My First Day in Braces

experiences of ArchWired readers

 Nichole from Florida


I was one of those unfortunate ones who was unable to get braces as a teenager. Now at 26, I finally have them and I had no idea what I was in for! I had the spacers put in two weeks ago in preparation for my TPA (Transpalatal Arch). On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, I had my TPA and top braces (ceramic, of course) with pearl ligatures put on. I chose the pearl ligatures because I am ADDICTED to coffee and cannot resist tomato and curry based foods and apparently they resist stains better than the clear ones (I found that suggestion from one of the stories on this site, thank you ArchWired). I will have the bottom braces put on, hopefully, at my next visit in two months. The TPA will come off a month after that. I will be in braces for 2 to 2 1/2 years.

The braces have actually not been that bad. The TPA has been my arch-nemesis! My first night, my tongue was getting stuck in the TPA whenever I attempted to talk or eat. It was bleeding and swollen. I called my orthodontist the next morning and he had me come in to fix it. Apparently, the side (which has a loop of some kind) was opened just enough to allow my poor tongue to get shredded to pieces. The orthodontist took a pair of pliers (or what looked like pliers) and bent the loops back away from my tongue and closed the loops as much as he could. I spent five minutes trying to get my tongue stuck again before I left and it appeared the problem was fixed.

Once the major tongue-TPA problem had been fixed, next came the rest of the journey. I have found that with a TPA, it is near impossible to talk without sounding like Elmer Fudd. “You wasicawwy wittle wabbit!!” Food with any kind of solidity is impossible to chew or swallow for that matter. My first night I thought I would be able to handle Mac & Cheese. Every time I tried to swallow a noodle, the noodle would bounce off of the TPA and land back on my tongue. I got so tired of fighting it, I started to throw the macaroni into the back of my mouth and swallowed them whole. Since then, I’ve pretty much subsided on liquids and soft foods (diced peaches, grits, mashed potatoes, soup, and yogurt). The ortho says that I should get used to the TPA after about a week. I’m three full days into it, so I guess I’m halfway there.

One thing I was worried about was how my coworkers would react. A few of them knew I was getting them beforehand. I couldn’t keep it a secret; I was too excited! Since I have the ceramics, most people didn’t really seem to notice. Well, that is, until I spoke. Who couldn’t notice the sudden Elmer Fudd impression? Most had some kind of story about it - “Oh, I remember having braces back in high school.”, “My wife had them a few years back. Good luck!”, and so on.

Right now I am embarrassed of the way I sound when I talk, but I can tell it is getting somewhat better. I have no idea what to do with my lips. It feels like they don’t cover the braces. My tongue tends to be sore and tired of it’s little cage by the end of the day. I look forward to getting out of the weird ‘gappy stage’ as some call it, though, for me it is more like the weird ‘overlappy stage’. I look forward to when I can laugh without covering my mouth or holding back. I look forward to keeping all of my pictures and not throwing away the ones that show too much of my teeth. I look forward to not having people look strangely at my mouth as I speak. So, I have a lot to look forward to and, though my story so far hasn’t been great, I think this will be well worth it.

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