All Smiles

I can hardly believe it, but it’s true. After years of toil, trouble, and pretty much constant tooth soreness, I am officially done with my braces!

Some of you may remember that back in February 2014, I got lingual braces behind my top teeth. I got them removed a little over a year later, and then, because I just have to do everything as inefficiently as possible, a couple months later I started Invisalign.

My bottom teeth were still quite crooked, and I decided that I wasn’t actually as satisfied as I thought I’d be with just a straight top set (this happened right around the same time as Sean’s proposal, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence.) I posted an update on my whole braces journey back in June, so I won’t repeat everything again, but as you can probably guess, I have one final update for you:

 
I’m done!

I had my final Invisalign appointment at Smiles at Fairfax Corner last week, after a year of my initial Invisalign treatment, plus an additional 5 (?) months of adjustment trays. Phew! It sounds like a lot of time, of course, but the reality is that time is going to press on anyway, so why not perfect your smile while you’re at it?

It definitely took much longer than I thought it would, considering how I had already gotten lingual braces on top, but that just goes to show that you really should just take care of your top + bottom teeth at the same time. A lot of the reason that my Invisalign treatment took so long was to correct my bite — which may or may not have gotten more out of whack due to my linguals-on-top-only. It’s hard to say.

Regardless, I’m thrilled to be able to finally say I am D-O-N-E. No more switching out aligners. No more attachments on my teeth. And you better believe I will be wearing my retainer every night until the day I die. I’m not letting these puppies backslide the way I did in college! Putting your own money into your smile really makes you value that retainer, I tell you what.

I may end up getting a permanent retainer (a wire glued to the back of my teeth) if it’s deemed necessary in the future, but for right now, I’m just going to relish not having anything permanently attached to my chompers. If you have any questions about either Invisalign OR lingual braces, I’m happy to answer them! Because I can! Because I’M DONEEEEEEE!!

Lingual Braces: 1 Year Later

Yesterday, I went to the orthodontist. In case you had forgotten (as I often do), my mouth is secretly full of metal.

I have lingual braces on my upper teeth, which has slowly been straightening my smile over the past year.

teeth update

Though you may remember me reporting being in a lot of pain during the first week of having these puppies in, in the months since my last update it’s honestly like I’ve forgotten that they’re even there. Other than a bit of pain/soreness for a day or two when I get them adjusted, and the fact that food does get stuck back there pretty easily, they really are relatively forgettable. And don’t worry, that lisp I carried around for the first couple of weeks is looooong gone!

Unfortunately, while my original estimate from the orthodontist put me at being braces-free by the one-year mark, I experienced a little setback about a month ago. For some reason, my front teeth started making backwards progress, with the overlap between my front two teeth become more prominent and the unevenness between the teeth becoming more pronounced.

FullSizeRender (1) FullSizeRender

I’m not sure if you can tell in the above pictures, but take my word for it. It was not fun to see my teeth were backsliding into crookedville. Luckily, my teeth were able to be pulled back into place with just one correctional visit. Unluckily, that still means it took an entire adjustment just to get back to where I was (I get them adjusted every 4 – 6 weeks). So that little setback means that I’m still a (secret) braceface, and tacked on at least a couple more months to my overall braces tally.

But, hey, I paid like four grand for these stupid metal brackets, so they can take as loooooong as they need to make things right!

January 28, 2014

IMG_9830.JPG IMG_9831.JPG
January 15, 2015
After my braces do finally come out, I’ll be getting a permanent retainer put in, which will be a single wire glued to the back of my teeth to keep them in place. I’ll still need to use a regular retainer as well, but the permanent one should help ensure that everything stays in place. I won’t be making the mistake of letting my teeth backslide this time! Having braces twice in your life is MORE than enough (especially when you’re the one who has to pay for it the second time, hahaha.)

I’d actually been recently considering starting work on my bottom teeth, via either lingual braces or Invisalign. Ultimately, though, I decided that there are other things I should be saving my money for right now. And since I primarily only show my top teeth when I smile, hopefully it won’t bug me too much that only half my mouth is celebrity-straight, haha.

Even with the associated cost, I will probably say that, second to me getting LASIK, getting braces is probably the best money I could’ve spent on myself. (LASIK is HANDS-DOWN the best thing I ever did for myself, without a doubt, but straight teeth is good too, haha.) I am that much more confident in my smile, I feel that much more beautiful, and definitely feel it money well-spent.

Have you ever considered anything like braces, LASIK, or anything else along those lines? If so, what’s preventing you from pulling the trigger?

Lingual Braces: Four Months In

Hi folks!

So I figured it might be interesting for those of you who are in any way, shape, or form invested in the state of my teeth (so… really just interesting for me, then) to get a little update on how the whole lingual braces thing is going! Fair warning, you’re about to see lots of up-close-and-personal photos of my mug, haha.

For reference’s sake, feel free to click back for a refresher on how I was feeling during Week 1 (hint: it wasn’t good) and Weeks 2 & 3 (MUCH better).


January 28, 2014, the day I got my braces
 


March 27, 2014
I had my 3rd adjustment last week, and I definitely feel as though I’m seeing a serious difference in my teeth. The right side of my upper teeth in particular seem almost completely straight to me, which is awesome. The slight overlap between my two front teeth is also straightened out, though my left front tooth still protrudes juuuuuust slightly.


Day 1 vs. today! (Whitening will come later, hahaha!)
The left side of my teeth have also improved, but since that was much worse to begin with, it’s still got a bit of a ways to go. The difference between my left canine and the tooth next to it (what I used to UNaffectionately refer to as my shadow tooth, since if the light hit me wrong I sometimes looked toothless ahahahhha) is much diminished, though still not straight.

As for the extreme tongue discomfort that I experienced in the beginning, it’s pretty much a non-issue at this point. I don’t use wax anymore, and it doesn’t hurt at all. At my adjustment last week, they clipped the wire that was extending past my actual brackets, which has been causing a smidge of annoyance because my tongue is getting used to the feeling of the clipped end of the wire now, but it’ll be good in the long run because I was getting food stuck on the wire ALL the time.

Adjustments are still a huge pain — literally — because I pretty much can’t eat anything solid for the two days following, but otherwise I’m definitely getting used to that too. Once the pain subsides, I’ve found that I can eat most things, though I still follow common sense about what to try my luck on. As long as I don’t mind thoroughly brushing my teeth afterwards, I’ve even found I can eat corn on the cob and stuff like that!

Thankfully, my lisp also pretty much disappeared after the first couple of weeks (or, at least, that’s what people tell me). The lisping does seem to get temporarily worse for about a week following my adjustments, strangely. Maybe because my teeth are so sensitive and my whole mouth just feels a little weird? Meh. As long as it is just temporary, I’m cool with it.

So there you go! My four-month update on the lingual braces front. As far as I know, my predicted length of treatment is still less than a year in total, though I haven’t been told if there’s an exact amount of time left or not. Until then, guess I’ll just keep smiling!

Lingual Braces: Weeks 2 & 3

So after my initial bitching session post about what having my new lingual braces is like, I feel it’s probably time that I update you on how I’m doing with them now.

Not surprisingly, just a few days after I spent like 1000 words complaining about how much my tongue hurt, my teeth hurt, and how miserable I was, things got much, much better. My tongue did indeed get used to the metal and is no longer hurting. My lisping is like 800% better (in my opinion), and really the only thing that still catches me are my S’s. But I’m definitely getting used to it, and some folks tell me that they can’t really notice… though I don’t really believe them, hahaha.

My teeth also have stopped hurting, some of them just still feel loose — which is admittedly a semi-scary feeling, because even though logically I know that my teeth aren’t going to fall out of my head, I had a dream that they did and now it’s like all I can think about. Also, biting into stuff still isn’t as easy as it used to be, though I can eat most things without too much incident (no gum or caramels or biting into apples still though).) It’s just mostly annoying because stuff gets stuck in there really easily – especially rice and stringy things like cooked onions. Also, sandwiches are still a bit of a challenge… which is super sad because I loooove sandwiches. Womp womp.

But all in all, things have really turned around almost 180*, so I am no longer hating the world and regretting this decision. Huzzah! Since it’s only been a couple of weeks I can’t see any kind of difference yet, but hopefully when I go back to the ortho in a couple of weeks he’ll have an estimate of how long it’ll really take to get my chompers nice and straight — since the only timeline I’ve been given so far is the very specific prediction of “probably less than a year.”

I have my first wire adjustment the second week of March, so I’ll be back to update you again on how things are feeling after that!

Lingual Braces: Week 1

Since today marks the 7th day of the self-imposed torture that is lingual braces, I figured it would be fitting to give you guys an update. Knowledge being power and all that. Beware: an uncomfortable number of uncomfortable-looking selfies is about to follow.

Procedure: The actual process of getting the brackets attached was very straight forward. No drilling, no grinding, just my mouth being propped open (more comfortable than it looks, actually!) while a dental prodded around in there to clean and prepare my teeth for bonding, and then the orthodontist coming in to attach each individual bracket (I have 8 total) and insert the wire. There was some gel stuff that tasted horrible, and some UV light wand stuff, but it wasn’t painful or even that uncomfortable. It was fast, too — I think the total amount of time I spent at the orthodontist’s was 1 hour and 15 minutes, and that included talking to the orthodontist for a while and getting new photos and x-rays taken of my teeth.

Aesthetics: As you can see from the photo above, in which I’m rocking my colors for the big game — the Puppy Bowl, of course — my braces are virtually undetectable. In fact, the only way you’d be able to see them is if you were looking up at an angle, into my mouth.

Or if I was eating a hand-mirror.

In fact, you’re more likely to see the fillings in my back molars than you are to see my braces. Which is great, because obviously the aesthetic factor is the entire reason I chose this method of tooth straightening… and is pretty much the only good thing about them so far, because unfortunately it’s all downhill from here.

Speaking: Speaking is a total bitch. There, I said it. I knew that I would likely have some kind of lisp or impeded speech when the braces were inserted, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it is. In fact, when I first got the braces put in, my lisp really wasn’t that bad, but it worsened by about 500% the next day. I think this is because my tongue got irritated after the first day, swelling up slightly, getting cut up, and it just hasn’t gone back to normal yet. So my lisp is exacerbated by the fact, in addition to the metal brackets taking up space behind my teeth, my tongue feels bigger and my mouth feels simultaneously dry AND producing more saliva than normal.

Every article I’ve read, video I’ve watched, and forum I’ve browsed says that speaking will get better, and my lisp will let up as I get used to the braces, but right now I have to admit that it feels like that will never happen. I’m super self-conscious about how I sound, and it sucks, especially when you talk as frequently and emphatically as I do.

Pain: Immediately after the braces went on, I felt a little pressure on my teeth but I wouldn’t say it hurt. In fact, the entire first day I was basking in my clearly superior pain tolerance and how easy this was going to be. Of course, I ended up eating my words (since I can’t eat much else) the very next morning, because as soon as I woke up my gums (and head) were throbbing. The pain of my actual teeth moving, however, is fairly manageable because ibuprofen works pretty well against it. You know what ibuprofen doesn’t work too well against though? Tongue pain.

Ugh, the tongue pain. For some reason it did not occur to me in the slightest that my tongue would get irritated — actually, I think pissed off is a more accurate term — from having all this metal imposed into its space. I thought about the tooth pain — pain I’ve experienced before from my teenage battle with braces — and knew I’d be able to handle that, but I never considered the tongue part. IT HURTS. My tongue basically has cuts all down the sides from where it rubs up against the write that is poking out from the last brackets. It doesn’t actually hurt on the tip of my tongue, where it touches the brackets on my front teeth, but hot damn, the side/back of my tongue is KILLING me. And to make matters worse, I’ve developed a canker sore/tongue ulcer/hot white spot of DEATH on the underside of my tongue, which hurts so much that touching it actually makes me cry. It hurt so much Saturday night that I could barely sleep (I picked up some Orajel to numb it, but unfortunately that stuff only works for like, 10 minutes at a time. And it tastes awful and it makes my throat feel weird and numb when I swallow it.)

So unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do except pray that, just like how I got blisters on my fingers when I taught myself how to play the guitar, eventually my tongue will develop some kind of callus or otherwise adapt. And pray that it will happen SOON. I have wax that I can put over the wires and brackets to help a little bit (you can kind of see it in the mirror pic above), but a lot of damage was already done by the time I started using it, so even with the wax it still hurts when anything comes in contact with the raw part of my tongue… which it does every time I swallow, or speak, or chew, or do anything really. This is the primary reason why it’s been a torturous experience thus far.

Eating: Well, I suppose you could see this as a good thing or a bad thing, because, yes, eating has definitely changed for me. The first couple of days, biting down was quite painful — in fact, anything touching my teeth pretty much sucked. So I could eat soft, easily-swallowable stuff (soups, stew, applesauce, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, mussels, etc.) and *kind of* chew it (since I don’t have brackets on my back teeth), but biting into anything with my front teeth was (and still kind of is) out of the question. Mostly I found myself “chewing” with my tongue — by pushing the soft stuff up onto the roof of my mouth with my tongue. Unfortunately, this caused more irritation to my tongue because it meant even more contact with the pokey wires.

As my teeth themselves don’t hurt quite as much now, I’ve found I can bite things a little more easily — though, of course, I then risk getting food stuck in my braces. I’ve successfully eaten pasta, a muffin, a chicken wing, and even like two bites of a burger before I just decided to fork-and-knife it. Chewing with my back teeth isn’t too bad, except for the aforementioned tongue-rubbing… I guess I don’t really need to go on. The basic point is we use our tongue for everything, and having it be all busted up is awful in many ways. I also eat INCREDIBLY slowly, which I guess is the good part, because I get full more easily and am obviously (as evidenced by my calorie counts from last week) eating a lot less. I guess it’s also good/bad that I’m brushing my teeth 8329429489 times a day now (after every single meal, snack, non-water beverage, and sometimes just because my teeth/tongue feel nasty) so I should have the cleanest and whitest teeth in the world by the time this is over.

Other thoughts: As you already know, I decided to only get braces on my top teeth, feeling that my top teeth are what bothered me because they are so visible, and thinking there wasn’t too much wrong with my bottom teeth. HOWEVER, my orthodontist felt quite differently. He was, in fact, very clear to point out all the ways that my bite sucks, my teeth as a whole are jacked, and warned me several times about how fixing my top teeth would do nothing to align my bite or fix all the things that are wrong with my teeth. (Judgy much?) So, unfortunately, that consultation only served to highlight how le terrible my bottom teeth are, when I didn’t really have a problem with them before.

Of course, aside from the whole aesthetic thing, there’s also the fact that opting to only work on my top teeth is much, MUCH less expensive than an entire mouthful of braces. Alas, though, all this time spent looking at my mouth and teeth is making me SO aware of my bottom teeth crowding and my bite… I dunno. I may look at getting them fixed at some point in the future as well. It’s not really helping that for some reason, on days 5 + 6 my bottom teeth started hurting a little bit too — even though there’s no braces on them! I wonder if it’s like, teeth sympathy pain, or if it’s because my bite as a whole is being shifted ever so slightly. I’ve heard it’s pretty popular for people to get traditional braces on the bottom since they aren’t so readily visible, but I’m unsure. Guess that’s a bridge I’ll cross if/when I come to it.

At this point in time, I’d be lying if I said it’s been worth it. This experience has been way more painful than I anticipated, I think I sound awful when I speak, and while I can already tell it’s working (my teeth aren’t straight yet or anything, of course, but one has already moved enough so that one of my bottom teeth doesn’t touch one of the brackets anymore when I clench my teeth, which it did when they were first applied), I’m just generally miserable. I know I did this to myself, so I really shouldn’t complain, but believe me when I say that you would be complaining too. The thought has already occurred to me more than once to just throw in the towel and call it quits, although the fact that I probably wouldn’t get my $1,000 down payment back is a big influencing factor in attempting to stick it out.

After all, it’s only been a week, and they all say it gets better, so it has to, right? RIGHT?!