It's been nearly one year into my orthodontic...
It's been nearly one year into my orthodontic treatment and I have a lot tell, so I will be doing several updates in the next few days rather than telling everything in the same post. But let me begin with telling something about myself and my starting situation.
I had been self-conscious about my teeth since I was a teen. My teeth were quite bad and I was (and still am) the perfect example of what happens, when you skip brushing your teeth and drink a lot of Coke. And eat a truckload of chocolate, every day. For some reason, my parents did not pay much attention to how I was taking care of my teeth when I was about under ten years old. We always had Coke in our fridge and my mother kept buying me candy, because I insisted to. Looking back now, I can't understand why my parents did not stop me from being such an idiot - that should have been their responsibility as parents, I think. A small child can't be assumed to control her own sugar consumption and oral hygiene. As a consequence of this negligence, I had my first cavity at the age of five. More and more followed until I was about 11-12 years old and started to show signs of sensibility. Continuous drinking of Coca-Cola had eroded my teeth, making them annoyingly sensitive and worn-out looking. Luckily, I didn't manage to ruin all my teeth, only the ones that erupted before I came to my senses.
In addition to all the erosion, my teeth also become crowded. I developed a deep bite, maybe partially because the dental erosion ate away the height of my molars. Unfortunately I don't have any real "before" pictures of my teeth, but I do have a set of pictures from the cast that was made from my teeth at the orthondontist before the beginning of the treatment. From the pictures you can see that my front teeth were crooked, my right canine was rotated and erupted too high from the gumline, my molars were undererupted (lower incisors were overerupted but you probably won't be able to see that) and when I bit down, my lower teeth nearly touched my palate. You can also see the ugly shape that my four upper front teeth took because of the erosion. This is especially clearly seen in the lateral incisors.
So I always wanted to fix my teeth. I was so ashamed of them! After seeing in one photo, taken when I was 14, how terrible they looked, I never smiled in photos again. I usually covered my mouth when smiling or tried to smile with my lips closed. When the years passed, my teeth also started to turn yellow from all the tea and coffee I had been drinking - despite the use of whitening toothpastes. My dream was to get my teeth straightened and whitened, and something done to their shape. But unfortunately it wasn't until I was 29 years old that I finally had the money to finance cosmetic treatments fot my teeth.
And so my journey begun. The orthodontics would be my first step. After some consultations I was told that best results for me would be achieved with traditional braces. The treatment time was estimated to be 18-24 months. In August 2013, the treatment started with the placing of four spacers between my upper molars. This was done to create space for the molars bands, to which the archwire would be attached. After two weeks, it was time for the brackets and a soft, thin nickel-titanium archwire to be put on my teeth. Cementing them to my teeth was quite unpleasant but not painful. The shock came afterwards. The ceramic brackets felt big and bulky against my upper lip, and the hooks that were in my molar bands bit into my cheeks every time i moved my mouth. I was wondering, how could I ever live with these things in my mouth! But then I thought that if twelve-year-old children can go through this, so can I. And I did. In a few weeks, I didn't even notice the braces anymore.
Of course, there was pain and discomfort. For a few days my teeth were sore and I would get blisters in my cheeks and lips because the brackets irritated them. But using the wax the orthodontist gave me helped a lot. I was very happy to be on my way to a prettier smile, that I would not have to be ashamed of!
With the pictures of the cast, here are also show some pictures from the first few weeks. Yes, my teeth are yellow, pay no attention to that yet! I will post more later.
After nine weeks
When nine weeks (or about two months) had passed, it was time to place brackets on my lower jaw. The arch on my upper jaw had now expanded some and my lower arch needed to be be widened too. All my teeth were to be tilted a bit outwards, to correct the deep bite and to create room for them to align properly. During this time, I felt really strange when biting my teeth together, since my upper and lower jaw didn't match at all. Sometimes when I ate, my teeth clashed together in a weird angle, making a funny and loud sound. Even my boyfriend noticed it, and made fun of me. :D This lasted for quite a long time - I felt that my teeth started to fit perfectly togerther again as late as five months to the treatment, when I got my first elastics put in. But I'll come back to that later.
As I said earlier, I had had some pain after the initial placing of the wire and brackets (and btw, also the spacers made my teeth sore, but there was a delay of few days before the pain started), but when my ortho put the wire on my lower teeth and, at the same time, replaced my Ni-Ti wire with a thicker steel wire, my teeth were hurting for over a week and quite badly, actually. Eating was an agony for a while, since every one of my teeth now hurt (and inside my gums felt itchy!), not just the upper ones. However, normal over the counter pain killer helped a lot.
Before I had braces on my lower teeth, I hadn't realized how crookes and all ovet the place they had been. :D Somehow, the metal brackets on them really made them look worse. You might notice this on the picture I will attach to this post. At first, my ortho left the most misplaced tooth out of the archwire. On my next visit this tooth too was attached to the wire, and it shifted to its right place in a few hours! I was amazed! This shift is visible in the pictures too. Actually, all the lower teeth aligned beautifully in a matter of few weeks.
After five months, my treatment had progressed ro the point where correction of my bite with elastics could begin. Attached is a picture of my first elastics band, they are called "Rabbits" and they are made of latex. I had to use that day and night. This band was supposed to correct the position of one of my premolars, that was responsible fot putting my bite "off". It took only a few days before I noticed a vast improvement. Today, I'm still wearing elastics at night, but I will tell more about that in my future posts.
Forgot to add a few pictures!
I was supposed to attach these pictures to the previous post. These are between 2 and 5 months of orthodontics treatment. The finnish text "7 viikkoa" in one of the pictures means "7 weeks", as in seven weeks in braces for the lower teeth, and four months from the beginning of the whole treatment.
Deep bite correction with elastics
After about six months, my orthodontist put new metal loops on both of my canines. I was supposed to hook a Rabbit from this loop to the metal hook on my lower molar (on both sides). The purpose of this was to bring my lower teeth forward, resulting in the correction of my deep bite. I have no pictures where I bite my teeth together and the deep bite actually isn't very visible that way, so you probably wouldn't be able to see the progress from the pictures anyway. But I will post a picture with the elastics in place.
I wore those rubber bands day and night for about three months, after which my ortho gave me permission to wear them only at night. But during daytime, I was given a new kind of elastics to wear, this time hooked in a triangular fashion at the same place the very first Rabbit had been. I am hesitant to show a picture of this configuration, since my teeth are really BROWN in that photo. I had just bought an new espresso maker and apparently the coffee I now was enthusiastically drinking was super staining. :D I bought whitening paste that was more abrasive and that took care of the stains, but they are visible in the picture nontheless. :D
However, there is a reason I would like to share that picture anyway. When you look at my photos, pay attention to my upper incisors. The middle ones are positioned somewhat asymmetrically, and their edges don't seem to be at the same level. It would seem, that the right one (left in the picture) is a bit shorter than the other and looks as if it is laterally tilted. The right lateral incisor (again, left one in the picture) looks like it should be brought forward slightly. This hasn't changed during the treatment. So, I discussed this with my ortho and she put a bend in the wire to bring the lateral incisor forward. This was at the beginning of June, at ten month milestone. The picture itself was taken at the end of July, and well, the tooth didn't seem to have moved much. I saw a teeny tiny difference, but that was all. My ortho told me that she would address the laterally tilted incisor later. I was also told that I might be out of braces by christmas, depending on how much fine tuning I wanted for the front teeth. Yay!
In my next update, I will complain more about the incisors and show my current situation.
Results after one year
Here is my latest picture, taken today. I ate paella and it made my plastic (or are they rubber?) ligatures yellow, which is really obvious in pictures taken with the flash on. Anyway, it seems to me that the right lateral incisor (left in the picture) is now moving forward. But, for some reason central incisor next to it now seems even shorter! I wonder why it has shortened (or retracted or whatever would be the right way to describe it) - and it definately has, since I remember that when i bit the edges of my incisors together, I used to be able to bring it into contact with my lower incisors, but now I'm not. I'd say the difference in lenght is about one millimeter. I find this one stupid millimeter really annoying! I think that in a beautiful smile, the symmetry of the central incisors is very important, more important than the symmetry (in length) of the lateral incisors.
I'm wondering, if this is one of those things that "get worse before they get better", or did my ortho place the new bends in the wire in the wrong place. :D She said that she would have to reposition one of the brackets next time (I should have asked which one) but that we will first see how far the wire adjustment alone would go. I hope that they would be equal in length soon. If there is much asymmetry left after orthodontics, my teeth would have to be either shaved down to some extent, or I would have to consider bonding or even veneers. One of the main reasons I chose orthodontics in the first place was to limit the need for aggressive additional procedures. For that reason, I'm really not much into the veneers idea. Or aggressive shaving, as my teeth already have so much erosion.
I will write an update when something new comes up!
Problems with wisdom tooth
Since the beginning of summer, I've had a couple of episodes of pain/infection/irritation associated with my only remaining, partially erupted wisdom tooth. Or actually I have two of them remaining, but the other one has not erupted and I hope it never will. This problematic wisdom tooth is on my lower jaw, left side. It started erupting around 2011 and I showed it to a dentist but he didn't think it needed to ne removed then, which I wasn't too happy about. Clearly, it doesn't fit in my mouth and it traps smelly bacteria.
So, now it has started to bother me, and I scheduled an appointment with a dentist. I refused an emergency appointment, since I didn't think I had an emergency. But the appointment isn't until october, and if they are willing to operate, I might be out of my braces before that happens. The public dental care is quite crowded here. There is, of course, always the alternative of going to a private clinic, but the cost is about triple. So for now, I think I will just wait. Maybe it is better to remove the tooth after my braces are taken out, so that the recovery won't interfere with the monthly adjustments.
Last Thursday was my latest ortho appointment. My orthodontist repositioned the bracket on my right central incisor slightly higher, giving leverage for the archwire to pull the tooth downwards. Now let me tell you, removing that bracket was not pleasant at all. Brackets are removed mechanically by forceps and the fragile ceramic bracet broke in pieces when my ortho tried to twist it off. She had to gnaw the remainders off with the forceps and drill and shave and drill and shave for a good ten minutes or so. Twisting the bracket hurt a bit but the sound and sensation of drilling in my mouth was terrible and I was absolutely horrified for the whole time. It actually didn't hurt except for a very brief moment (maybe because the breeze caused by the drill hit my sensitive lateral incisor) but for the whole time I was sure that soon the drill will hurt me. Awful! I better take some sedatives when the time comes to remove all the brackets, otherwise I don't know how I can go through it. :D Had I known that removing ceramic brackets was this difficult, I would have gone with the metallic ones.
My ortho evaluated the laterel tilt I have in my front teeth and she thought it was better now, I don't see much change. I think it might be even worse than before. As soon as the wire was in place, the shorter tooth moved downwards and I think that the two central incisors are now pretty much at the same level. The shape of them makes it harder to say for sure. Now I feel that my left central incisor has moved subtly forward, the right lateral incisor still needs to come forward and the left lateral incisor is protruding too much. I think that the teeth are so tightly spaced that adjusting them in one direction makes them compensate in the other direction. I wish my ortho would strip my teeth just a bit with that sandpaper-like strip she has used a couple of times, at least that does not involve horrible drilling sounds. :D
Taking pictures of my teeth and seeing them makes me quite frustrated right now. I just hate their shape and color and it annoys me that they are still slanting to the other side. I wish they looked like normal teeth, white and nicely shaped. I've seen a few reviews and cases in which the orthodontic treatment has left the patient unhappy because the ortho has removed the braces too soon (and not because the teeth just couldn't be moved anymore) and that is something I don't want. I believe that avoiding this requires good communication between the ortho and the patient and I'm not sure if I am good at expressing my concerns and wishes to professionals of something I really don't know much about. I get this feeling that I'm stepping to their toes, if you know what I mean. I even wonder if I'm obsessing over nothing, at least when it comes to minor misalignment. I don't think that people even notice it or care about it, since they can't see my teeth the way they show in these photos and they usually don't stare at them anyway.
I almost forgot, I also got two new elastics to wear. On the left it goes from my upper canine to my lower second bicuspid, and on the right side forms a rectangle across the upper canine and first bicuspid and lower first and second premolar. I have to wear these 24/7 but I don't have them on in the picture.
Surgery in 2-3 months & ortho appointment
My appointment with the dentist (about my wisdom tooth) went well and I am now waiting for them to schedule me for surgery. They estimated that it would take about 2 or 3 months. I'm excited and scared at the same time - I don't like the wisdom tooth but surgery has some risks too, and of course, it is not pleasant and there will be pain for some time. And antibiotics, I really wouldn't like to take those but I guess they are for the best.
My ortho appointment was five days ago. I won't be posting pictures this time, because there isn't much change yet. Based on my complaints, she made some adjustments to the wire, and although there are some changes that can be felt when I bite my incisors together, they are too minor to be seen from a photo. We also discussed the esthetic shaping and possible bonding, and my ortho suggested that I see a cosmetic dentist before the removal of my braces, so that we can plan the procedures and discuss all possibilities now when there is no hurry.
I have a couple of places in mind that provide those esthetic procedures. I am, of course very interested in what they would suggest for my teeth, but I also have another reason to look forward to the visit with a cosmetic dentist: I'm planning to ask the dentist's opinion about the positioning of my incisors, because it obviously would be in their interest to have my teeth as well positioned as possible, so that there is minimal need to try correct it with shaving, veneers, etc. This way, I will have an "authority" to back me up and I won't feel so whiny and embarrassed about complaining of "non-existent" problems to my ortho - if the other cosmetic dentist said that these things should be corrected, then it can't be just my imagination. :D See how clever I am! :D
Decided to add a few pictures of my dream teeth. I don't know if I am able to achieve this look without aggressive shaving and veneers, but I would be happy even with a less "perfect" result. The last picture is maybe closest to something I might expect?
Survived the surgery!
I had my wisdom tooth surgery almost a weeks ago. The tooth came out in two pieces. I did not enjoy the surgery and was quite afraid, but it didn't hurt and the recovery has been easier than last time. I took pain killers for four days and now I don't need them anymore.
About the orthodontics, I don't have much to say. The situation has remained basically the same. My ortho has tried to straighten the tilt of my central incisors, but when one tooth moves slightly in one direction, the other frot teeth move slightly in other directions and the end result is no better. All this started when the bracket was repositioned to lower the right central incisor. Apparently, bringing the tooth just a bit lower made it occupy just a bit more space, leaving absolutely no room for adjustmets. My teeth look actually straighter in the picture that was taken just before the repositioning. I think, however, that the picture does not show how obvious the difference in the length of the teeth was. But anyway, now they are like this and I'm not sure if they can get any better. My ortho does not want to do IPR since my four front teeth are already so eroded. She says thet shaving the canines would lower my bite, so that it out of the question too.
This is frustrating. My ortho would like to remove my lower brackets next month, followed by the upper brackets maybe a month after that. I'm not sure if I should pursue for more experimenting with the slanting teeth or should I just leave them as they are.
I decided to ask my ortho to try one more time to fix the tilt in my central incisors. The picture shows how. That diagonal rubber band is SO painful. I think the tilt is better now, but guess what: the other incisor is again a bit shorter. :D :D This is so hilarious. I think this detour of five or six months has clearly shown that my teeth are not going to get better than this. On my next appointment, I'm going to tell my ortho that I'm satisfied with this outcome and the braces can come off. I'll let a cosmetic dentist try to to improve the shape and length of the front teeth later this year, after some whitening.
Five weeks left!
Just a quick update. This is what my teeth look like now. I told my ortho, that the braces can come off now as I understand that my teet are now the best they are ever going to get with orthodontics, without removing teeth. Scheduled the appointment five weeks from now. The braces are taken out on two separate visits, first the lower brackets and then the upper brackets a few days later. I will be getting a metallic wire behind my front teeth (both jaws) and a Hawley retainer for the upper teeth.
I will attach a picture here without that shows me smiling. No flash on. It looks a bit funny since it's a close up shot, but I didn't want people to be able to recognize me from it straight away. Anyway, it gives maybe a better picture of my facial proportions. As you can see, my teeth are far from perfect, but better than before the treatment. I'm excited to see what the cosmetic dentist is able to do. I'm probably not going to begin with the esthetic part right away, because the cost of taking the braces off is about 1300 euros (1500 dollars) and I need some time to save up money again. :D
Braces are out!
My braces were finally taken off last thursday (lower teeth and upper molar bands) and yesterday (upper teeth). I now have fixed retainers behind my incisors on both jaws. Additionally, I received a Hawley retainer for my upper teeth. Debonding the brackets was unpleasant but not painful. The lower, metallic brackets came off easily, but the ceramic ones shattered and required more work. I still have plenty of glue remaining to my upper teeth, and one of my molars has a big chunk of the glue left. I guess I have to go back to get them cleaned better. Wonder why the ortho didn't do it properly in the first place...
The retainers (all of them) are somewhat annoying. The Hawley retainer makes me want to gag. The fixed retainers feel a bit bulky behind my teeth. I guess I'll get used to them.
I am still unhappy about the tilt and shape of my teeth, but I understand that this is as straight as they can get and I need some cosmetic dentistry to address the problem with the length and shape. I have an appointment scheduled for next wednesday.
Here are a few pictures without the Hawley retainer. You can clearly see the problems in these photos. You might also be able to see the residual glue on my teeth in some photos.