Monday, April 25, 2011

My First Week with Braces...

It's officially been one week since my braces were bonded and I must say I've come a long way. My teeth are still tender however don't hurt anymore. My cheeks on the other hand are taking a beating. Wax has become an essential in placing on the brackets that are digging into my cheeks and causing sores.

It differs where I place the wax from day to day. Somedays certain brackets cause more irritation than others. Other than that, not much to report.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 3 with Braces...

I feel great today with the exception of the sores on my cheeks from the far back brackets digging in. Wax has become my best friend and makes my mouth feel like it's at the spa. :) Oh, and by the way, my flossing time is down to 5 minutes, thanks to the Crest Glide Threader Floss!

Overall, things are going really well and I'm still experiencing pain from my teeth shifting but it's a manageable pain and this is the first day since getting my braces that I haven't taken Advil. 

Unless I see some major or drastic changes, I'll be blogging less often; probably every week or so and certainly when I have adjustments made. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 2 with Braces...

I woke up to some pain today but more because of the braces digging into my cheeks versus tooth pain. After brushing my teeth in the morning, I went ahead and placed wax on five areas in my mouth where the braces have create sores; wax on each of the last four molars and over the arch wire that's traveling over an entire tooth that's missing a bracket. The wax has certainly impaired my ability to speak without some sort of a lisp.

Other than the cheek pain, I don't have too much pain due to teeth shifting so that makes me happy however the sores on my cheeks is equally painful and annoying. I've taking some Advil this morning to help subside this pain. I tell you...if it's not one thing, it's the other!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 1 with Braces...

Today I woke up with a little pain but nothing too bad. I figured there wasn't any point in brushing my teeth until after I ate breakfast because they were just going to get food stuck in them and I'd have to clean them again. Once I finished eating scrambled eggs for breakfast and cleaning my teeth afterwards, I was definitely feeling the pain and tenderness of the braces.

A couple hours later at work, the pain was bad enough that I took a couple Advil. I'm not one who's fond of taking medication but I wasn't able to focus at work due to the constant tooth-achy pain.

By the time I got home from work today, the pain was still prominent so I ate a small dinner and lounged around for the rest of the day, taking a small nap to help the painful evening go by a little quicker. Since I am missing a bracket on a bottom tooth, the arch wire has quite a distance from one bracket to the other, leaving a bare wire that seems as sharp as one of those wire cutters you use to cut cheese. The inside of my bottom lip is being cut up by the arch wire so I've had to get crafty on figuring out how to cover it with wax. I've also had to place wax on one of the very back molar brackets since it's causing a sore. I'm already noticing that the tooth without a bracket attached is falling behind and not in line with the rest of my front bottom teeth anymore; I can't believe shifting is already occuring...even on day 1.

Before going to bed, I did my routine of using the Waterpik, brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash, applying wax, then applying Chapstick however this time, I used Crest Glide Threader Floss for flossing which totally rocks! It's a pre-cut piece of floss that has a stiff end that makes it easy to feed the floss under the arch wire. It cut down flossing time by 50%!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I got my braces today...

After squaring away the financials, the ortho assistant took a panoramic x-ray, then another x-ray of the side profile of my face. The orthodontist will use these x-rays to determine how to move my teeth to get the best results.

Afterwards, she took me back to the dental chair to begin taking impressions of my teeth to help them gauge what my teeth looked before braces were placed. She found a mouth tray that matched my upper and lower teeth/mouth size and then offered a list of flavors I could choose from for the impression material. I chose grape and strawberry; grape was my favorite! The assistant instructed me to take deep breathes through my mouth while the impressions are in my mouth to help prevent the gag reflex and to help the impression material set up faster.

Once they mixed up the grape-flavored impression material, they filled one tray and quickly placed it on my bottom teeth, pressed down firmly, and held it there to get good mold of all my bottom teeth and gum line. Having the bottom impression taken wasn't bad at all and was only in my mouth for about a minute or so before the mold set up. When she was trying to pull the impression out of my mouth, it felt funny, like it was suction-cupped to my teeth and gums so she had to wiggle before it started to give way. 

She followed the same procedure with strawberry-flavored impression material for the top teeth which was a little more uncomfortable since it seemed larger than the first. Breathing was a bit restricted but still wasn't as bad as I was expecting. She actually ended up taking a second impression of my top teeth because the first didn't come out as well as she had hoped.

After taking the impressions, they pour a plaster-type liquid inside until it hardens which makes an identical mold of my teeth and gums. Then they send the molds to a lab where they are scanned and sent back to the orthodontist as an electronic digital 3-D model that the ortho can reference on a computer screen during my adjustments.

Since they were sending my molds to the lab and wouldn't receive them back, I asked if they would make a second set of molds for me to take home as a souvenir of my teeth before braces. The molds are fascinating to look at and I can clearly see the indents/wear my bottom teeth have caused to the back of my top teeth. It's also nice to be able to look at the impressions to see what has/will change with the position of my teeth.

After the impressions were taken, I knew the next step was bonding the brackets so I made sure I brought Chapstick and facial moisturizer to apply around my mouth before they began since my mouth would be stretched open for a while during the process. I've heard plenty of horror stories of dry lips splitting open while they have your mouth stretched open so I didn't want to take any chances.

They laid me back in the dental chair and inserted an expander in my mouth to allow the orthodontist to access all my teeth with ease. Then they placed a suction device under my tongue which I had to bite onto so it would help dry my mouth out and control any new saliva.

Once my teeth were dry, they painted on an etching solution that makes the surface of my teeth a bit rough so the bracket glue will stick well. Afterwards, they rinsed it off, dried my teeth with a suction device, them applied the glue in the center of each tooth for my brackets. The ortho placed a bracket on each tooth, one at a time and used a UV light to set the glue. It took about 45 minutes to place every bracket onto each tooth and was a painless process. 

There were a couple brackets she had to pop off to reset as they weren't sitting on my teeth properly which didn't hurt at all. I just felt a little pressure when they clamped onto the bracket to pinch them until they popped off. I am not, however, a fan of the grinding that is done to grind down the bracket glue; it stinks and reminds me of a drill the dentist uses.

Once all the brackets were bonded, the ortho went over each bracket again with the UV light for a longer amount of time than before. Then they removed the expander and I finally got to feel the braces on my lips for the first time. They felt like they were sticking off my teeth about an inch! Then I looked in the mirror; geesh...not a good look!!! 

After having me rince my mouth out, she had me bite down to see if any bottom brackets were hitting my top teeth which they were in a couple places. The front bottom bracket was hitting bad enough that she took it off, ground down the glue, and decided she would place that bracket on that tooth during my next adjustment to give my teeth time to move out of the way.

The next step was to install the arch wire. The assistant opened the slide doors on each bracket and began to place the arch wire, starting with the front teeth and working their way towards my back teeth, closing the slide door with each bracket as the fed the wire through. As soon as they connected teeth together, I could immediately feel pressure which was not painful. Before I left, they gave me a goodie bag which included toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, floss threaders, wax, a "christmas tree" brush to get in between brackets, directions on how to floss and brush with braces, a travel bag, and a travel toothbrush.

Once I left the office, I felt pretty good; no pain, just pressure which was totally manageable. My ortho told me to go ahead and eat a big dinner as soon as I got home because they pain would begin later this evening. After I ate, I used the Waterpik for the first time which was great at blasting the food stuck in my braces, then I brushed afterwards. It took about 4 hours and one of my bottom teeth were really starting to hurt so I took a couple Advil which helped soften the pain to a tolerable level.

Before I went to bed, I used the Waterpik, then brushed following the directions the ortho gave me, flossed (which was by far the worst part), then used Listerine mouthwash to rinse. It probably took me at least 20 minutes to floss since I have to feed the string under the arch wire for every tooth. My teeth are a little sore but the Advil has made the pain subside...for now. I'm sure tomorrow will be a painful day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day Before...

I can't believe I'm getting braces tomorrow! I always wanted braces as a teenager due to the embarrassment of crooked teeth and it seemed like everyone had braces except for me but now that I'm actually getting them, I'm pretty anxious, especially knowing I will have them for the next 18 months or so.

When I called last Thursday to schedule my first appointment, they asked me how soon I wanted to get in. I want to start treatment as soon as possible; no need to prolong the inevitable! Lucky for me, they just had a cancellation for the following Monday, April 18th, which is now....TOMORROW!

Based on the conversation I had with the scheduler, the entire appointment should take about 90 minutes. After squaring away the financials, they are going to take side x-rays, take impressions of my teeth (molds), and bond the brackets to my teeth.

Everyone has told me that having the braces bonded to your teeth isn't painful however the pain begins a few hours afterwards and it feels like constant pressure is being applied to your teeth which causes a constant pain similar to a toothache. I will be taking Advil before I go to the ortho office to help alleviate any unnecessary pain. 

While I was getting my first consult, I saw some pretty gruesome pictures of pitted teeth, discoloration, and white spots that can occur when teeth and braces aren't cared for properly. It does make me a bit nervous but certainly brings the awareness of how important it is to take care of my teeth and braces throughout this process.

I'm sure my ortho will give me a care baggie with a few starter supplies however, for my own preparation, I've made a few purchases based on research and suggestions from friends and my husband who have had braces:
  • Waterpik (came with 6 tips; one was an orthodontic tip use to clean around brackets)
  • DenTek Wax for Braces (to help cover any parts of my braces that cause irritation to my cheeks
  • DenTek Easy Brush Cleaners (otherwise known as "christmas tree" brushes to easily clean around brackets
  • Crest Glide Threader Floss (floss that is pre-cut that has a stiff end to help feed it under the arch wires
The ortho office advised me ahead of time that I should not use any whitening products on my teeth while having braces so that my teeth aren't discolored under the brackets once they remove them. Also, using rinse and toothpaste products containing fluoride is essential to help protect my teeth during this process.

I've taken some "before" pictures so you can see what my teeth look like before I get braces tomorrow.

Top Teeth

Bottom Teeth
I'll follow up tomorrow with details of the "install" process, how I'm feeling, what it's like, and some metal mouth pictures!

Wish my luck!!

The Beginning of My Journey...

Why hello there and welcome to my braces blog!!

I decided to blog about my braces journey so I can look back at the progress, share my journey with family and friends, and help others who are, may be, or will be going through their own braces journey. Please do not hesitate to ask questions or to leave a comment!

I'm 30 and getting braces because my bottom teeth are hitting the back of my top teeth which have created a groove and is wearing down the enamel. If I don't fix the bite issue, my front four top teeth will eventually wear down enough, exposing my roots causing extreme sensitivity and weakened teeth, which would eventually require crowns ~ no thanks.

The marks indicate where my top teeth are worn:

During my initial consultation on March 15, 2011, I explained why I was there. The ortho assistant took front and side profile pictures of my face structure and natural smile as well as all angles of my teeth. Apparently, orthodontists have the ability to reshape your jaw, face structure, and even change the way your lips look based on how they move your teeth. Luckily I have good facial symmetry and full lips so I'll only need treatment which focuses on my teeth! Fyew!

Afterwards, the ortho came in, looked at my pictures, and found a few additional issues besides the enamel-wearing my dentist discovered:
  • I have an overbite (meaning my upper teeth protrude forward, leaving a significant gap between the top and bottom teeth)
  • I have crowding in the front
  • I have a deep bite (you can only see 40% of my bottom teeth when my teeth are together but should be able to see 75%)
  • The center of my bottom teeth and top teeth do not line up properly
  • My molars are not lined up correctly (your teeth are supposed to fit together like gears, sitting in between each other; mine sit directly on top of one another)

Afterwards, my ortho stepped me through the treatment process and said I wouldn't have to get my wisdom teeth removed but may need to down the road if they seem to be moving my other teeth. 

Unfortunately, due to the alignment issues I have with my molars, she suggested braces versus Invisalign. For aesthetic and comfort reasons, I was hoping for Invisalign but she said if I was going to pay the money and do it right, I might as well do it right the first time by getting braces.

She recommended braces called In-Ovation which are self-ligating braces. Self-ligating braces are supposed to have faster results, shorter appointment times with fewer office visits, and are more comfortable than traditional twin-bracket braces. She estimated the treatment time to be around 18 months.

Her office offers In-Ovation braces in metal (called In-Ovation R) or clear/milky ceramic (called In-Ovation C). I have opted for the metal braces since I'm self-conscious about the color of my teeth anyway and from pictures I've seen online, it seems like the ceramic brackets look better on really white teeth but can make already less-than-white teeth look yellowish and not clean.