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.

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