My First Day in Braces

experiences of ArchWired readers

 Debbie from Virginia

I decided to fix my teeth as a 50th birthday present to myself. As with most of us, it was something I've wanted for years but kept procrastinating. I had bad experiences as a child with our family dentist (he didn't believe in Novocain when he filled baby teeth and I can still feel that puff of air today on my exposed nerve when he blew out the debris after drilling).

Since I was considered borderline for braces by that same dentist, I was two of eight children who my parents decided wouldn't get orthodontic treatment. My lower teeth especially were severely overcrowded and as I got older, I began to see a space between my two upper teeth. I had been going to my dentist every 3 months for a deep cleaning and have been told me for years that I needed gum surgery to correct my deep pockets. I had a hard enough time going to the dentist for cleaning so I knew I would never get up the courage for gum surgery. Everyone I know who had it, including my husband, had it done in 4 visits and needed lots of shots of Novocain (I also had a bad experience once when the needle went right into my nerve). I figured the only way I'd have it done was to be put to sleep and have it done all at once.

I could not find a periodontist who did this however (ok, I only tried one). Then, one day a tooth broke under one of my crowns. My dentist sent me to an oral surgeon for extraction. When the oral surgeon walked in the room and smiled at me I noticed he had braces. And he was close to my age! I told him I wanted them but explained about my deep pockets issue and my desire to be put to sleep and have it done all at once. He took a look and told me he could do it for me. That was all I needed to hear. Long story short, the gum surgery was successful. Recovery from it was a breeze. My dentist saw a big improvement in the pocket measurements.

I interviewed 3 orthodontists, including the one who worked on my oral surgeon. One definitely stood out among the others however it took me another year to make the commitment to get braces. I probably still wouldn't have them if it were not for the reminder notes the office would send out. They included a reply letter with several checkboxes asking if I still wanted them to maintain my records, etc. I kept returning them back saying yes and selecting the checkbox that said I would call for an appointment.

Finally I just had it one day and was feeling bold and I added my own checkbox and said they would need to call me because I was too chicken to ever call and schedule an appointment and I gave them my phone number and told them the best time to call. So they called me and set up the appointment and here I am - I got my braces yesterday and I am 51 years old and the grandmother of 3.

My husband said I look cute but I know better. What I can say is I am very proud of myself for this accomplishment. Already today the first person I showed my braces to at work told me he always wanted them himself. I imagine I'll run into a lot of people like this over the next 15-18 months. The best argument I can find for getting braces is I know if I didn't get them I would always look back and regret it. Now I won't have to live with this regret. Good luck!

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