Here is my new smile --
still great in 2006, two years after my braces were removed
-- because I wear my retainers several nights per week! I
was in braces almost three years. After they came off, I did
some at-home whitening (mainly with professional strength
Crest Whitestrips) and had a little bonding done to fix a
couple of small gaps.
This photo was taken two years
into treatment, 2004...
This photo was taken two months after treatment began,
A close-up of my teeth,
the morning before I got my braces:
this was so embarrassing. Some teeth on the bottom overlap
each other, and several aren't very straight. They also
aren't even vertically (some seem
"shorter" than others, especially on top). I
got really good at smiling in such a way that my bottom teeth
didn't show at all, and you couldn't see how crooked the top
teeth were. I hated having to do that.
This was after six
months of treatment:
Here are my teeth after 6
months of treatment. My top teeth are almost all aligned, and
my bottom teeth do not overlap anymore! Note that the arch
on the bottom front teeth has been removed because my
gums were suffering. Soon after this photo was taken, I
had my four second bicuspids extracted. The extractions were
unfortunately necessary because my gums were in danger of
receding. Extracting some teeth gave us more leeway to
straighten my smile without harming my gums. Ironically, every
orthodontist I had ever consulted told me that I'd need four
extractions. I guess they were all right.
Elastic Power Chains To
Close the Gaps
On July 2, 2002,
I had the arch wires put back on after having my four second
bicuspids extracted. These photos show the white elastic
chains (extreme right and left), on top of the arch wire) that
will help close the gaps. It's kind of hard to see,
since they are white. The elastic chain is attached to the
brackets the same way as the regular little rubber
bands (ligating modules), except that the rubber bands are
chained together, thus pulling on the teeth. The front
two bottom teeth are not banded in yet. Dr. Vogt wanted to
give the gums more time to adjust before pushing them.
Yes, so far, it HURTS! (p.s. the pain lasted about 2
weeks and then dissipated).
9 Months of Treatment -
Light Blue Bands and Chains
I love to eat Indian and Thai
curry, but was tired of how they stained my clear bands and
elastic chains. So, I switched to light blue. You can barely
see the difference between light blue and white. Now, after 9
months of treatment and extractions, my smile is looking
better than ever. My bite is beginning to be less open. The
gaps from the extractions are closing up. The chains do not
hurt anymore (they go back on the bottom next month after
one specific tooth is made a little straighter).
1 Year of Treatment - Chains
still wearing light blue power chains, and have begun wearing
elastics to help close the gaps from the bicuspid extractions
(the gaps should be completely closed in about 4 more months).
The elastics hook once on top and twice on the bottom, forming
bite has changed significantly in the past 3 months and my
teeth look straighter than ever. The top front teeth now
slightly overlap the bottoms. This is to help correct my open
bite. Notice the space that is closing between my upper and
lower teeth on the right side of my mouth!
wear the elastics at night, and during the day when I can. I
take them off to eat and to brush my teeth. At first they made
my teeth ache, but now I barely notice them. Sometimes I
forget that I have them on -- until I try to yawn and they
snap my mouth closed! I do wear the elastics in public. They
are barely noticeable. They impede my speech ever so slightly,
making me slur certain words a bit. Overall, they're not too
bad to deal with.
1 Year 4
months of Treatment
year, 4 months into treatment. I'm wearing "smoke"
colored power chains, and you can barely see them! The gaps
are almost closed and the bite is looking more even than ever.
Dr. Vogt said that my gaps are closing slower than average. My
bottom teeth are beginning to rotate inward too much, so a
stronger arch wire was used this time. I am still wearing
elastics at night and during the day when I can.
A Year and a
Half of Treatment - The Gaps are Almost Closed
months into treatment. We're taking a break from the elastics
for a while, but I will continue to wear the smoke-colored
power chains (smoke color has proved to be my favorite) until
the end of my treatment. The four extraction gaps are almost
closed (especially the top ones), but the lower gaps continue
to stubbornly remain, as show in the following photo.
Vogt says that my gaps are closing much slower than average.
Oh lucky me. At this point, my teeth are fairly straight and
my bite is pretty much where Dr. Vogt wants it to be. Now at
each adjustment, he's tweaking things to straighten a few
teeth which are still a speck crooked in one way or another.
Also, my total treatment time will probably be more than 24
months. I expect to be in treatment an additional six months
and get the braces off in Spring or Summer 2004.
can see the gaps between my frontward molars (which are
banded) and the teeth next to them. Aren't my fillings lovely?
That's the result of lazy oral hygiene as a child and lack of
sealants in the '60s. Thankfully, so far, my kids don't have
one cavity in either of their mouths!
21 Months of
months into treatment, and now after taking a break from
elastics for a while, I'm wearing new ones that go from the
first upper hook down to the last lower hook. This will help
to better align my bite. My extraction gaps are FINALLY
beginning to close. I'll have a progress photo of that soon.
22 Months -- The
Gaps are Almost Gone!
photo on the left was taken in June, and the photo on the
right was taken in late September. FINALLY those stubborn
bottom gaps are closing. A few more months and they'll be
2 Years - The
am wearing smoke-colored power chains and ligatures. There are
loops on the bottom arch wire to help put the final closures
in the extraction gaps. Power chains are attached directly to
the arch wire loops. Dr. Vogt says that this helps close
extraction gaps better on adults.
are still a few spaces and small gaps here and there (like
between the front top teeth), which will be closed as the
final adjustments are made in the coming months. Dr. Vogt is
also putting small bends in the arch wire here and there to
help straighten things out more. From here on, it's "a
little tweaking here, a little tweaking there" to get
and a Half Years - Any month now!
am still wearing smoke-colored power chains and ligatures. As
you can see, one of my front teeth is also tied in with a tie
wire. I'm still wearing the loops on the bottom arch wire. The
gap between the front teeth has closed up, but there are a
still a couple of small gaps we need to work on (you can't see
them very well at this angle, but they are there). My midline
is also slightly off, but that will be correct by wearing a
rubber band on one side. The arch wire has so many subtle
little bends, it is more crooked than my teeth at this point.
It looks like my braces will be off in September or October
Three-Quarter Years - Still Waiting!
are still waiting for a couple of very stubborn gaps to close,
particularly a gap between two top molars, where food keeps
getting lodged. This month, Dr. Vogt did a technique where he
tied the molars together with metal tie wire. He also did a
double power chain technique on top called "Carlos"
(Carlos?!) Boy does my upper arch feel tight now! My midline
is still a bit off, but I don't know if there's anything we
can do about it at this point. Truthfully, it doesn't really
bother me, and most people would never notice that, anyway.
But who knows, maybe after this month, if the gaps finally
close up, the midline might go back to its normal position. I
really hope I get my braces off before the end of this year!
One Month Shy of Three
Years - The Brace Are Finally Off!
the braces finally came off and the teeth look great! You
can't see in this photo, but I do have a couple of small gaps
that will need to be bonded. A few of the teeth were shaped
slightly, but that's all -- they're natural.
Fillings and Bonding - I'm All Done!
Spring 2005, I had the lower molar fillings changed from
amalgam to composite (tooth-colored) material. I did this
because, after the extractions and braces, those molars had
moved further forward, making the silver fillings -- which
spilled to the outside of the molars -- visible when
I smiled. This bothered
me and the fillings were old anyway, so I had them changed.
When the dentist re-did the fillings, he also closed a
couple of small leftover gaps where food often get stuck.
I had some bonding done on a few of the top teeth to close
some additional small leftover gaps and slightly widen and enlarge the
upper laterals (purely for aesthetics). My regular dentist did
the bonding, I did not go to a special cosmetic
I'm all done, and this is the very final photo of my
teeth -- the end of my very long orthodontic journey. I know
that my teeth are not absolutely perfect (my midline is
slightly off, I have Fluorosis or decalcification stains, and the lower gum
receded slightly in a few places). Despite this, I am extremely
happy with the result, and I am proud to show off my straight,
natural teeth! Thank you for doing such a great job, Dr. Vogt!
this to the pre-treatment photo, taken three years earlier:
hope that my story will inspire others to have the courage to
improve their teeth -- or anything else. It is sometimes not
easy to do these things, but in the long run, it's worth it!
of Luck to you in your own self-improvement journey!