My First Day in Braces

experiences of ArchWired readers

 Luke from Tasmania, Australia

I am a 26-year-old who has had braces on for almost one week now.

For as long as I can remember, I have never been happy with the look of my teeth as of the upper spacing. Until I visited my ortho I did not realise that the cause of my spacing was in fact a substantial overbite - but more about that part of the story later.

I started to realise that my bite was dodgy a few year ago as when I became stressed I could not close my molars as by incisors would clash into each other. Of course this would contribute to my stress and make matters worse. I was grinding my teeth like mad during my sleep and the wear marks were becoming very evident. I never actually thought that I would require braces to fix this problem.

In year 9 (I was 14) I was accidentally kneed in the mouth playing aussie rules football for school (by my own teammate!). I was only wearing a cheap $6 mouthguard that was moulded with hot water. All these guards do is make it difficult to breathe and offer no protection for your teeth. Anyway, as a result I needed root canal treatment on my front two uppers and they had moved quite substantially. Pretty traumatic.

One of side effects of root canal is, as the dentists say, discolouration. In other words your teeth may go grey. About 1 1/2 years ago this started to happen so my dentist needed to bleach them. He suggested that if this becomes a constant issue them I should consider crowns, as bleaching is expensive. Ignorantly, I asked that if I was going to spend that much money on crowns could he fix my bite at the same time? Although in the back of my mind I thought it might be the case, I was still shocked when he said I would need braces to fix this kind of issue. He marked down on my records not do any crown work until I saw an orthodontist, and he referred me to one.

I was in denial for a few weeks, convinced that there must be another solution. I read about braces on the internet for a while and just tried to talk myself out of it. I finally made and appointment and went to see the ortho with the optimistic view that he could fix my bite with some device that I would only need to wear overnight. I squeezed myself into his pokey office and sat in the chair. After a few minutes he walked in, looked at my teeth for 3 seconds and said," You have a pretty bad bite. I can fix them with braces" I then tried in vain to get as much information out of him as possible. I told him that I play rugby and would like to postpone the braces until I finish playing. I left the surgery unimpressed with the service and $100 lighter for less than five minutes.

I jumped back on the internet and found this site. I then became aware of the invisalign product. After reading about it, I decided that I was a suitable candidate, now I just had to find an ortho who did it in my state. The invisialign website mentioned only one ortho who trained and was about 4 hours drive away, but I thought that the driving would be worth it. Just to make sure I contacted the invisalign office to ask if anyone was in training near where I live (the states capital). After about three weeks they replied saying no, I would have to drive. On a whim about 2 weeks later I checked their site to see the orthos and found there was in fact one in my city. Not a good start to my invisalign campaign - especially considering I had concluded by this stage that I was an excellent candidate.

I contacted this new ortho and made an appointment. It turns out that this bloke was a local but moved to Sydney to do his training and only recently moved back. I was immediately impressed with the presentation of the practice and staff. I had a couple of appointments with Paul the ortho and found him to be great, streets better than the first guy saw. Paul is only a few years older than me, has had braces himself, can communicate on my level and took the time to get all the information across. He thoroughly analysed my bite and presented me with my options. By this stage he had me convinced that invisalign was in fact not a very good option for me, however I was so comfortable with him that the thought of braces did not seem so bad anymore.

I decided to go for the full appliance with ceramics and a white archwire on the uppers and metal on the lowers. I postponed the banding for a few weeks as I was groomsman as my friends wedding, however I needed to have something happen before the year was out so I could make the maximum claim on my private health. The total cost of the treatment was $4500, but this was split over three calendar years for the health insurance claim. Paul only fitted the minimum amount of brace so that I wouldn't be miserable over Christmas and new year (but maybe he just wanted me out of his practise as I was terribly hung-over from the previous nights work drinks!). I went back a few days after new years to get the rest fitted to my uppers. I was only a little nervous as I had resigned myself to the fact that I needed braces if I wanted a good bite and basically I wanted this. My wife had braces when she was a teenager and spend the entire week telling me how miserable I was going to be with the pain.

The day my braces were going on my Dad rings up to tell me he needs to have an MRI near his jaw to find what they reckon may be an anurysm or tumor. He has had a similar dodgy bite as me, but has done nothing about it and this may have contributed to his problem.

The braces went on with little drama, but there was a point when I though that Paul was trying to push one of teeth to the other side of my mouth with both of his thumbs. The first thing that I noticed was that my lips did not seem big enough anymore! Everything is white or clear, the device is difficult to see when you are further than 3 metres or so most people don't even notice.

I have had them on for six days now and was pretty much use to them after the first three or so. i can already visually notice movement in the teeth. I don't know why everyone is concerned with the pain. There is certainly some there, but maybe I have my childhood with my older brother to thank for my high pain threshold. I like to have a clean mouth so flossing a pain, even with the fancy threaded floss, and food getting caught in the equipment is the only other real issue. There are some spiky bits that rub, but they have not developed into a full ulcer as yet.

Peoples reaction to them have been very different to what I expected. I had this strange idea manifest in my mind that people would think I was a weirdo, but most people just say, "oh you have braces," and that's about it.

My speech has changed a little and I was concerned about this as I spend quite a bit of my working day on the phone. One of my colleagues who works in the same room as me didn't even notice the braces for the entire morning, and just thought I was talking bit strange.

All of my concerns have been answered and found to be ok, except for my first rugby game. I don't know how I am going to go in a full contact sport. Kissing my wife still feels a little funny also. However, I now find it exciting to see my teeth move and relieving to be able to bite.

So that's the story on how I came to have braces. If I were to offer any advice from my short experience so far it would be to shop around, if you have that luxury, to find a good ortho that you are comfortable with. If you think you might want braces to fix things, but are concerned about things - just do it, or at least see a specialist. Don't try and self-diagnose using the internet - you will get it wrong, go see someone. In my case there needed to be some changes in my mind-set before there were any changes in my mouth.

I hope someone finds this interesting or helps them to make a decision regarding orthodontics.

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