Preface: in about 14 months I am getting married....
Preface: in about 14 months I am getting married. I have always wanted to straighten my teeth, but couldn't afford to until I started my new job in November. I immediately spoke to my dentist about straightening, and she indicated I would need to have my wisdom teeth out before starting. Had the wisdom teeth surgery (all 4, 2 of which were partial bony impactions), waited several weeks, and then had several consultations with both dentists and orthodontists. Although one orthodontist was the most expensive, he was the one my dentist referred me to and I liked that he sat and answered all of my (loony over-researched) questions. Everyone I spoke to decided I was not a good candidate for Invisalign, so I accepted that traditional braces were my only option.
The braces: My orthodontist offers both metal and clear brackets. I chose the clear because I am a new professional and also quite vain lol. I will have several molar bands which will be metal though. My estimated treatment plan duration is 18-24 months, which will include a bite plate and elastics at some point. The doctor agreed to remove my brackets for my wedding, and they will be replaced after my honeymoon, for an extra fee of course (he said a couple hundred dollars, but this was not part of my contract so I don't have a specific figure yet). The clear brackets his office uses are the Radiance plus. Each bracket is made of one solid lab created clear sapphire, so they are much clearer than most other clear brackets (e.g. Clarity, mystique, gac's clear SL). There is one other brand that has a sapphire bracket- Inspire Ice. I'm not sure why one would be better than the other. They both require traditional ligatures, in other words they are not self ligating. I asked about staining with the clear ligature bands, and he said they use white wire ties with the clear brackets, so no staining, although appointments take longer when using wire ties. Also, they use metal colored arch wires, not the white ones, which I actually prefer because the white ones tend to have the white coating scraped off and also because I think all white looks weird from far away.
So far: yesterday I had spacers put in to make room for molar bands in the back. From where the spacers are placed, it seems he wants to do bands on all 8 molars, plus all 4 2nd bicuspids. I realized after I got home that you can see my upper 2nd bicuspids when I smile, so at my next appointment I am going to ask if he would be willing to try with regular brackets on those 2 teeth. I know everyone says "just be proud you're doing something for yourself!" but how I look for 2 years of my life does matter. The spacers are still not really causing me pain, except when I chew, but I can chew normal foods gently. I think maybe I keep comparing this to the wisdom teeth removal pain, and I have a feeling nothing will ever come close to the pain of a dry socket. I'm going to attach some pictures of my teeth before the spacers... Don't judge the terrible picture taking :)
As of my last update, spacers not causing me too much pain. HA!! Never have I meant "I spoke too soon" more. To be fair, they were not hurting when I was not attempting to use my mouth, but anything more solid than eggs was wayyy too hard to chew. So, enter my weekend of eggs, avocado, and tuna salad from a bowl. Today, day 5 of spacers, I will attempt to eat a *slightly* more solid lunch of pasta and soft sesame chicken. I can already tell that this braces situation will contribute nicely to my wedding diet plan. Cheers!
Last Day with Spacers
So today is my last full day with the spacers in. Initially, the soreness was only for my chewing molars where the spacers actually are. Interestingly after the first week, the soreness made its way forward all the way to my incisors. By this point almost two weeks after installation there is only one spot where they are still causing me pain. One of the spacers seems to be aggravating my gums because they are red and a little swollen over that spot. My first thought was "oh god I definitely have an abscess or something and there's no way I come back from this. I die today." After a bit of G*oogl*ing I now think that this particular spacer has just crept down under my gum line and is causing irritation.
Overall, I feel that I have had a pretty easy time with the spacers, much easier than I was expecting having read how uncomfortable they were for people on this forum and on arch*wired. And also given that I have 10 total, instead of the usual 4 or 8. And also that considerable elbow grease had to go into shoving those bad boys in there with the amount of tightness/crowding I have. Still, I am looking forward to being able to blast back there with my waterpik again. I get a sort of itchy sensation around my gums when I skip doing that or flossing for more than a day, and that is certainly aggravating.
Tomorrow I get these spacers removed and molar bands installed, plus one more set of spacers. Then back next week for the rest of the equipment!
Eek! Today I had all 10 of my spacers removed, and 4 molar bands installed on each of my first molars. The ortho tech I had today was *very* rough. I am learning that it makes a big difference which person is playing around in your mouth. That being said, she got the job done, answered my questions, and adjusted bands where I said they were uncomfortable. She also used some kind of grinding machine to file/smooth down the inside parts of my bands, which in sure I should be grateful for.
The first thing I did when I sat down in the chair, however, before we started, was ask if we could forego the band on my upper 2nd bicuspid. She got the ortho and when we talked about it and I showed him my smile again he was totally cool with just putting metal brackets on those two instead. That means I had spacers around those teeth for the past 2 weeks for no reason, but you can't let the fallacy of sunk costs let you make a bad decision. I'm glad I asked!
To remove the spacers, she just grabbed them with some sort of metal grabber and yanked. Yikes! Then she tried different sizes of molar bands on each of the four molars they were going on. The ortho came to check the fit of the bands and gave the green light. After that the bands had to be pulled off, glue was applied to the bands, and then we went through the process of shoving them back on. She did a pretty thorough job cleaning the excess glue off I think; I can't see it anywhere.
Finally we had to take another impression of the roof of my mouth so they can make a bite plate for me for next time. Because of my overbite, I will likely be biting down on my front lower brackets which could chip my teeth. The bite plate keeps my teeth from being able to come all the way together so that doesn't happen. It looks kind of like a Hawley retainer, but with no metal bar across the front. I'll include a picture of that when I get it.
The hooks on these molar bands make me feel like my cheeks will be hamburger by the time I wake up tomorrow. First stop after work- dental wax please!
Also, I couldn't get this picture to post upright, even after I rotated it. Maybe a moderator can adjust it??
Hooks on Brackets: Medieval Torture Device?
So far, all I have in my mouth are 4 molar bands with brackets attached, and four new spacers (in addition to the 10 I had before). Spacer pain? A thing of the past. Hello cheek blisters! They only hurt when I eat, talk, smile, move, sleep, breathe... For some reason only the upper brackets are bothering my cheeks, but MAN are they bothering them! Enter Ortho Dots. I ordered these sweet little babies on Am*zon a few days ago thinking I would need them when all the brackets were on. Thank goodness! I tried them on each top bracket about an hour ago, and wow the relief was amazing!
They're individually wrapped - in similar packaging to pill blister packs - little blocks of wax with special adhesive on one side to make them stick. For me, no learning curve, except getting the pesky little things open. I just stick it on the offending brackets and off I go. You can leave them in to eat and drink, and so far I've had a (pain free) breakfast without issue. Yay! So anybody reading RealSelf for tips and tricks, this is my number one at this point. Ortho Dots! The best $40 I ever spent. I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't have shared this....if they are sold out when I go to buy more I'll know who to blame!
Got the braces on this morning! It took the full 2 hours to do the whole thing, as promised. First the tech removed my spacers on the bottom and fitted me with 2 more molar bands. Then she "smoothed" my teeth where the brackets were going with a grinder machine. Then, the cheek separator and sucky thingy to keep my mouth dry. Surprisingly, the orthodontist placed my brackets himself, which I was pleased about. I thought that the techs would do that too; it seems that's the case at many practices. As you can see, he decided to leave one tooth on the bottom without a bracket. This is so my top teeth don't hit it when I bite down. I was slightly hitting the bracket on the same tooth on the other side, but he reshaped or sanded down that bracket so I just barely can touch it with my top teeth. They gave me the bite plate to wear only at night, and when my bite opens up a bit they'll bond that last bracket and I can lose that dreadful spring, which they said was for my comfort. It took a long time for the tech to get the wire ties on my bottom brackets because they're so crowded and crooked down there. As they straighten up it should become easier. I had a side by side stitched together but the website won't let me upload it because the file is too large.
Today is the fifth day since I was fully braced. The soreness has decreased VERY significantly, to the point where I can almost chew solid food. At first I had a couple hot spots where the brackets were rubbing the insides of my cheeks and lips. On those spots, I kept wax on constantly except for a few hours in the mornings. Over the course of a few days, I decreased wax use to only half the day plus the night, and now only the night. I really didn't want to develop more full blown sores, so I was careful. The ortho techs advised me that the more you go without the wax the faster your cheeks/lips will toughen up and stop being irritated. I wanted to ease my mouth into it though, and it seems to be working for me. Last night I wore wax only in one problem spot on my lower fronts.
What I have not grown accustomed to yet is moving my lips around/over the brackets in the front. My top lip rests awkwardly on the top brackets and sits there unless I actively puff out my lips and re-cover the brackets. Out of curiosity, I did check in the mirror to see whether this looked as bad for reals as I thought it felt like. I looked like a dog who gets his big chops stuck up on his teeth so you can see everything in his mouth. It was bad. This may be something that you just don't get used to, or possibly as my teeth align the top brackets will move gradually out of my lip's way. Here's to hoping that's the case!
1 week in
As in my last post, my soreness is getting better every day. I now use no wax, although my lips still behave oddly when I'm talking. There's a little bit of movement on the top arch, but none on the bottom that I can see. And the movement on the top has only made everything look worse. It's gonna get a little worse before it gets better, amiright? It gets better though RIGHT??
2 weeks in
Nothing new to report really. My front teeth are still sore, so I don't bite anything with them. I'm not supposed to bite into anything with my front teeth anyway though, so that's probably a good thing. One bottom premolars has become sore this week also, so I'm sort of chewing everything on my other side. It's hard to tell any difference in my teeth in the mirror, but in comparison pictures I can definitely see the archwires straightening out. My top right central incisor is stubbornly stuck behind the lateral incisor next to it. I can't wait for that guy to move out! On the bottom, the crowding is so severe it's pretty hard to tell if anything is moving to a better position.
3 weeks in
Movement lull, I think my top right central incisor is slowly getting in line.
10 Sep 2016
5 months post
So I experienced some slow moving bottom teeth. They were so crowded on the bottom that we had to use some springs to shove them apart and make room, but things are starting to fall in line down there and I am fully braced and engaged. Here are some update photos!
11 Oct 2016
6 months post
Today we went up to a square wire on the top and a larger round wire on the bottom. Also, he put a power chain on the top front four to close the gap that was forming up there. And now for some update photos :)
15 Nov 2016
7 months post
Last week I had an adjustment. We went up to a steel wire on the top but didn't change wires on the bottom. The ortho is waiting for one or two bottom front teeth to rotate more into alignment before moving up wires. On one of them he changed the white teflon coated tie to a steel tie for better grip.
7 months down
30 Nov 2016
7 months post
I've got 7 months under my belt, so that feels good. My top teeth are basically done with phase 1- aligning and leveling. Phase 2 is working on the bite. We can't move on yet though because as you can see, my bottom front teeth just won't get in line....the jerks. Once we get them in line, I will still have at least one wire to go up before we can start phase 2. That would be the steel wire. To protect the work done at phase 1, you can't use rubber bands (the most common tool for bite adjustment) until you're on a wire strong enough to hold all the teeth in alignment while they extrude and/shift for overbite and midline (otherwise the wire could just bend out of alignment). I've been on a square steel wire on the top for about 4 months, just waiting while we try different things to get the bottom teeth in line. Last adjustment all we changed was adding a steel tie to one of the bottom central incisors. I don't see that it changed anything besides intruding that particular tooth slightly.
On another note- things that have gone wrong. Very minimal! I like to think it's a combination of a very good ortho team and me following the rules like no sticky candy or nuts. I haven't had a bracket dislodge - knock on wood. I did have a pokey wire after my last adjustment, but I went in the next day when I noticed it and they snipped it for me. It was extremely uncomfortable in the meantime... wax doesn't stick back there very well so it was just raw for a while.
Had an appointment yesterday. We went up to a square steel wire on the bottom, stayed with the round steel wire on top. Also, now that we have steel on the top and the bottom, we added elastics :-/. Today I am in unbelievable pain that kept me up all night. The combination of the elastics and the new wire is in-sane. I'm hoping this will abate in the next couple days. The point of class 2 elastics is to pull in my overjet and close my overbite.
23 Jan 2017
9 months post
Had an adjustment today for the first time after using the class 2 elastics for 7 weeks. Today we went up a wire size on the bottom and left the top alone. You can see in the pictures that he also added a clear powerchain across the entire bottom arch, which is already closing the 1 or 2 little gaps that have appeared by this evening. He had the hygienist perform this "cinching" procedure on the ends of the bottom arch wire also, which was quite painful. It sort of pulled the arch wire tighter toward the back... yikes! Of course, with the class 2 elastics we are closing the overjet (that's the horizontal protrusion of the top teeth farther out than the bottom). He said I'd be in elastics for the next couple months, which I feel might be an under exaggeration. I figure I'll be in the elastics for almost the rest of treatment, which could be anywhere from 9 to 15 more months, according to his original estimates.
Adjustment at 10 months
2 Mar 2017
11 months post
I had an adjustment yesterday at about 10 months. On the top he added a spring to my left side between my lateral incisor and canine to shift my front teeth to the right. As you can see, after only 24 hours the midline has been straightened considerably. The wire and everything else was kept the same on the top.
On the bottom we went down from a square steel wire to a more flexible round wire, as my bottom teeth had experienced some crowding as a result of wearing the elastics. We also put another powerchain across the whole bottom arch. These clear power chains stain like woah... the one they took out yesterday looked brown when they put it down on the white tray.
Exciting news- I got a debracing date for my wedding! We will be putting them back on afterwards since I'm not done, but they are coming off at the end of April, and my wedding is on June 10, followed by my honeymoon. I will probably be out of the braces for about two months total before they go back on. They will give me Essix retainers in the meantime- those are the kind that look like Invisalign. I am sort of worried about that; the day I get my braces off we take impressions for the retainers, but I don't go back to pick them up until the following week! That's a full week without anything holding them!! Yikes!
My total estimated treatment time was 18-24 months and I'll have had them for 12 months when they come off, so after they go back on I should have anywhere from 6 months (yay!) to 12 months (boo!) left.
Got my braces off this week temporarily until July, when they'll go back on. I haven't asked - I'm too afraid of the real timeline - but I am thinking I should have another year with them once they go back on. You can see a little bit in the picture that they left the molar bands on so we didn't have to do the whole spacers process again. So I'm free for now! Woo hoo!! I will share that the removal of the clear brackets was heinous. There were also a couple regular metal brackets in there, and they popped off like it was nothing. The clear ones have to be drilled and scraped and drilled, and then pulled off so with so much force I thought my teeth were going to rip out. I am considering going to full-on metal for round 2; I don't know if I can do that removal process again.