Sunday, April 17, 2011

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.

Since I found out I had to get braces, the process has been pretty stressful in terms of feeling comfortable about making a final choice with an orthodontist.

Dr. #1 was referred by a friend who had a great experience. He said the customer service was exquisite, the staff was very friendly, and he has a fantastic smile now. My only concern was the price of treatment which was significantly more than I was expecting so before committing, I decided to get a couple other opinions on the actual treatment options and price. She's the ortho I decided to go with and who all the info above is based from.

Dr. #2 was really pushing Invisalign, which made me happy until he told me he would be removing four molars! He was planning on removing the four molars (see pics below) to pull my front teeth to the side/back and the remaining molars would be pulled forward to fill the gap of my missing teeth; not an option I was willing to take just to have Invisalign.

I could tell he wasn't much of a fan of regular braces but offered to do those too. He was not a fan of the self-ligating braces but still offered them if I really wanted them. Treatment time would be 18 months. He was significantly cheaper than Dr. #1 by about $1,200.

Dr. #3 was pushing Invisalign too however said I could go with regular braces if I wanted to; either option would work. Just like Dr. #2, she was not a fan of the self-ligating braces and did not offer them anymore. She said self-ligating braces work quickly in the beginning of treatment but are more difficult to make slight movements towards the end of treatment.

Her consultation was not as in-depth as the first two consults and she did not give me a definitive treatment plan. She said after I sign up for treatment and pay the down payment, we would figure out which plan I would go with which may require me to have my four molars pulled. Treatment time would be about 2 years. Since she wasn't willing to give me a thorough enough consultation so I knew what I would be signing up for, I quickly decided she was not a viable option. She was also $600 more expensive than Dr. #1. Geesh.

After weighing my options, I decided to go with Dr. #1. Even though she was more expensive than what I was planning on spending, she gave the most thorough consult which made me feel comfortable and my friend had such great results and nothing but good things to say about her. Cost isn't always everything.

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