Saturday, March 28, 2009

No More Braces!

Oh happy day! Oh happy week! Theres no more metal shredding the insides of my mouth

After nearly SIX YEARS of wearing braces I finally had enough, called it done and begged the orthodontist to take them off ( and threatened to do it myself with pliers if he didn't). I had to sign a waiver stating that I was going against his advice and ending treatment early- but c'mon, I had braces put on in May of 2003- before either of my children were born, or conceived. I was a college freshman there, a newlywed. In all my wedding photos I NEVER smiled with my teeth, EVER. My parents didn't have the money to pay the $2k or whatever it was supposed to cost for braces, so I just dealt with it. My teeth were crooked, overlapping, it was awful. It was embarrassing. So I learned to perfect the chubby cheeked forced lip smile. Sometimes if the camera caught it just right I looked pretty, but more often then not it made my chin jut out at an odd angle, my cheeks looked like a hamster and it looked very cheesy. Thankfully we had an awesome wedding photographer who understood my concerns and worked alot with me on how to turn my face , position, and smile so it looked good on camera.

My wonderful husband Christopher promised me one day I would be able to smile and not be ashamed, so the first big thing he bought me wasn't a car, or jewelery, or a house : it was a new smile.
Unfortunately starting orthodontic treatment as an adult (18) meant my bones and teeth were more solid and more stubborn to moving. I spent the first year and a half or so with a annoying gizmo called a "spider" in the roof of my mouth. It was like a frame that fit up in the roof of my mouth that required a tiny key to turn every day to s-l-o-w-l-y widen the frame and push the top of my mouth wide enough to fit all my teeth. For awhile once my mouth was stretched wide I had this hillbilly wide gap between my teeth.

I forbid anyone from taking a picture of me with a gap so wide I could fit a virginia slims cigarette in it.

Then x-rays revealed I still had adult teeth stuck up inside my upper jaw that never descended, and were pushing on the bone making these bumps under my upper lip that looked like there was a tooth about to pop any second. First I had to go get 'baby' canines yanked out. Then when they shaved off those bumps to expose the teeth they realized the teeth weren't there..they were deeper in. I think one of my worst memories was being totally awake, but numbed with local anesthetic ( since I was breastfeeding my daughter) and hearing the sound of that bone drill thingy grinding away at my jaw and smelling something burning...all to hear the dental surgeon go " Uh oh, this doesn't look right..." *shudders*

Then more dental surgery to expose those 'lost' teeth and glue a tiny chain to them so they could be slowly yanked back down to proper positions. This time nursing or not I insisted on being sedated, I didn't want to hear what they were doing.

Then the right side of my jaw decided to be stupid and began to tilt upward at a slight that meant 2 years of wearing 'triangle' rubber bands to hold my jaw shut and in alignment as often as possible ( I only wore them at night because I couldn't stand having my mouth banded shut). I skipped monthly checkups because all they did was wire another sire in, put new silver bands in ( I refused to wear colors, I was an adult! and my teeth would hurt for a week afterwards. I became an expert at the sly smirk in place of a toothy grin.
My teeth ached, they were sensitive to anything hot or cold, food was constantly stuck in the space between the spider and the roof of my mouth, and my teeth moved into proper position one week only to tweak slightly out of place again by the next checkup. My teeth were as obedient as toddlers being told to stay still.

2 babies and a lifetime later its Finally enough. The 'lost' eye teeth had been coaxed into position, with one slightly twisted but more or less OK. My 2 molars on one side didn't meet up exactly but it wasn't too noticeable. I'm 25 now, and I don't need to look like a frigging teenager anymore. My orthodontist wanted my teeth "perfect" and insisted that I just wear the rubber bands on my jaw for a few months more to get my jaw to bend back- but I said no. ( Hes a really good guy and well respected in this area and orthodontist to celebrities, so he knows perfect teeth). Tuesday was my emancipation, my day of freedom from wires and chains and brackets and rubber bands and miles of floss.

For the first time in my life, I could *really*smile. New hair, new glasses, and I could finally smile about it all. Despite all the shit going down in my life right now...
I'm smiling because I finally physically can.


Di Hickman said...

I had braces as a child, finally got them off when I was about 16. I personally think it's the worse thing we are doing to children in todays society making them all conform to "perfect" teeth. You see them everywhere in America today, perfect teeth people. It doesn't make them healthier though so why are we doing it?
I will say that as a kid it's horrifying. I had to have a total of 9 teeth removed (in 2 ops) as I had too many teeth for my small jaw.

SuburbanGardener said...

Wow. That must feel great!!! Great news. Wonder what your kids think since you always had them?

ChristyACB said...

Wow! Your teeth look fantastic!

Are you going to keep wearing the retainers?

Having perfect looking teeth can also be bad. Mine were so obviously straight and "perfect" that no one ever even evaluated me. It turns out at 42 that the reason I grind my teeth is because my teeth are perfect...just differently fitted..from top and bottom. So the perfect upppers are meant for a totally different perfect lower jaw.

Yeah. Yippee. I'm so so excited.

Of course, my choices are horrendous surgery to cut things down and then years of braces or grinding.

I'm getting another nightguard and I'll just keep grinding!

I'm always amazed at the stamina that people exhibit in getting that kind of thing done. Congrats!

Sinfonian said...

Congrats! I hate to say that I had mine on for only a little over a year, but it was my second time, so it wasn't nearly as bad this time I guess.

I totally understand. I was ready to be done with them after a year. Now I only wear a retainer to bed, so it's not so bad.

Your smile is beautiful. More than well earned!