My First Day in Braces

experiences of ArchWired readers

 Dave from Oregon

I’m pretty impressed by all the positive “First Day” stories. I decided to get braces at the ripe old age of 57 because it would be nice to have straight teeth and one of my best friends is an orthodontist. He wanted to know what the experience felt like (physically and emotionally) for patients so that he could find ways to improve his practice.

I have to say that it is not so much having the braces as getting them that was a source of discomfort for me. My head was way back which restricted my nasal passage and I had trouble breathing with all the apparatus in my mouth. I got braces that are similar to Damon but which don’t stick out as far (called Smart Braces). The procedure that was used to put them on is fairly new and allowed them to glue all the brackets on at once instead of individually. I was also a guinea pig for a new gluing procedure for gold crowns that would allow the bracket to be glued directly on the crown.

The most memorable moment (beyond the breathing discomfort in the chair) of the first day was trying to eat an egg salad sandwich. Whoa! That was a mistake! Egg salad went everywhere but down my throat and it took nearly 15 minutes to clean it out of the wires and brackets. I nearly cried thinking “I can’t do this for two years.” I’m writing this on day 6 and things are going much better. I’ve lost two brackets (attributable to being a guinea pig for my friend’s glue experiment) but I’ve only had minor pain that a few Ibuprofens pretty much handle. My lips are sore. I’ve used a fair amount of wax and ordered a couple of types of lip protectors to try out until I get a callous or two built up. Eating is getting better. My friend assures me that “something” happens in the second or third week and people learn to eat without all the mess. I seem to be progressing toward this without having to repress the gag reflex and swallow everything whole. It would be nice if my mommy was around to mash my food like she did when I was three or four. Cleaning is still a pain but becoming less so.

I’d like to see some weight loss but I’m not sure that will happen – I seem to be pretty innovative at finding food I can eat. It looks like I’m more likely to end up with a lean, mean tongue than a lean, mean body. Oh well – my wife will be happy. One thing that surprised me with braces is discovering how asymmetrical my teeth are in relation to my cheeks. I never noticed that the left side was leaning out and the right side leaning in. All I saw was the crowding in front. I wonder if my face will feel crooked when my teeth are finally straight? That would be weird! The other thing is that it is really hard to smile with braces on (at least so far). I’m kind of proud of the braces – with my iPod and a backward baseball cap I feel pretty young and rebellious. All I need is a piercing or two and a tattoo to be cool (not!). Anyway, it would be nice to smile and show them off. But then my lip catches and I have to peel it back over the brackets.

I guess that was more of a first week story. The moral seems to be that it helps to distract yourself, focus on what you do appreciate (thank God for soup) and imagine how beautiful you will be in your sixties! Also, it is fun to annoy your orthodontist. I am working on becoming his “new worst patient”! Maybe you could add a section on “Fun Ways to Get Even with Your Orthodontist” to this website.

(Editor's note: Ha ha, that would be a fun "tongue-in-cheek" thread for the message board!)

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