Some while ago, Manu started this initiative on our blog towards having beautiful teeth. Didn’t want to leave her all by herself in this, so here I am, 3 days in, proudly displaying my lingual braces. Nope, they don’t show but I can guarantee you I definitely know they are there. They are reminding me of their presence every minute. This post is a short narrative on my new exciting dental journey and is meant, first and foremost, to raise awareness among you guys on different type of dental issues and treating them with the required care. I hope this can bring some relevant information for those of you going through something similar or are in doubt whether to go through it or not.
Most of you must have already noticed that I’m quite far off from the perfect smile. I might have tricked those few that forgot their glasses at home but, to be honest, I fully deserve my 4th grade “Beaver” nick-name (yeah, Bodi, I still remember it like it was yesterday) :) )
Even though the problem might seem trivial (rodent front teeth), the situation is actually much more complex: my teeth’ alignment on each jaw is only the “superficial” orthodontics part of the problem. The core part is on a mandible level: both my jaws are in “retrograde” position plus my lower jaw is too small and also askew (yay!). This is one of the many combinations of orthognathic problems one can have.
For those of you that are lucky enough, your dental aesthetics problems can usually be fixed through braces alone. We are looking at a broad range of techniques, each suited for your type of problem. Any average to difficult condition will probably require fixed braces. These further divide into three main categories:
- Classic (on the outside surface of the teeth)
- Lingual (on the inside surface of your teeth) – this is what I am currently trying to master
- Invisalign – transparent retainers built personalized for your teeth; for those of you whose situation affords it, this seems to be like a great solution. Manu knows more :)
In my case, things did not stop here. My pronounced orthognathic problem did not allow resolution through braces alone but also required mandible surgery on both my upper and lower jaw. Quick overview of the sequence of steps:
- 4 tooth extractions ( apart from wisdom teeth which are long gone) with the purpose of making space for teeth to be aligned by braces
- 1.5 years of wearing braces, until the teeth are satisfactorily aligned on my arcades (only 1,5 years minus 3 days to go!!!:) )
- Double orthognathic jaw surgery – extending lower jaw as it is way to small and aligning it with the upper jaw + bring both jaws to the front a little bit more for the purpose of having an improved aesthetic result post-surgery.
- 6 months until 100% recovery from surgery (sounds worse than it is, technically after 2 weeks people can already go to work) + continuing with braces until the Hollywood smile is complete :)
I have been asked several times why I would even think of putting myself through this ordeal. The truth is that if it were only for aesthetics, I would have left things as they are. The problem with these kind of medical conditions is that they affect your teeth at a very fast pace. Having an incorrect bite and very crowded and incorrectly positioned teeth usually leads to teeth decay and loss at a very early age (after 35-40?). No matter how military your oral hygiene is, there are simply some things that cannot be avoided. Moreover, an incorrect bite and jaw position can lead to chronic head-aches and mechanical difficulties. It’s important to know your medical situation in this sense so, if you have any suspicions of any orthognathic problem, don’t hesitate to get a check-up at a specialized clinic.
Especially at this point in time, I am fully experiencing “the bads” and trying to get adjusted to the new situation. I am also probably quite grumpy and will be so with every braces adjustment for a few days. Arghhh! Here’s what to expect:
- Painful braces adjustments – prepare those painkillers as the first few days after each adjustment are a peach!
- Depending on the type of braces you have your mouth will be fighting against the strange new metal object fiercely (especially when wearing lingual braces, where the adjustment takes longer) – you might get irritated on the inside of your cheeks and lips if you’re wearing classical braces or on your tongue if you’re wearing lingual ones. Some form of relief will come from special wax for those stingy spots on your braces. Also, there are some medicines and creams you can buy for mouth irritations to relieve the pain a bit.
- Bye-bye to your favorite crunchy foods – you need to be careful with what you’re eating and focus on chewing smaller pieces at a time, not biting on any hard food, focusing on soft but highly nutritive meals (smoothies, soups, mashed vegetables, etc). Don’t forget to treat yourself with ice cream regularly for some moral boost :))
- Allocate much more time to dental hygiene
- Be ready to carry around a variety of tools and brushes to clean your teeth after each meal – best combination would be a water-floss device + an electric toothbrush that is braces friendly + an inter-dental brush for trickier spots.
- You’ll most likely be speaking with a lisp so try to embrace it as it will improve over time. At the beginning you’ll basically sound like Daffy Duck, that’s it.
Will finish this off on a positive note, focusing on the good part and what is there to look forward to: dental problems can be quite a burden, especially if you’re one of those that are terrified of the dentist. Drawing the line, I chose for 3 years of work and rough spots so that I can have a healthy sturdy smile for a lifetime. This is the trade-off I decided to make. From the experiences of those that are already done with this process I came to know that the boost of self-confidence a nice smile brings is priceless and can influence you in ways you couldn’t have imagined otherwise. I will be keeping a record of my progress and challenges for those of you that are considering going through a similar dental program (with or without orthognathic problems). I found some blogs myself that were very useful so I thought it would be great to do the same from this point on for you guys.
Holding on tight,