Stories from Readers

life with braces

A Braces Story from Down Under
by Mark in Melbourne, Australia

I can remember way back, when I was primary school about 11 or 12 at the most, there was a dental nurse that came to visit our school twice a year. If you needed fillings or whatever they took you to a HUGE dental place in the city of Melbourne and do what was needed. On one such visit, it was decided that a orthodontist would take a look at my crooked teeth. He took a look and said, "Well Mark, you need a 'plate' or retainer," and that I would have it in for years to come.

I was sent home with a note for Mum and Dad. They read it and said "OK, let's do it" (it was free). So the day came. I was all excited about getting a nice smile. I even used to joke with my mates back then that I have more room for food as I got a special plate (LOL). Anyway, we get to see the orthodontist -- a different one than my original visit. He pokes and prods my mouth for ages. Then he tells Mum and Dad we will NOT be putting a plate in Mark's mouth, as in my opinion he will lose all his teeth by the time heís 17!  OMG I thought, how can he tell when I will lose all my teeth?!

I went away all sad and had to explain to my mates why I didnít come back to school with a plate in my mouth or why my teeth won't be fixed. Mum and Dad never worried about it again, but when I was older in my late teens I would sit and think, "Wow I wish I had nice straight teeth and it might just MIGHT help with my self esteem." (I think my yucky smile made my shy and embarrassed to smile at people).

My top teeth were really bad. One top front tooth was in back of lowers, and the other front top was in front of lowers. They were hard to clean and it was hard to eat sometimes. Time went on, and it became harder to clean the gaps that were hard to get to. I never cleaned as much as I should. I know Iím bad; I should have cared more, but I never thought I would even fix my smile/bite. I had never even gone back to a dentist since the ortho told me itís a waste of time trying to fix my teeth. 

Over the subsequent years my teeth became more and more crooked, and the lowers were crowded. When I would bite, my lower jaw would move to the side so I could bite into the food. It became a real pain. I donít know to this day if my crooked front teeth caused me to have a lisp (my Sís sounded like EEEEEEEEEES), and boy did I get teased over it, (even at my work place).

Then one day a HUGE piece fell off my right side top tooth! There was a massive cavity on the back of it up near the gumline (and no, I never saw it and its wasnít sore at all). The day it fell out, my teeth looked like crap. I gave up smoking, which saved me $300 a month (cigarettes are $10 a pack here). With the money I saved I decided to bite the bullet so to speak, and saw two Orthodontists.

When I rang the first one I was so nervous and shaking so much I near dropped my cell phone!  I saw this doctor but I didnít like him; his attitude sucked.

I had to wait a week before I could see other Orthodontist. I liked this place much better. Newer stuff, nicer staff, and more people in waiting room. 

Finally they sat me down and looked at my teeth. The Ortho sees the BIG hunk missing from my top tooth. I told him I made an appointment to get it fixed at the other place. He said, "We have top dentists here would you like it done here?Ē I decided to let them do it (it would take a few appointments, since it turns out I had more than one cavity). Anyway, the Ortho has a good look at my teeth. He said they are rather crooked, and that we have two or three choices: 1. to fix it with a plate (Hawley again),  2.  braces (no time frame mentioned), or 3. surgery. He got a tooth model out and showed me how a bite should be. He also showed me braces close up and told me about all the different types.

After my cavities were filled and my teeth were cleaned,  I went back to the Ortho. He said he didn't think the Hawley will work at all. Surgery might work,  but braces is the best way, and they might be on for like 20 months, as thatís the average time his patients have them. I was starting to get excited at the prospect of having a nice smile at last,  but it will be  a long l road to a near perfect smile.

He sents me home without charging a fee (YIPEEE) and asked me to come back in a week for molds. I went home happy as can be, smiling from ear to ear. 

One week later, I got my the molds done and a wax impression of my bite. 

A week later, I went back. He got the molds out and showed me where all the bad points were, and told me I have two teeth that never came through; the ones next to top middles ones (I forget the names). It looks so funny seeing a model of your teeth outside of your mouth. They looked so HUGE! Then he asked if I wanted clear braces or steel. Clear would add $500 to the cost, and its only on the top 6 teeth. He said he usually doesn't like to use clear ones, as they take about 6 to 8 months longer to do the job. So right off I wanted steel ones. I was kinda worried what people would think of a 30 something guy in full metal braces. But then I decided, "stuff them; its my mouth and teeth I donít like and want to change, so yep let's DO IT!"

First I had spacers put in. On spacer day I was nervous and excited at the same time. It only took a few minutes to put them in, and then he told me to come back in nine days for the braces.

Well, the next nine days seemed to take forever to roll around, and when it did I had so many butterflies in my stomach I actually felt like I wanted to be sick. Finally I get to the Ortho's office and the time comes for the brackets. They put that cleaning stuff on my teeth and then the ortho put the lip spreader in (thatís a weird feeling I tell you), and he said, Open ya mouth but not too wide, and wiggle ya toes lots to keep circulation going as it might take awhile to fit ya braces. " All the top brackets go, and luckily no glue got on things it shouldnít have. Then came the molar bands. It took a few tries to find the right fit for  the top molars. Finally the molar bands go on and we wait for glue to set.  (It tastes gross doesnít it?!) Then after all the brackets and molar bands go one he takes lip spreader out and lets me close my mouth for first time and WOW what a weird feeling it is  to feel the steel/brackets on your teeth! They feel HUGE sharp cold and taste funny, too. I didn't have the arch wire in yet so they felt yucky.

The time comes to add the top arch wire, and because my molars are so twisted he couldnít get the wires through the tubes in the top molar bands so after some hemming and hawing he decided to take both molar bands off and thread the wire through the tubes, then put the bands back on. When the time came to put ligatures on, I went for the same color blue as what my spacers. I didnít want to stand out to much on first month in braces.

The lower brackets went on easily and there was no hassles with the arch wire like the top ones. I could feel a little pressure but nothing major. I walked around for a few hours before I went home.  I was so happy it was over with, what a relief it was! The pain didnít really start for like five plus hours and then it was hurties. Took some pain killers, didnít eat hard stuff, had ice cream. When I got home, Mum had visitors. After the visitors left, I called her into my computer room and I turned to her and smiled. She goes, "OMG ya got braces!" She knew I have wanted then to fix my smile for years but didn't know about all the appointments I'd made. She said, "Ya sneak I never knew!" The very next day I had to go to work. I was so scared going in and waiting for people's reactions to my metal mouth. No one knew at work what I had done, but all my worries were for no reason. No one said anything nasty, two guys even said, "You're brave Mark! We need them too but we could never get them."  I said, "Be brave; I was!" They still hurt at work the next day the ached for like three days.

Now my mishaps while in braces for the last four months... During the first week, I bit a bracket off! The ortho never used the curing light on the glue when brackets went on (I thought that was strange when he replaced the bracket he used the curing light), and since it has  held great. It was on a tooth that was lower then others so it hit lower teeth when I bit down. It stopped me from chewing correctly for a few days. 

In the same week, the top arch wire kept popping out. I went back and got it wired to the bracket. That was until the first adjustment, when he took the wire ligature off and never replaced it. The arch wire still doesn't sit in that bracket correctly, but he says the tooth needs to be spun around lots just like my molars.

I broke a ligature a day before my latest last adjustment, and just this past weekend the top wire popped out of the molar. I couldnít see the ortho for a few days, so I fixed it myself. Was it hard to get wire back into that tiny tube! 

So now here I am, four months into my treatment. I donít know what will happen at next adjustment. The original wires are still in, so maybe he will change them soon.

I'll keep you all informed in the Forum. Thanx for reading while I went on and on... cya all!

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