A twenty-something's journey with braces

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 3

Yeah, I broke down and put on wax this morning. My cheeks were starting to become more than just slightly irritated. Waxed my upper canines and first bicuspids, and my lower bicuspids (both).

Ahhh, sweet relief.

Other than that, though, I'm starting to not feel the braces anymore. My lips are even used to how far out the archwire holds them. There's just a residual soreness when I bite down (especially on the buildups), and my front lower incisors feel ever-so-slightly loose. Which is good! Things are on the move...

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Day After

I was told that even if I didn't feel pain right off after bonding, it would probably get worse the first night and especially the day after. So I - no pun intended - braced myself for the worst.

Guess what? No worst!

I really have had very little pain. I woke up this morning and couldn't even feel the braces until I thought about it. It got a little worse when I got up, but a couple Tylenol took care of that right away.

We all went to McDonald's for breakfast, and I ate pancakes and scrambled eggs and a hash brown (didn't tackle the sausage biscuit). I'm really losing all hope of losing weight because of these things. *sigh*

Lunch was the last slice of pizza from last night. At that point I could tell I hadn't taken any more painkillers since first thing in the morning, and I remedied that. But no biggie, really.

The worst soreness is at the points (upper and lower) where my molar buildups hit. Which makes sense, like the balls of your feet hurting in high-heeled shoes: all the pressure concentrated in a smaller area.

I'm learning to eat differently; how to chew without my molars meeting and doing a lot of mashing to the roof of my mouth. Also swallowing bigger chunks than usual. I'm slowly remembering to swish often with water - which has become a constant; I have a glass with every meal, no matter what else I'm drinking - to keep the food gomming to a minimum. The whole process takes longer and I get full sooner; if my food choices haven't changed much, at least I'll eat less at each meal.

I'm about to head to bed and still no real pain and no wax. Just the constant, dim ache that says "there's something going on here", especially in my front lowers (which are the most crowded). I seem to have adjusted to these braces very quickly. I'm not sure if it's the Damon brackets or just me...probably a little of both. Whatever reason, I'm glad of it.

The Big Day - January 17th 2008

Well, the date stamp won't show it, but I didn't get the chance to post this on my actual b-day.

Here's how it went down:

I showed up a couple minutes late for my 9 am appointment (oops!) but I'd called ahead so they knew I was coming. When I got there I followed advice and went to the bathroom first and then coated my lips with balm (Chapstick Moisturizing - I'm a fan).

I was tipped waaay back in the chair and she brushed my teeth with the pumice toothpaste and then I was told to go rinse. I was afraid to close my mouth, but it really didn't taste like anything, just gritty. Then it was back in the chair and the dreaded lip spreaders went in.

She dried my teeth with I swear a mini blow dryer, then painted the etchant on my bottom teeth. It didn't taste great, but I didn't get too much so it wasn't bad. Super sour/bitter/astringent, like strong vinegar. Then she put on some kind of "sealant", which smelled like a hair salon, or nail polish.

Then the indirect bonding tray was fitted to my lower arch, and she went over each bracket twice with the little blue light. She left the tray in place and repeated the process for my top arch. The bottom hard tray was peeled off and another round with the blue light, then the same for the top. The majority of the time was spent doing the blue light. At last she peeled the soft inner trays off and I was officially bonded.

At this point I got to get up and go rinse my mouth. I have to say, right off the bat I was impressed with the Damon brackets. I was expecting them to feel HUGE on my teeth, but even with the doors open they didn't. For the record, I got the "social six" (front upper six, or canine to canine) bonded with Damon 3s, the half-clear brackets, and the rest with all-metal Damon 3MXs.

Back in the chair again and the ortho took a look. I had to bite down to show where my top teeth were hitting the lower brackets (we knew that would be a problem). Then he told the tech where to bond some molar build-ups and it was more etchant, sealant, and then two blobs of stuff that she cured with the blue light, one on either

Finally my archwire fitting. I think I heard the ortho say 0.013 for my wire gauge. It is not the heat-activated kind of wire. She had to work a bit to get it engaged with my canines (no surprise) but eventually everything was locked in. A little tightness, but not too bad. What was most striking - even more so than the brackets alone - was how it felt like my top lip was being held so far out.

And that was it! I was given a bag of supplies and told what food not to eat (I've already broken that, but with due caution) and given prescriptions for "Magic Mouthwash" - no lie - and some kind of at-home nightly flouride treatment.

Oh, and my ortho went over my plan with me in more detail. In about 6 months I'll be getting elastics from my upper canines to my lower first molars to bring my lower jaw forward and open up my deep bite. And eventually my back molars will get brackets too (they didn't this time).

My next appointment is March 20th. I may get a new archwire then, if I've made enough progress. I read on the Damon website that 90% of alignment and leveling is done in the first 10 weeks, so here's hoping.

Now here are way more pics than you probably care about, but hey - it's my blog. *g*

My smile before, and now with braces:

A shot that shows more of my teeth/the convoluted archwire, and a shot of my current propped-open bite.

My official b-day records of my arches, upper and lower. Note the blue molar buildups.

I met DH and Little Boy for lunch before heading to my afternoon spa appointment. First meal in braces: cheeseburger and fries, with a chocolate shake. I didn't even have to use a fork and knife! But the going was sloooooow and I got all sorts of stuff gommed up in the braces. Thank goodness for my DentaKit, which I broke in immediately after.

And I have to say, if you're an adult getting braces, following up your morning bonding appointment with an afternoon at the spa for a custom facial and 1-hour relaxation massage is the way to go! I pretty much forgot I had them.

My first day overall was very easy. Little to no pain (I did stay current on OTC painkillers, though, alternating between Advil and Tylenol) and aside from getting used to where the brackets snag my lips when I smile or open wide, I didn't even have to use wax.

Second meal in braces: pizza with mushrooms, and breadsticks. So much for the "braces diet"! Actually, I didn't eat much of the breadstick or any of the crust, and I eat so much slower I end up not eating as much. So there's that.

Before bed I used the WaterPik - a godsend - with the ortho attachment, then brushed my teeth with my trusty Vitality and the ortho heads (officially "Oral-B Braces Care Essentials") I got off eBay. Wonderful! My mouth felt better overall after that. Then I managed to floss, though it took quite a while, and followed all with a warm salt water rinse.

All in all, an easy beginning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The last step (pics!)

Yesterday was the last step in my preparations for Brace Day (tomorrow! yikes!) - I had a dentist appointment for cleaning and a possible filling.

As it turns out, I didn't need any new fillings. *whew!* We discussed replacing my old amalgams with the new white composite, but my dentist said wait until the braces come off and I was okay with that.

I got an "A" for my cleaning; both my dentist and hygenist were impressed with how clean my teeth are and my healthy gums. For that I mainly credit my beloved Oral-B electric toothbrush. Though I did get to say with complete honesty that I'd been flossing every day, too. Guess it showed. *g* She still had to do some scraping, but that's the nature of my crowding (and why I'm getting braces in the first place).

I also asked for and got a pre-emptive flouride treatment. This was a foam the hygenist "brushed on" for one minute, and then suctioned away. It was interesting...not as gag-worthy as the trays, though.

A fun bonus was that I had some downtime in between chair appointments, and I popped down the hall to my orthos office and they let me play with my OrthoCAD plan. Very interesting, and inspiring to see the finished results!

I took pics and video. (With my phone, sorry 'bout the quality.)

ETA: The videos aren't working for some reason. They were hard to see anyway. If I figure them out, I'll put them back up, but for now, here are the pics at least.

Here's the computer model made from my impressions:

I got to see what my teeth will look like with the brackets on (not including turbos):

And specifically the very crowded lower arch from the front:

And top:

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the expected results (left) to my teeth with brackets (right):

And one of just my current teeth (left) to my projected finished results (right):

Last but not least, a close up of the finished results. This is what I have to look forward to!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Off-Topic: I finished my novel!

This has nothing to do with braces, but...this morning at about 7:47 am, I finally finished the SFD (for non-writers, that's the Sh!tty First Draft, hehe) of my first novel, One Highland Night.

I started writing in late July of 2006, chunking with no clear idea of the overall story. Now, almost 18 months later, I have 418 pages (111,587 words give-or-take) in 34 chapters and an epilogue.

Rewrites loom on the horizon. Oh, boy, do they loom.

But hey! I finished the first draft, which I think is (more than) half the battle.

Someone asked me what I plan to do now. I'm going to Disney World! Seriously, though... Short answer: sleep. *g* Long answer: I'm taking Thursday and Friday off for a 4-day weekend, I've got a spa appointment on Thursday afternoon, and I've been saving several big gift cards to treat myself to a shopping spree.

Anyway, just thought I'd share the good news.

(The whole grueling journey is chronicled on my writing blog.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

One week and counting...

Almost exactly one week from now (my appointment's at 9 am, so they might be done by 11) I'll be in braces. This after 14 years of putting them off.


Thank you, that is all.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Making a Good Impression

Just got back to work from my impressions appointment. Now the clock really starts ticking.

They took me right back when I signed in. I tried to get my coordinator to retake my face shots (since I'd bothered with hair and makeup today) but no dice. The x-rays took about a second. Literally. They had a pan and bite wings for me already, so this was just the cephalometric.

From there it was into the "common room" - there are about 5 chairs arranged in a curve, facing outward, with centralized counters and brush/rinse stations. While I was there another woman about my age, maybe a little older, came in and had her braces adjusted. Two teen boys were there and another older teen or maybe early 20's girl.

I was anticipating the nasty alginate trays but good news! that's not what they used. It seriously looked like Play-Doh, blue and white that she squished together (activating it?) and then put in a plastic tray and C-R-A-M-M-E-D it into my mouth. Set for 5 minutes, removed, put some yellow stuff in and put it back in my mouth for another few minutes. Then it came out nice and hard. Rinse, repeat for lower jaw. The impression trays went right into a special box to be shipped off to OrthoCAD posthaste.

While I was there they were supposed to be bonding someone but the indirect bonding trays had not come in from OrthoCAD yet. Oops! I heard one of the orthos comment that they had approved the plan on the 29th, so it was likely due to the holidays.

My ortho came by to chat while I was between impressions. I mentioned I had been researching the Damons and his face lit up and he told me again how impressed he was with the system, that he thought they were absolutely the best bracket on the market, etc. Encouraging. *g* I also mentioned ArchWired and he said he'd heard of it - knew there was a forum - but I was the first patient of theirs who had been active on there. I'll print some info to take in with me at my next appointment.

Last thing, the tech came at me with what looked like a caulk gun and squeezed some blue goop on top of my lower teeth and asked me to bite down so they'd have a record of my bite pattern. Now I officially cannot bite someone while committing a crime - they'll know it's me. *w*

Then one last meeting with my coordinator, payment - gulp! - and I was out of there. Two weeks from today I'll be bonded.

Oh, and I forgot to say that my DentaKit.com order came in late last week and you would have thought it was Christmas all over again! I got the eponymous DentaKit (black, to match my purse), some spare travel and regular ortho toothbrushes, a bunch of OrthoSil, the comfort covers, and a few odds and ends. Add that to the Oral-B ortho brushheads I've been stocking up on, and whatever I get in my goody bag (I saw a closet FULL of stuff, so here's hoping!) I should be set!