Friday, February 15, 2019

Life after braces

This will most likely be my last post on this blog...although I may pop in from time to time if something comes up. But if nothing happens, then this will (most probably) be my last post here, to tie up my braces journey.

So it's been one week since I've been debraced, and while that was a milestone event in my braces journey, life after braces was, surprisingly, not much different than life during braces. It's definitely great being able to eat food without worrying about food being caught on the wires and brackets, and it's definitely freeing to have the ability to eat basically whatever I want, whenever I want, without having to rush off to the washroom immediately after to pull bits of food from the wires. That's one advantage of nighttime retainer wear--the ability to just eat and drink whatever, whenever, during for much of the day. Another difference is the simplification that is brushing and flossing now, without all the appliance in the way. Flossing is absolutely so much easier and faster without braces--I can floss my teeth so much faster now without having to thread the floss through the wire. I used to suck at flossing (though that could be because of my crooked teeth), but after nearly two years of flossing with braces, regular flossing is a piece of cake now. Granted, flossing underneath the permanent retainer is a bit of a hassle, but I'll take that over flossing with braces anyday.

Speaking of permanent retainers, I'll probably ask to have my top one adjusted on my retainer check appointment in May. The tech placed it just a bit too high--it's so high that I can't floss under it. I literally can't put a floss threader in between my teeth for my top social six...and my gums on the top arch by the canines have been bleeding with brushing. I know flossing would help...but I can't floss the gums due to the retainer....which is a bit problematic. Right now I'm just doing really good brushing and hopefully it'll be worth something.

Retainers....well, I still lisp with them in, and they make my lips and mouth so dry when I wake up in the morning with them in, but otherwise they're much, much easier to deal with than braces. Although I have noticed that my top right first premolar sitting a bit uncomfortably after taking off the retainer and getting better during the day...on days that it happens. It doesn't happen everyday, and it comes and goes. I wonder if that's just my bite settling itself. My retainers still fit perfectly, and it's not tight when I put it on every night, so that's a plus. I don't really like having plastic in my mouth, but if that's the price for maintaining straight teeth, then so be it.

It's different having straight teeth. I'm still getting used to it myself, and I still catch myself smiling in the mirrors, just to admire my new teeth. I'm learning to smile to accommodate my new chompers. It's a nice kind of different though. Though I do notice that my top arch has a slight cant to the left, and my midline is slanted and isn't actually in the middle. I don't know if I've always had that, as it's difficult to compare my current smile with my old smile, or if it's something that got unmasked as my teeth straightened...but either way, there is a slight left cant to my smile. It's not terribly noticeable, and it's probably only really noticeable by me. As I've said, a perfect Hollywood smile wasn't my aim, and I'll take straight teeth with a slightly canted smile than my old smile. Beside, if Tom Cruise can still win awards and charm Hollywood with his entire top arch shifted to the left by one entire tooth, I'm sure my slightly canted smile will be just fine.

All in all, very pleased with my results, and here's to hoping I never have to be in braces again!

Friday, February 8, 2019

....and they're off!

673 days ago, I started my braces journey, and today marks the end of a phase of that journey. It still feels a bit surreal that they're off, and that braces will be nothing more than a distant memory, and I definitely do, in a weird way, miss having braces, but all in all, what a journey it's been. Some ups (seeing all those changes was a highlight), some downs (feeling said changes, and the procedures done to manipulate teeth into those changes were not so fun), some detours and turns, but finally, I ended up where I needed to be, and today was the big day to get them off.

I'd have to say that braces were definitely a worthwhile investment, but not for the faint of heart. You have to go into braces mentally and physically prepared, and not something one should do on a whim...thought that's more or less what I did. I always wanted straight teeth, and then two years ago, I decided that then was a good time as any to do something about making my teeth straighter, and without really doing much research, I dived head first into the wonderful (and sometimes wacky) world of orthodontia. Heck, I didn't even do more than one consult. I went with the one that my dental office referred me to, and 22 months later, here I am. I definitely would recommend doing research if one is considering undergoing orthodontia, and it is probably more beneficial to go to more than one consult before deciding on an orthodontist and a treatment plan. I got lucky as everything worked out just fine, and I liked my orthodontist and the office staff. I've had no issues with my treatment whatsoever, and the staff were great at answering my questions, as was the orthodontist in explaining things when I asked. My estimate was 18-24 months, and I got them off just a day over the 22 month mark, and my result was pretty much what I wanted and then some, so I genuinely have no complaints. I know some people aren't as lucky as me, so I am grateful that things worked out beautifully for me.

Now onto today's removal appointment...

The appointment started off bright and early at 0840 in the morning (I really am not a morning person, but the only other slot they had for removal today was 0730, and no way was I waking up that early.) Even though the receptionist told me that the office was running on time today, I wasn't called in until 0900. So I'm pretty sure they weren't running on time. Maybe not running late, but definitely not on time. Got seated in the chair, and after I confirmed with the tech that I was, indeed, happy with everything and did not want any more tweaks and changes, the orthodontist came over to check on my teeth and bite one last time. He declared me good for debracing! So this was it, and there was no going back.

The tech put in the permanent retainers first before complete removal of the brackets. She loosened the brackets of my upper and lower front four teeth (I think. It might have been canine to canine, I wasn't sure), and cemented the permanent retainer on the lingual side of my "social six" teeth on both arches. The placement process seemed pretty involved, and if I had to guess, it probably took a good 10-15 minutes to apply both upper and lower permanent retainer. The glue solution tasted horrible as I accidentally let my tongue touch the glue. Would definitely not recommend. Then once the permanent retainers were in, it was time to removal the brackets.

The tech didn't take out the archwire or powerchains prior to removing the brackets. She removed the brackets with the archwire and powerchains intact.. It looked pretty cool when she took the whole thing off, and I got to look at what the brackets and archwires and powerchains looked like when they're not being attached to my teeth. Removing the brackets didn't really hurt. It was uncomfortable, but it didn't hurt..more like a pinch to the teeth when the brackets were pried off. I went in without taking any pain meds, and it went just fine. The tech did a good job in prying all the brackets off. Most went off easily, though one ceramic bracket broke and she had a bit of a trouble removing all of it (the orthodontist ended up polishing the rest of that bracket off at the end). Then she polished the glue/cement off....and weirdly enough, my upper left canine hurts like a mofo when she used the polishing thing instead of the that was really weird. After all the polishing was done, I was told to brush my teeth by the sink.

That first brushing was weird. It was weird seeing my own teeth without any braces. And yes, what people say about your teeth looking "bigger" after braces seems to be true. My teeth looks bigger (especially my top arch), even though I know that's not actually possible. Maybe I just got used to seeing them being covered with braces, and only seeing a small portion of my teeth through the brackets and archwires. It was so nice to be able to brush without the brackets and wires in the way. I almost didn't know how to brush without all the orthodontic appliances in the way!

X-Rays and photos were taken, and then the orthodontist came by to reshape one my bottom central incisor, as I had requested for that when he came to inspect my teeth. After that was done, impressions for retainers were made, and I got sent to brush my teeth again before going to the waiting room to wait while my retainers were being made. I waited about an hour before my name was called again to pick up my retainers. The retainers are the clear kind, and the tech had me try them on, and gave me instructions on how often to wear the retainers, how to take care of them, and general information on the use of retainers. I also got a goodie bag from them, which basically was a T shirt and a water bottle. After making my retainer check appointment and confirming that I would be getting whitening done at that appointment, I was free.

All that took about 3 hours, so I do understand why they made removal an early morning slot thing. But still, it was too damn early for me. But I guess for braces removal, it was definitely worth it!

For the removal retainers, the official instructions I got was to wear them nightly every day for the first year, then every other night, and gradually transition to two to three nights a week. I am not actually going to follow the official instructions that I was given. I'm going to wear my retainers basically whenever I'm home for longer stretches of time. I won't wear them to work or out, because talking with them in is a lisp fest, and I have no intentions of lisping when I don't need to, but I will definitely wear them more than the 8-12 hours a night thing that I'm advised to do. I just spent close to $3800 on straightening my teeth and correcting my bite...I'm going to retain my teeth the best way that I can.

Retainers....well they're definitely different than braces. I don't know if I necessarily like them, but I'm sure I'll get used to them. I can't talk properly with them in, and they just feel bulky in my a different way than braces felt. My teeth don't touch each other while in retainers, and that feels a bit weird. It's a bit like having bite blocks again. Putting them on is fairly easy, and I'm working on getting the removal down pat. It's a work in progress, but it's only my first real day with them, so I'm sure they'll get better. But all in all, retainers are working out okay so far. Too early to tell right now, but as all things orthodontia, I too, will get used to retainers.

It feels weird without braces on, and it feels odd to be able to eat whatever I want with no repercussion. I don't need to special prepare food in a way to accommodate for the braces, and I don't need to make a trip to the bathroom to clean my teeth after every meal. It's weird knowing that it's impossible for food to get stuck on my teeth now, whereas before, I knew that no matter how careful I am, food will get stuck on the wire and brackets, and swishing with water and cleaning was a must after eating.

But I am officially braces free now, and that's an achievement of a milestone of sort.

Before. Just looking at this made me realize how far I've come, and just how many changes happened to make my teeth and bite the way they are today
After 22 months of braces. My new smile! Everything looks much, much better than before. It's no Hollywood perfect smile, but it's perfect enough for me.

Bye bye elastics! No more ever again!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Week 93, 94

...and I'm officially two weeks from being braces free! My, how fast have time flown just two weeks, I'd be debraced, and starting the next part of my braces journey (retainers). Now that I'm so close to having the braces off, I'm feeling a little antsy. I just want them off now! Not two weeks later! But, I've survived this long with them already, another two weeks isn't really much of anything. Beside, the two weeks will go by fast, and before I know it, it'd be debracing day. I'm looking forward to the entire procedure--the bracket and glue removal, permanent retainers application, making molds for retainers, and being fitted for said retainers. And of course, my first dental cleaning without the braces in the way! It's gonna be a long day on Feb 8, but it will be all worth it. Plus, I'm celebrating with eating dinner out that night, so it'll be nice little end to my journey with braces.

No updates, because there isn't much to update. I'm literally just waiting to get the braces off, and my teeth looks and feels fine. Bite's wonderful, feels comfortable, and I've had no issues with my bite. No issues with my teeth. Just the usual frustrations with elastics, but even that is mitigated by the knowledge that I won't have to deal with them again in two weeks time. My braces aren't really acting as braces now anyway; they're just retaining my teeth in their current formation until braces are off.

So here's my list of things that I've learned with braces:

1) 100% worth it to do it. That's not to say that it will be easy, smooth sailing, or straight forward. But it is worth doing. I joke about my teeth being a $3700 smile, but in all seriousness, braces are absolutely worth it. The improvement in aesthetics and bite goes such a long way that I didn't know what I was missing out until during my treatment.

2) Braces will test your patience. With braces you have to relearn how to eat, brush, floss, talk and position your jaws. These can cause frustration (lot's of it too!). It's especially worse in the beginning, when you are just starting out. But all that will dissipate eventually. Your mouth will learn how to maneuver and function with braces in.

3) Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Borrowing this quote, because it captures braces related pain quite accurately. There will be pain with moving teeth (you're moving teeth through bones! It will hurt!), but the attitude and mindset that you have for the pain will determine how the pain affects you. I didn't really have too much pain throughout, but did take the odd Tylenol whenever I needed it. I didn't let it stop me from doing anything. Not even eating.

4) Speaking of's become an event with braces. You plan for it, and around it with braces on. Sometimes you don't bother because it's too much work. I imagine retainers will be the same.

5) Elastics are the devil. They just are. They're annoying, inconvenient, and frustrating at times. They snap off, they can be difficult to put on, and they add some pain to the treatment. You become a slave to them once you're prescribed to wear them. Posterior box configuration on the molars is the absolute worse (and I'd know. Been wearing them for 11 months now). But wear them religiously, and the results are amazing.

6) Things can get worse before they get better. Everything in braces is interim, so things can and do look way worse before they get better. Teeth don't always look align and straight throughout the journey and that's okay. As long as the teeth are where they need to be by debracing day, it's fine. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

7) You will develop better hygiene. It's just an inevitable side effect of having braces, really. One that I'm sure will make my dentist very happy about.

8) You're the only one who really cares about and obsess over your own teeth and braces. Well, and maybe your orthodontist too. But generally, nobody cares that you're in braces. Nobody.

Week 93
Week 94

Friday, January 11, 2019

Week 91, 92, and Month 21

You know, I still have a hard time knowing that I'm in my last ever month of braces. In fact, by this time in 28 days, I would've had my braces off already, and probably would be en route to my dental clinic for a routine cleaning. I re-scheduled my next teeth cleaning to coincide with my debracing date--I figured I might as well as get my teeth professionally cleaned the day I get the braces off, new beginnings and all. And what better way to start my post braces life than with clean teeth! That and I bet it'll just feel so good to have the hygienist clean the front of the teeth AND the areas of my lateral incisors that were never cleaned because they were crowded behind my central incisors! Feb 08 is turning out to be a busy day for me, teeth department wise.

I don't think I have any more real updates from here on out. I'm just literally counting down the days til Feb 08, and then I can write all about my experience at debracing and my experience on my first dental cleaning minus the braces. That, and I really don't expect any real changes to occur from this point on. There shouldn't be, anyway. The braces are more or less just keeping the teeth where they need to be for the next four weeks prior to debracing, and at this point, they really are acting more like retainers than braces.

That's not to say I won't update between now and debracing day. I will update, and my next update will be in two weeks time...but I just don't anticipate anything new to write about in between now and debracing day. The next update will be the last update prior to braces removal, so maybe I'll compose a list of things I've learned, and write about that. Of course, I'll have a reflective post of sorts after the braces come off, so that's another post to look forward to.

Week 91
Week 92. The upper left central incisor is level against the upper right central incisor. Evidently the bend in the wire worked. Though honestly, it really is such a minor tweak that I probably woulnd't have cared either way. I'm glad it's done though. The same way I don't care that my lateral incisors are slightly different height. It's so minor that I don't think anyone would notice or care. I certainly don't, for the most part.

Month 21

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

...and just like that, I have a debracng date!

I went to my orthodontist appointment today, and it turned out that it was my second to last "regular" appointment with the office today. I am now officially in the last 30 days of my braces journey, and my debracinging date is set for Feb 08! Funnily, it would've been Feb 07, which would make it exactly 22 months...but alas, I have some work obligations that day that I can't reschedule, so alas, it was not meant to be. So all in all, by the time I debrace, I would've been in braces for 22 months and 1 day (well, not really a full day. My appointment is bright and early at 0840, but still.). And what a journey it's been.

And with that, I can now say that I'm in the final stretch of the process, which feels really damn good. Though now that I have an actual debracing date, I can't wait for the next 29 days to just fly by, so that I can go to my debracing appointment and get the braces off! Antsy isn't the word I'd use to describe what I'm feeling now, though I anticipate that I would feel more antsy closer to the date. Eager anticipation is a more apt descriptor right now.

My appointment today was really short and sweet. The orthodontist that I see wasn't there today, so another orthodontist who also works at the office covered for him. The tech that I had seemed to be relatively new at her job--she wasn't bad at what she was doing, and she didn't do anything wrong that I noticed. She was just slow, that's all. But there's no crimes to doing things slowly and surely. The tech took off the powerchains and wires, and then waited for the orthodontist to come and do his assessment. The main thing for today's agenda was to evaluate for debracing.The orthodontist had me bite down a few times, looked at my teeth, had me bite down a few more times, and declared that I was good for debracing for next appointment. He did put a bend in the wire by my upper midline, to bring up one of my central incisors a bit, to match with the other one. I honestly can't remember which, I think it's the left, but it's so insignificant that had he not mentioned it, I probably wouldn't've cared enough to do anything about it. But hey, since he insisted, I'm not going to say no. I am also to continue with my nightly elastics routine, which I expected. I did ask if I can stop the elastics, but I didn't think I'd be granted that. No harm in asking though! But at this point, you can ask me to do anything with my braces, and I'd probably say yes. I mean, I can do keep up and maintain any routine for the next 30 days if it means braces comes off right after.

I asked the tech for more details about the next appointment--what will happen, what to expect, and the length of the appointment. She told me that it was actually two appointments--one for the actual debracing, and one to pick up the retainers. The debracing bit will be about one hour in length, and it will consist of physically removing the braces--removing the wires, powerchains, and of course, the brackets. The remaining glue will be polished off. I will be fitted with a permanent retainer for both arches, so one for top and bottom, and impressions for retainers will be made. Also, photos and XRays will be taken. Then I will come back to pick up the retainers, though I don't think I'll leave the office waiting room during that time. My debracing appointment is at 0840, and they've got me picking up the retainers at 1030. Assuming the debracing takes one hour, I'll just hang out in the waiting room for 45 minutes or so. It just seems rather pointless to go anywhere during that time. And then after all that, I'll be done!

Well not done done, but I won't have another braces adjustment appointment ever again. It'll just be retainer checks for the next 12 months, and that'll be that when it's done. And yes, I've already planned for dinner out to celebrate on that day!'s to the next 30 days going by fast!

These puppies are going off in 30 days. By this time next month, I'd be braces free and onto retainers!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Week 89 and 90

...and with the blink of an eye, this will be my last blog entry for 2018. Can't believe that an entire year has gone by already...time sure goes by fast whether or not fun is to be had. And with that, one full year of braces have flown on by.

Obviously, my new year "resolution" of getting my braces off this year didn't pan out. But then again, that's not something that I have any control over. It was wishful thinking on my part that these braces would come off this year. But...unless something goes horribly wrong between now and my next orthodontist appointment on Jan 9, I'm pretty sure that I'll getting molds done then. If not then, the next appointment. Which means, I'm really damn close to getting these things off. My teeth aren't Hollywood smile perfect, but I didn't expect them to be. A Hollywood picture perfect smile wasn't my goals or intentions when I decided to get braces. My goal, as it was, was to straighten out my teeth. I wasn't even looking to improve my bite, but that came as a nice "side effect", if you will, of my goal. Now with my bite improved, I don't know why I didn't think it wasn't a goal of mine. My bite is so much more comfortable now, and it just feels better.

I'm literally in the finishing stage of braces, so there's really not much I can say about my teeth. My bite feels good. The top right premolar stopped touching my bottom teeth uncomfortably, all my gaps are closed, and I really don't see anything that can improved. My top right lateral incisor moved out some, due to the bend in the wire that my orthodontist put in last time, but it's not really anything major. And the only reason I know it moved is because it was quite painful after my last appointment. I do hope that my gums will sort itself out--there's a "flap" of my gum that's just hanging between my upper right central and lateral incisor, and it's kind of bugging me. It doesn't hurt or anything. It's just....sitting there. It's been there since I first got IPR done...but then again, this is also where the IPR gap took forever to close, so that could be the reason for the gum flap. It's not a big deal, and I'm sure I can ask to get it lasered off or something at my dentist, but it's just a minor thing that's there. Other than that, night time elastics as per usual, and waiting til my next orthodontist appointment.

My "resolution" for 2019 is to get the braces off, and to be diligent with retainer use once the braces are off....Happy New Year!

Week 89
Week 90

Friday, December 14, 2018

Week 87, 88 and Month 20

I can't believe that a) it's nearly Christmas time again b) I've had these braces on for twenty months already and c) another year is just about to start. Where has the time gone? I've got no idea. It really only felt like yesterday that I got the braces installed. And yet here we are, 20 months later.

So you know how I've been talking about feeling the upper right pre molar touching my lower right canine and it's not the most comfortable thing ever? Well, I'm not sure what, but some voodoo braces magic happened, and that tooth is now not touching my lower right canine in an uncomfortable manner. It kind of just...sits there, and it doesn't bother me like it used to. My bite feels fine. So I guess I won't need to bring this issue back up to the orthodontist next time. I'm guessing that with the torque that the orthodontist put in the wire must have shifted that tooth a bit too, even though the the bend was for moving my upper right lateral incisor out a bit. But whatever! I'm not complaining.

With that issue set aside, I think that if things go the way they are, steady and stable, and if the orthodontist have no more tweaks and imperfections that he wants to work on, I may actually be getting a mold done on my next appointment. Which means, debracing day really isn't that far away. I aim to have these off by the two year I'm hoping that we're still on schedule!

Happy holidays everyone!

Week 87/ Month 20

Week 88

Life after braces