My Experience with Braces: Before, During, & After

by - February 18, 2019

I am soooo happy to say I am all done with my braces 😁 It went way differently than I anticipated - I was quoted 10 months because my teeth didn't need much fixing, but I ended up having them on just shy of two years - 22 months to be exact! It turns out, my teeth were SUPER stubborn and took so long to move. I made this a longer post, and I also included embarrassing photos (that aren't very good!), haha! But I wanted to give you a real review.

I got braces because it was my last chance for orthodontic treatment while I was still under my dad's insurance. Once I turned 26, no more before it was too late, I used up my benefit. The process for getting ortho approval was quite lengthy, at least with our insurance. It took almost a whole year before I was able to have the braces put on - they required lots and lots of evidence to prove that I needed braces, not just for cosmetic reasons, before they agreed to cover them. I think I had to send in 5 or 6 different X-Rays and molds from different dentists, surgeons, etc., and they took forever to accept each one.

Taken the day before treatment began
I opted for traditional metal braces because I was not self-conscious about them at all. I could've done clear ones or Invisalign, but those are more high maintenance and I wasn't in the mood to deal with that honestly! To start the process, my dentist put spacers in a day or two before I had the braces put on. They were the most painful part of the whole process!! I heard others say they weren't bothered by them.....not in my case. They're hard, stiff little rubber bands that are wedged in between your back teeth to make space for the braces, and they really dug into my gums and made me go crazy. The next most painful things were the bands - they're "anchors" that go around your back teeth to plant the braces in place. They were extremely tight and caused immense pressure that was very noticeable for the first two weeks.

First day with spacers - you can see one of them (it's blue!)
My mouth had a hard time adjusting to all the metal hardware, especially the parts that were sharper. I formed a lot of blisters inside my cheeks / gum-line (sorry if this is TMI), and I went through tons of wax (which really did help). In the first 5-6 months, I broke 5 brackets. That's something you want to try and avoid, because it means another trip to the dentist to get the bracket replaced & a fee for the replacement. Luckily, my dentist covered the first 3, but I think it was $30 per bracket after that. You have to learn how to chew in a more gentle way so as to not pop the brackets off your teeth, which is difficult because your eating habits are mostly inadvertent. You basically have to re-train your mouth. After about 6 months, I adjusted and never broke another bracket.

3 months into treatment
During the treatment process, I had monthly tightenings at the dentist. I got my wires replaced, either with the same one or thicker one, depending on my progress. By one year of treatment, I was very used to the braces. I only experienced discomfort in the days following each tightening or if I formed a blister from a ligature. Just FYI - ligatures are basically wire knots that the dentist applies to a bracket to gauge a tooth in a certain direction. My dentist had to put several on me over the course of treatment, because he had to control which way some teeth moved if they were in the wrong direction. Those were super annoying and caused me lots of blisters, but they did move my teeth well.

I also had chains put on, which are very thick, tiny rubber band chains that are pulled really tight across all your teeth. They bring your teeth together & make them super tight! I formed a gap in my front teeth at some point, and the chains completely closed that gap. I only had the chains for a couple of months....the dentist took them off/put them on a couple of times to make sure my teeth could sustain the tightness on their own.

A photo of my chains 
6 months into treatment
17 months into treatment
The last 3-4 months of my treatment were all about fine-tuning. My teeth were about 95% done, but there was still room for improvement. A couple of teeth still needed help shifting. My dentist focused on getting each tooth as perfectly positioned as possible. The last couple of months were actually spent only working on 2 or 3 teeth while the others were already perfectly straight. Once he got all of my teeth as good as they could possibly get, he took the braces off!

Seconds before they were taken last photo with braces!
Seconds after they were taken off....not my best picture! I was in shock! Hahah
As for retainers, I had 3 options: plastic, metal, or bonded. The plastic ones were included in my treatment, AKA free. However - these are not good for long-term. They don't last long, they get discolored (plastic stains easily), and they don't keep your teeth in place as well. Bonded retainers are permanent wires that are glued to the back of your teeth. I highly considered this option because it meant I would never have to take retainers in & out, worry about losing them, etc. - but I decided against them because I didn't want something on my teeth that I couldn't remove. I got metal retainers, which are pricey, but they're removable and will keep my teeth in place.

The last thing I wanted to talk about is my post-braces situation. I tried my best to keep my teeth clean during treatment - the Waterpik saved my life!! If you don't have one, you need to invest in one. They really aren't too expensive, and they clean your teeth SO well. I used to get cavities yearly (and have had two root canals) until I started Waterpiking. Anyway, I did as much as I could to maintain a healthy smile, but bacteria and tarter inevitably built up underneath the braces. I had my teeth cleaned immediately after the braces removed, and right now I'm doing a round of these whitestrips. I have very sensitive teeth, so I usually opt for the gentle formula. If you don't have sensitive teeth, this 'Glamorous White' formula is fantastic as well (I've tried it and loved the results).

BTW - if you're local to my area and need a dentist/orthodontist, Dr. King in Canoga Park is AH.MA.ZING. He is the best dentist I have ever been to, and I've been to my fair share of horrible dentists...I'm talking nightmare status!! You will absolutely love Dr. King. He's got the nicest disposition, really cares for each patient, and does a fantastic job on taking care of your teeth. I don't even get scared when it's time for cleanings, or even fillings, when I go to him.

I'm not sure how exciting this post was - in fact, I almost didn't publish it cause I kept thinking, "Who would want to read about my teeth?!" But I remember before I got braces, I heavily relied on others' experiences. So I hope this gave you some insight if you're considering them! If not, hopefully it was entertaining! Let me know if you have any questions! xoxo

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