Saturday, 3 November 2012

Brace fitting day

I'd put this back once to give my extraction more time to heal, but by Wednesday I felt I was as ready as I'd ever be. The first step was to see the hygienist for a thorough clean, I'd seen the same hygienist about six months earlier and had a fairly traumatic time as I'd not had a scale and polish from my dentist for a couple of years, partly due to him having less high standards, and partly due to his nurse being off sick. Still carrying the memories of my previous visit, it's fair to say I wasn't looking forward to this part of the day. I needn't have worried, she commented that I'd obviously got to grips with using the TePes, as I had no plaque at gum level. She still scraped away for twenty minutes or so, but I didn't bleed or flinch at all, so I put that down as a success!

The next step was to warn me about what I shouldn't eat. As I'd be having ceramic braces, curry is a bad idea as it stains the braces, so best left for the days before an adjustment. Similarly, crusty bread, apples and raw carrots plus other hard food can knock a bracket off the tooth and so should be avoided. Fizzy drinks are bad as the bubbles are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and similarly sweet food should be limited. She then ran me through the approach I'd need to take to cleaning once I had my brace. I'd need to take care of my gums, so I'd need to keep using the Tepes and angle the toothbrush down against the gums when cleaning. I also had to use a special brush to get in an around the brackets. She showed me both manual and electric toothbrush versions so I knew what I needed. I'd also need to use mouthwash, but not at the same time as cleaning my teeth. If I'm unable to clean my teeth after eating, I should carry some mouthwash with me, so I can use that instead. Most importantly, I need to pick one part of the day when I can spend some time giving my teeth a really good clean. The bacteria which forms plaque takes 24 hours to form, so as long as I clean really well once a day, I should be okay. It all sounded fine to me.

I then returned to the waiting room and waited to be called through by the orthodontist. I wasn't waiting long, he called me through and asked if I had any questions. My only query was about mouth ulcers. I normally use Corsodyl for a few days if I get one, and that clears it up, however, I knew that it might stain my braces. He agreed that long term use would stain both my braces and tongue, but using it for a couple of days shouldn't be an issue. I could also get topical anesthetic gel, which would take the pain away whilst they healed. He also mentioned that they'd give me some wax which I could apply to any parts of the brace which were rubbing to cut down on any discomfort.

We then moved onto the main event. He told me it wouldn't hurt at all and would take about half an hour. He started with my back molars, the process for each tooth was the same: apply some acid to remove the top few microns of enamel so that the bracket would stick, wash it off thoroughly, then apply the glue, apply the bracket and wipe off any glue overspill, then use a blue light pen to dry the glue. After doing the molars, he put in lip retractors and an appliance to stop me from supposedly needing to swallow (it didn't!) and then did all of my front teeth. The only painful moment was when he rested his finger in the socket of the extraction I'd had a couple of weeks previously! The process for the front teeth was only different as the brackets were pre glued. Once all the brackets were in place, he fixed the archwire at the bottom, adding power chains at the sides to close my two extraction gaps. Apparently these are normally only fitted at the end of treatment, but he was keen to fix my crossbite as soon as he could. Once the archwire was also fixed to my top jaw it was all done. I had a good rinse out and went to look in the mirror. My teeth felt huge with brackets on the outsides and I struggled to close my lips over them. When I smiled, I ended up with my lips stuck around the edges, not a good look! He warned me that my teeth would be uncomfortable for a few days whilst I got used to my braces and that he'd see me in six weeks for my first adjustment. By that time, hopefully my crossbite would be resolved. I was sent home with a selection of items to help me through the first few weeks.

When I got home I wasn't in any pain and so thought I should eat before that changed as I hadn't had any breakfast. I had a sandwich which was messy, as it got caught up in my brackets, but a good clean removed all the bits. The pain started about five hours afterwards, with my teeth aching when any pressure was applied, but a couple of painkillers took the pain away. I stuck to soup for the first couple of days but now, three days on I'm starting to use my front teeth to bite softer food and can chew carefully with my molars on one side. Hopefully the worst is over for now! I've also had problems with two of the brackets on my molars catching my cheek and one of the brackets on my front teeth rubbing against the inside of my lip when I speak. Luckily applying a bit of wax to the problem brackets seems to have prevented any mouth ulcers so far, fingers crossed it stays that way. I'm still slurring a bit when I talk, as my mouth is a different shape to that I'm used to, but at least I'm smiling less awkwardly.

So that I can keep a track on progress, I thought I'd take photos following every visit. The first picture was taken at my consultation appointment six weeks ago and shows my crossbite. The second picture was taken on the day I had my braces fitted. In my mind I thought I'd end up with really wiggly wires, so feel I've got off quite lightly! I'm already looking forward to going back in six weeks so I can compare progress. 

If you're considering braces and have any questions, just ask and I'll try to help!


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