Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Reflection on Having Braces

I've had a lot of people ask me what it was like dealing with braces as an adult, so I thought I'd try to summarize some of my thoughts here.  As a bonus, you'll see some awful pictures of me. :) Hopefully it'll help those that are on the fence about whether or not they should take the plunge.  It can be a hard decision, I know!

First, let's take a look at my before and after.  The before is the photo they took at the orthodontist office, so it's not terribly flattering.  I was hoping they'd upload my after photo so I could use it for this, but they haven't yet.  I didn't have a photo from the same angle, sorry.  But, you get the idea.

Left: Sept. 15, 2010 | Right: May 1, 2012

As a kid my teeth weren't horrible, I guess.  They weren't quite level and some were angled, but I managed.  Once the wisdom teeth started coming in, that changed.  My teeth bothered me, but I never wanted to make my parents spend the money.  That, and they told me they'd have to break my palate because my mouth was too small.  No, thank you!  It didn't help that I didn't have a great relationship with my dentist and wasn't a fan of any dental processes.

Fast forward 10 years and I'm a grown up (26 is a grown up, right?), and I've found a fantastic dentist.  If you're ever in the market for a dentist, Dr. David Collier is your man.  Tell him I sent ya, he won't be surprised.  I'm no longer afraid of dentistry and my teeth are in great shape.  Dr. Collier tells me that I'd have a knockout smile if I would consider braces.  I told him I'd consider it, but the idea of being a 26 year old single girl with braces was none too appealing.  I had a hard enough time meeting men without having a mouth full of metal and rubber bands.  Well, I did consider it, but it took me 5 years to get myself to a point where my self-esteem could handle it.

Dr. Collier recommended Dr. Rovner as an orthodontist as did many people I knew.  Some had had braces with him when they were 12, some had just gotten them off as adults.  All had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.  Dr. Collier assured me he wasn't biased by the fact that Dr. Rovner is is BFF. :)  I was pretty confident I had the right guy, so in I went for a consult.  I wasn't a candidate for Invisalign, but I didn't need my palate broken, thank goodness.  Dr. Rovner was confident we could get it all done without breaking anything, pulling any teeth, and in 24 months.  Financially, it wasn't that painful either.  They spread the cost of the braces over the length of your sentence...I mean, treatment.  So, I had my payments (after the down payment) broken into 24 months.  The cost included everything from the consultation to the final retainers.  So, all in all, not a bad deal.  You cost may vary a bit, so I won't go into much detail on my cost here. Just know that I wish insurance covered adult orthodontics.  One thing I will say, I paid an extra $350 to get ceramic braces on my top teeth.  Money well spent!  From a distance, you couldn't even see them because they matched my teeth.  You could just see a wire going across, which isn't bad.  The metal would have stood out a bit more.

Anyway, I did it.  It helped that I had a boyfriend that was supportive of my decision and didn't find the idea of me with braces repulsive.  He only had 3 months of a braces free me before I took the plunge.  I had the spacers put in on October 22, 2010, and that might have been the worst part of the whole thing.  A week later, on October 27, 2010, I got my braces.

October 27, 2010.  Smiling after getting my braces, before the pain set in. Notice, you can only see the wire as the ceramic brackets don't show as much.  And it's a grainy iPhone photo. :)

The changes came quickly, positive reinforcement that I'd made the right decision.  I was going to take a weekly photo showing the progress, but that only lasted about 8 weeks.  The progress was still noticeable, but I never made the animated .gif that I was planning.  In two months, I felt like a new person! The two front teeth were level, the teeth that were sitting back were being lined up with the others.  It was a damn miracle!

Another grainy iPhone photo, this time in December 2010.  Two months! 

Even with braces, I suddenly had more confidence in my smile than I'd had in years.  Not to say I wouldn't have preferred to not have braces for my trip to Costa Rica in July 2011, but I managed.

Braulio Carrillo National Park in Costa Rica, July 2011.  Yay for ceramic braces!

Yeah, there are things you should avoid eating with braces, but I didn't have much trouble.  I became obsessive about checking my teeth after eating, however.  And corn on the cob?  Yeah, you might want to avoid that.

After attempting to eat corn on the cob at the Adel Sweet Corn Festival, August 2011.

I ended up getting my braces off a full six months early thanks to my diligence when it came to wearing rubber bands.  Wear your rubber bands!  I actually preferred to have them in.  The bands pulled on the teeth and helped to release some of that pressure from the teeth moving.  So, while they were annoying, they were totally worth it.  Dr. Rovner has had people add months to years to their treatment by not wearing the rubber bands.  And then you have cases like me where I get them off six months early because I wore them!  The moral of the story is clear, people.

I got my braces off on May 1, 2012 and I've been smiling ever since!  I was worried the removal process was going to suck, but it really wasn't painful.  A little uncomfortable at times, but not bad!  I have to wear an Invisalign type retainer on the top at all times (except eating or drinking anything but water) for six months, and then only at night.  I had a permanent retainer put in on the bottom, but I also have a retainer to wear over it at night.  I'm adjusting to that.  I'll have that for the rest of my life unless I want my investment to go down the toilet.

Long story short(ish), I'm really glad I did it and it was worth every (uninsured) penny.  I think I might have gotten a blessing in disguise by not getting braces as a kid.  Lots of adults get braces again, or have crooked teeth because they didn't wear the retainers after having braces as a kid.  Since I spent my own money, and I'm a responsible adult, I know I'll wear the retainer and protect my investment and my smile.

I highly recommend that anyone that wishes they could have straighter teeth look into it.  It's not as bad as I thought it'd be having them as an adult.  Hell, you might even get carded more often! :)

First social event photo post-braces.  All smiles!

Thanks for reading!


Rachel said...

Well, you look beautiful either way. Gorgeous smile after all that work and dedication! I keep telling my niece to wear her bands!

yogagirl said...

Thank-you! I obviously prefer the after photos. ;)

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