Thursday, August 24, 2006

Braces - a masochistic self experiment

Before I post about my misadventures in the East, I should go about teling my story chronologically. Even before I set foot on the aeroplane, the Saturday before (12th August) in a foolish attempt to eat less in Singapore, I decided to have braces put on just before I left.

This wasn't exactly a spur of the moment thing. I have always felt self concious about my smile due to a few spaces (the dental term is diastemas) somewhere near the front, as well as a slightly rotated front tooth. As a result I have always smiled with my lips closed. An ex- called it a mona lisa smile... I have yet to find out what that was supposed to mean.

Front view- red spot is a chili flake, not gingivitis!!

Anyway, now that I have started working one day a week at an orthodontist's, braces is much the culture there and being the tooth perverts we all are, he had already checked my pearly whites out (as of course I had sussed his). He generously offered a consultation and once he had a look, he also very very generously offered free treatment. At the moment it is worth about $5,700 for standard treatment (not including cases that require surgery etc.) so I didn't think much of it and jumped at the opportunity. Hehe he also mentioned that he wanted his lower jaw crowding (a very common problem) corrected and said we could treat each other, him of course being a guinea pig for my unexpert hands at wiring and bracketing.

We also decided to try out a revamped old method of quick bonding (called indirect bonding). I won't go into details here but it was something he wanted to try out as it could save time and also mean that I better understand how treatment was applied. Hence we were the first two in his clinic to try out this new method which wasn't too bad. It replaced the traditional method of glueing them on one bracket at a time which can be very slow and you need to have lots of moisture control.

This is my right side profile. As you can see, I do have about a 2 mm gap between my lateral incisor and my canine tooth on the top jaw and about a 1.2 mm gap same place on the bottom jaw.

Similar story on the left side but with 1 mm gaps each. I didn't have the fancy camera or special mirrors to take photographs to show you the back teeth, however, my top permolars are also quite rotated, one almost turned 90 degrees.

Ok so whats the lowdown? It did hurt. The first 3 days, it felt like my mouth was incredibly scratchy. The teeth did not hurt if you were doing nothing but once you start chewing something, it feels like it is under immense pressure, like someone is jamming something in between all the time. And the food just gets caught everywhere. Quite a few of the teens don't seem to mind this! However, personally I dislike the fact that certain foods get caught between the wires and there is no decent way of getting them out except with a toothbrush.

By the end of my time away, it had improved to a point that I could chew again. Although I feel it isn't as efficent as before, at least I can chew. It is hard to bite things off though eg. bread roll, celery stick, spring roll. Everything has to be pinched off or cut up and chewed on the back teeth. I really don't know how teens manage it! They seem to eat as per normal. Maybe its because my bones are getting older. Or it might get better after a few more weeks...

We didn't have time to completely place the rings around my back teeth before I had to go, hence I still have another appointment to go before I officially start treatment on the top and bottom teeth. I think I might put in a 6 weekly report on how its going. It will be an interesting experiment to see how things change over time. Thankfully I like soup, oat and rice porrige. As for the orthodontist, he chickened out of full banding top and bottom and only decided to have the bottom jaw done so hes only half as uncomfortable as I am!

Note: The top rubber ring colour was meant to be white but somehow picked up tea etc. stains along the way and went yellow! I have since changed the colours to the same as the bottom ones ... bright pink and blue.


At 1:01 AM, Blogger Dentist Down Under said...

You just condemned yourself to a lifetime of retainer hurhur :p
I saw an old lady who had ortho tx 50 yrs ago! She stopped wearing her retainer ages ago and according to her the Md teeth had went back to what it used to be (crowding), but the Mx was ok I think probably because she had the 5's taken out for ortho and the 6's at a later age due to caries, in fact her 4's had drifted distally and now have diastemas btw the 3's & 4's.
Do wear your retainers forever after completion of treatment. :p

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

heh the orthodontist I work for puts retaining wires behind the anterior teeth and thats it. Even his patients I see after 5 years post treatment, the teeth have not moved. I of course checked out the quality of work before agreeing to this treatment :) Furthermore, my prob is too much space, not too little. I wish ! I had mesial drift of mand. teeth so those stupid gaps would close up but they have not moved at all. Models taken 10 years ago are still the same as those before treatment.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Sweet_Rainbow said...

I think the braced look cool...i hae always wanted them :)
Yes we will have to catch up again very soon...
I turned the word verification thingy on like you said :)

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Katie said...

Oh Rach, I feel your pain!! Four years of braces were awful, and I was so self-concious with them. And now, I need new retainers, but McKrusty (as I like ot call him - he's very nice though!) has been really sick and his surgery is all the way in Waitara... I think that wire thingy sounds like a great idea coz retainers are a pain in the butt! One of my bottom teeth isn't completely inline either, although I'm pretty sure it's been like that since I got them off. I have such a small mouth (but I overuse it to compensate - hehe)!

Anyway, it does get better after a few weeks and it all just becomes normal after a while. :)

At 12:18 AM, Blogger Dr. Mommy, D.D.S. said...

do you guys sell kaopectate in australia? it's an OTC anti-diarrhea medicine, but when applied to canker and braces sores gives immediate relief. i wore my braces for a year while i was in dental school. i had the ceramic brackets, and the first week my lips swelled up so much i looked like angelina jolie - and it didn't look as sexy.

how long will your treatment be? is orthodontics a subspecialty down under?

At 2:15 PM, Blogger milgwimper said...


This is so facinating! I don't know whether to congratulate you or feel sorry! HUGZ

Dr Mommy,

I never knew about the Kaopectate; of course now it is filed in my brain with other misc information. But if I run int oanyone with braces hopefully I will remember!

At 11:31 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Katie! thanks for dropping by :) hmm hope mc Krusty gets better. So you can get a new retainer or ask him if he will do a retaining wire for you.Or get your mum to ask Mark if he will do the retaining wire for you ;)

Hi Doc mommy! Hmm haven't heard of that stuff but I got a a "care packet" from the orthodontist with a tube of brace relief and it has topical lignocaine so that helps. The care packet also had ortho wax amongst other cleaning paraphenalia.

Orthodontics in Australia is considered a specialty of Dentistry and requires a 3 years full time Master's program, to be taken after the usual 5 year undergraduate degree (B.D.S) This goes the same for Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Paediatrics. I believe Special Care is a 2 year masters, as is Community
Dental Health. Oral Surgery used to be a 3 years masters but is now performed only by Maxillofacial Surgeons and that is a 8 year course.

It is not unlawful for any general dentist to practice orthodontics, however, seeing the number of lawsuits nowadays, many choose not to. I am just glad I get to learn a bit more about that specialty that not many general dentists get to see.

Hi Milly, have missed you!! hehe well depending on whether the wire is new or not, you can do either!

At 2:29 PM, Blogger milgwimper said...

HUGZ Well I have missed you too! :) I SHOULD finish up the Michigan posts, but I am so busy! Well I have only one or two left so I will try to get a hop on them!

At 11:43 PM, Blogger Dave Ripken said...

I'm a 37 year old banker from New York City who just got braces on Thursday (the debut day of Ugly Betty). I'm sitting here suffering with pain, hating my decision to do this. I thought I'd search some blogs under the word braces and see what was out there.
I'm looking at 24-30 of incarceration (is that long?) Anyways, while I know you're down about it, I'd love some advice about how to deal with them if you don't mind (I don't know anyone else who has them as an adult and feel weird talking to kids about them!)
1) Does the pain EVER go away? It's been 3 days now and it hurts worse than ever?
2) Do peopel comment about yours? I know I've already had a bus driver, cashier, and random foot pedestrian ask me and its kinda annoying as I like to keep these things under raps!
3) I know you mentioned rubber bands. Are they as bad as I think they may be? You see, I start that part of the treatment next month and am dreading it. Does it hurt to yawn in them? And do they pop? I remember a girl who had 2 pop out DURING an oral presentation in 7th grade. She turned PURPLE....
Oh well,

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Rayner said...

How are your teeth doing now, Rachel? I hope you've already achieved your desired look for your pearly whites. My aunt's personal expert in dentistry (in Chicago) said that both braces and teeth bonding can be beneficial, but she told him that she digs the look of having metal wires on teeth, so she chose the latter. Well, the great thing about that is she had options. That's what I really like about orthodontics and dentistry (Chicago).

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Sathiaja Sarah said...

Finding a dentist is something people dread but it is essential. Factors such as such as attitude, education, work ethics and location must be considered.
see more details:Orthodontist Revere MA


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