I was one of those
unfortunate ones who was unable to get braces as a teenager.
Now at 26, I finally have them and I had no idea what I was
in for! I had the spacers put in two weeks ago in
preparation for my TPA (Transpalatal Arch). On Tuesday,
January 17, 2006, I had my TPA and top braces (ceramic, of
course) with pearl ligatures put on. I chose the pearl
ligatures because I am ADDICTED to coffee and cannot resist
tomato and curry based foods and apparently they resist
stains better than the clear ones (I found that suggestion
from one of the stories on this site, thank you ArchWired).
I will have the bottom braces put on, hopefully, at my next
visit in two months. The TPA will come off a month after
that. I will be in braces for 2 to 2 1/2 years.
The braces have actually not
been that bad. The TPA has been my arch-nemesis! My first night,
my tongue was getting stuck in the TPA whenever I attempted to
talk or eat. It was bleeding and swollen. I called my
orthodontist the next morning and he had me come in to fix it.
Apparently, the side (which has a loop of some kind) was opened
just enough to allow my poor tongue to get shredded to pieces.
The orthodontist took a pair of pliers (or what looked like
pliers) and bent the loops back away from my tongue and closed
the loops as much as he could. I spent five minutes trying to
get my tongue stuck again before I left and it appeared the
problem was fixed.
Once the major tongue-TPA
problem had been fixed, next came the rest of the journey. I
have found that with a TPA, it is near impossible to talk
without sounding like Elmer Fudd. “You wasicawwy wittle wabbit!!”
Food with any kind of solidity is impossible to chew or swallow
for that matter. My first night I thought I would be able to
handle Mac & Cheese. Every time I tried to swallow a noodle, the
noodle would bounce off of the TPA and land back on my tongue. I
got so tired of fighting it, I started to throw the macaroni
into the back of my mouth and swallowed them whole. Since then,
I’ve pretty much subsided on liquids and soft foods (diced
peaches, grits, mashed potatoes, soup, and yogurt). The ortho
says that I should get used to the TPA after about a week. I’m
three full days into it, so I guess I’m halfway there.
One thing I was worried about
was how my coworkers would react. A few of them knew I was
getting them beforehand. I couldn’t keep it a secret; I was too
excited! Since I have the ceramics, most people didn’t really
seem to notice. Well, that is, until I spoke. Who couldn’t
notice the sudden Elmer Fudd impression? Most had some kind of
story about it - “Oh, I remember having braces back in high
school.”, “My wife had them a few years back. Good luck!”, and
Right now I am embarrassed of
the way I sound when I talk, but I can tell it is getting
somewhat better. I have no idea what to do with my lips. It
feels like they don’t cover the braces. My tongue tends to be
sore and tired of it’s little cage by the end of the day. I look
forward to getting out of the weird ‘gappy stage’ as some call
it, though, for me it is more like the weird ‘overlappy stage’.
I look forward to when I can laugh without covering my mouth or
holding back. I look forward to keeping all of my pictures and
not throwing away the ones that show too much of my teeth. I
look forward to not having people look strangely at my mouth as
I speak. So, I have a lot to look forward to and, though my
story so far hasn’t been great, I think this will be well worth