I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you are never too old for braces!
In my last post, I explained why I decided to get braces at a point in my life when I should be making decisions about retirement. Since I never had orthodontic treatment as a teenager, I really had no idea of what I would experience as a patient. I want to share my “start appointment” observations with you in this post.
If you had braces more than 5 years ago, you will recall that the first step in treatment was to take start models or in other words “impressions”. Impressions involve arch-shaped trays of “goop” that form around your teeth and must remain in place for a minute or two. If you’re a gagger, these impressions can be difficult and to be honest, the thought of taking impressions probably kept me from having braces earlier. Fortunately, in the age of technology, we have the ability to take scans of your teeth with an intra-oral camera to create a digital model for the start records. Yah-rah! I didn’t need impressions!!!
Once my scan was completed, I had separators placed between my molars. I have several dental crowns and orthodontic brackets don’t adhere well to crowns; as a result those teeth needed to be banded (see picture below). The separators are very small elastic loops that are put in place for 1 to 2 weeks to create the room for the metal bands. I had a total of 8 separators and immediately could feel the pressure between my molars. Shortly after my separators were put in place, I went out for lunch. I had an ortho-compliant lunch of a hamburger and salad; but the grinding action of the molars caused one of my separators to break. Over the next several days, I broke several more and learned the importance of soft foods and chewing with my front teeth while I had the separators.
Within the next week, there was enough space in between my molars to place those bands. For a proper fit, you need the smallest band possible that will still slide down over the molars, so it’s a process of trial and error. The process also includes patient participation to help bite the bands into place. Once the clinic tech has determined the best fitting band and you’ve “bit” it into place, they have to remove the band in order to apply adhesive and then you bite it into place again. At the same appointment, orthodontic brackets were placed on my other teeth (clear ones on the top and metal on the bottom) and I got 2 wires in my upper brackets and just 1 wire in the lower. As soon as several teeth in the lower arch start moving into place, I’ll be able to get a second wire there as well.
There’s some icky tastes involved in this process and an extended period with your mouth held open, but I was surprised to say “no pain.” Even though there was “no pain”, there was some discomfort when I ate and an immediate need to change my food preferences. Soft foods…pulled pork, mashed cauliflower, and smoothies became regulars on my menu. It was difficult to grind with my molars; don’t even think about trying pork chops or steak. I’m glad to say that in less than a week the discomfort subsided and I was able to return some “harder” foods to my diet, especially if they were cut in small pieces.
With my braces in place, I started to document my progress on a daily basis. (If someone were to find my phone and look at the pictures, they’d surely wonder) It’s kind of like starting a diet and you step on the scales every day hoping to see 10 pounds melt away; I’ve learned that the small changes are more visible when you look at them on a weekly basis. Let me just say, my teeth are moving!!!
In my next post, I’ll share some of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned very quickly. Just remember, you’re never too old to have the genuine smile you’ve always dreamed about. Contact our office to start your journey.