I stuck to it every single day. Also, I’m not supposed to drink soda (which isn’t a big deal because even before I put my braces on I’ve probably had 2 sodas in previous 5 years), bite into apples unless their sliced up, not chew gum (which sucks), and not eat popcorn (which I can do without). I’ve been good and followed all of that. At the beginning I used to get cuts on the inside of my lips after waking up, but eventually that went away.
After the initial visit, the rest of the visits were pretty routine. Every month, I’d go back for a re-tie, that is a tightening. If they do not change the wire, then the visit is no big deal. However, if they do change the wire, then the next couple days are a bitch. It just hurts, and hurts even more when you bite down with your teeth. I was pretty much just eating yogurt, soup, porridge, etc. I can tell you that after a year, I was thinking, damn, this is taking forever…I wish these would come off already. Regret is a strong word, but I was not a happy person.
After year 2, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, as the gaps between my teeth had finally closed up and my teeth were definitely straighter. Brushing and flossing just seemed routine now, and I didn’t think anything was a big deal anymore. Most braces are usually on for about 2 years. So, it kind of sucked that I had them for 3. I’ve been told that part of the reason was that my gums were in pretty bad shape and I had bone loss in my teeth, so it was not wise to move my teeth too fast. Hence the 3 years….
And finally last Friday came along. Removing all of the brackets and stuff is not exactly a comfortable process. For the most part, they pretty much just yank them off and then scrape off all of the resulting cement. After everything was off, my teeth felt weird!! I know I should say that they felt normal, but I just got used to having brackets against the backs of my lips for so long.
BUT, its not over exactly yet. I still have to wear a retainer for the next 6 months. The retainer feels kind of funny, but I’m sure I will get used to it too. I’ve been talking with a funny lisp according to all my friends and co-workers. I think having a retainer is almost worse because you have that illusion that your braces are off, but you still have similar restrictions. I can floss a lot easier post braces, but now I have to freaking brush/clean my retainer. Also, I have to carry my stupid retainer case everywhere I go because when I eat I have to take them out and put them in there. That kind of sucks because its not like the container is small, and I have to stick it in my pocket. I can actually see how people do not put their retainers in. Unlike braces, you can take retainers out. Its one of those things where you are thinking, what’s one day going to do, so leave them out. Pretty much those one days add up, and then you just stop wearing them and your teeth become crooked again. Oh well, 6 months of this and then I only have to wear my retainers at night. I think I can stick it out. I just have to keep them clean as I heard that plaque builds up on them and such. I was reading a couple things online and came across SonicBrite which I will give a try. I think that I will use maybe once/week and then on other days use Efferdent or something.
So, what are my overall thoughts? Now that its all over (sort of) I think that overall it wasn’t really all that bad. A few extra minutes flossing every night and a couple days of pain every month. Would I do it again? Well, after I took my braces off I went to my dentist friend for a cleaning. He told me that my orthodontist didn’t do the greatest job in the world. I personally don’t notice any difference, and I wonder if its just something he notices because he is a dentist. My brothers and sister think my teeth look much better as well. But, regardless, because of what he said, I’d do it again, but probably using a different ortho. Again, I’m not unsatisfied with the result and would not complain, but his opinion is the professional one so is probably the more accurate and objective opinion.
Would I recommend it to any of you? I think that you should if your teeth are very crooked and its something that bothers you. I’m happy with how my teeth are, despite what my friend said. It is a lot of work and a long commitment, so it has to be something that you want and are willing to work for.
Let me know if any of you have questions and I’ll be more then happy to answer them!