My First Day in Braces

experiences of ArchWired readers

Carol from St. Louis

I was very nervous, after reading other stories, about the pain involved.  A little pain, discomfort, soreness, I can live with.  Pain for extended periods; no.  My husband kept asking me if I really wanted to go through with getting braces.  I finally decided that if I did not do it now I would look back and wish that I had and then I would be too old.  I turn 50 this year. 
Spacers were attempted to be put on the Thursday before braces.  They, two assistants and the orthodontist, were able to get in two of the eight they wanted.  It seems my teeth are vry close together.  She, the ortho, had told me that I might need to have a tooth removed.  But she is trying first, I am sure after my reaction, to straighten them without a removal.
I never had a recommendation to have braces, but as I aged my teeth have become crooked on the lower in the front and my right incisor kept hitting my bottom tooth.  I wanted to save my teeth, and so I requested braces.  We have pretty great dental insurance and I thought I would only have my bottom teeth done, but the ortho said for both upper and lower to be done.  I did not realize that my upper teeth had started to become crooked.
I did not want to pay the extra for white braces - my teeth are somewhat yellow (genetics, coffee??) so ...
The spacers were (ok, only two of them) were not really bad; a little sore, and we celebrated Cinco de Mayo afterward, anyway!  The next Monday when I went to have the braces put on the assistant attempted to put on bands around the spacer teeth.  Try as she might, she could not get it to go all the way down over the tooth.  So I ended up with all brackets.  My lower molars have no brackets as they are all crowned and she said the brackets would not hold.
Having the braces put on, to me, was almost like having your hair done.  I just relaxed through the whole thing.  I did take two ibuprofen about an hour before the procedure, and took about a total of four more until the end of the second day.  The ortho and assistant were extremely nice and informative.  They kept asking me if I was OK.  The only bad part was the bonding material that they told me would taste bad, sour.  It was sour, but not horrible, and only lasted for a few seconds.  They put a device in my mouth to keep it open, but I have had more annoyance with having to keep my mouth open during a regular dental cleaning.  All in all, I was very happy with this part of the procedure.  They were very efficient, kind, and worked well together.
The shock was seeing my mouth full of metal.  I guess I really thought the appliances would be all nice and straight in my mouth.  I went to work after treating myself to a malt at a local ice cream shop.  I had talked with a few other adults who had had braces where I work (I am a teacher at an elementary school).  They stopped me and asked me about it and were supportive.  The real embarrassment is greeting people and seeing their surprise with you in braces.  Some do not say anything, but sort of stare.  Some comment and state they want to do this but are afraid.  Some have told me their braces story.  My students just comment and I get the typical children type of questions, inquiring, but not mean-spirited.  No.  I do not like the way I look in braces.  No.  My husband does not like the way I look in braces.  Yes.  I am glad that I did this.  Yes.  It will really only be for a short while -- life is flying by quickly.  (My quite humorous husband has come up with all kinds of zingers.) 
It has now been five days since the braces were put on.  I can eat things on the approved list if they are cut into small pieces.  Trying to bite something harder than a ripe banana feels like it would hurt if I attempted to fully bite down.  Chewing is done on those back molars without brackets/bands.  I have not had any pain.  They have not hurt.  I am almost constantly reminded that I have them on because I feel pressure from they being pulled, but that is what they are supposed to be doing.  After eating the first few days the teeth were somewhat sore.  But I can take this soreness. 
What is painful is keeping them clean.  I guess as an adult you realize the importance of it and are more careful.  Snacking is out.  You cannot reach for a few tiny carrots to eat, (Giving up raw veggies, and I have not attempted a greens salad yet, is the worst foods to give up!) or drink a diet soda anytime you want.  So now I really eat a meal, because I know I will be hungry and will have to have a time frame when I can eat and get to the restroom to take a good ten minutes to clean my teeth.  Going out to eat with colleagues a few days ago I did not talk much during the meal!
After almost a week I think I have seen some difference.  I really think I will need a tooth extracted so I am getting my courage up to have that done, which I plan to ask the ortho about at the first adjustment June 23.  Let's just get it done and over with.
So far it has been the mouth full of metal and cleaning that I do not like. I just really hope that, besides teeth being extracted, that this is the extent of any discomfort.  (Hope, but am realistic!!)

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