by Jonathan from Vancouver, Canada
Like many of the people who have submitted their stories here, I have been contemplating braces for a couple years. I would think about it on and off as my lower front teeth are crowded and my upper 2 teeth are unaligned. I also knew I had a bite problem where my lower teeth and upper teeth lined up completely leaving no overbite at all.
When I was about 8 years old, my sister and I had braces put on. We both had some weird head gear on and retainers which pulled our mouth forward. I guess the purpose of that was to create a proper overbite. My sister had braces put on both her top and bottom teeth and 10+ years later her teeth are still immaculate. I on the other hand, am another story. I only had braces put on my top teeth, because the dentist said I did not need them for my bottom teeth. If you haven’t noticed yet, I have been saying DENTIST and not ORTHODONTIST. Being a family referred dentist, I suppose my mom “trusted” the guy. I can say it could be partially my fault for not wearing my retainer after my braces were off, but that’s besides the point. So years pass by, and I never thought there was anything wrong with my teeth. I would brush it and not really inspect them because I never flossed. I also never liked to smile in pictures because I thought I had a big mouth, not so much self conscious about my “grillz”.
One day I was watching myself on a video camcorder, I noticed that when I laughed and smiled, my teeth looked horrible! Not only did I notice my front tooth being in the spotlight a bit, but it looked as if my top teeth were kind of angled upwards as well. You can only see this from the side view. From the front, it looked OK…not great but not as if anyone would be like “oh my that’s bad teeth”. So since then I knew my teeth were not great, but it wasn’t always in the back of my mind. I would think about it here and there and then forget it about it, mainly because I had no way to afford braces.
Four years since that “wake up call”, and I finished University and am working a full time job and a part time job in the fitness industry. I was notified that my job offers benefits. GREAT!! This would be the perfect chance to get my teeth fixed! To my dismay, I found out that orthodontic treatment was not included in the package, only dental was covered. I was pretty down when I realized this, but I made a decision to get my teeth fixed, so I made an appointment for a consultation with a highly experienced orthodontist in downtown Vancouver. I realized I would be looking at shelling out $5,000 dollars, but it was an investment I was willing to make. And besides, the place offered payment plans.
So I go into my appointment. It was sort of a nightmare, to say the least. All my fears pretty much became reality. I went in thinking “Get my teeth fixed and straightened and good to go”! WRONG! Immediately one of the assistants said “Oh my he has an open bite.” I knew what that was because I did a lot of researching online looking at before and after pictures of orthodontic treatments. I knew I had a slight underbite of maybe 1mm or even less but open bite Then she said “You may need an operation to get that fixed.” OPERATION!! My heart almost sank to the pit of my stomach and I didn’t even take one x-ray yet!! I was hoping there was a mistake and they were wrong.
They weren’t. Not only did the specialist recommend surgery to fix the bite, the braces alone would cost $7,500! I would have to wear braces for 1.5 years, have surgery, then keep the braces on for another 6 months and then I would have the Kodak smile I always dreamed of. (Surgery by the way was another estimated $5,000!) The first thought that crossed my mind wasn’t the fear of surgery, but the money. Where was I going to get the extra money for the surgery. I had to go home and think about it. I made another appointment to see another ortho for a second opinion. He basically said similar things, and that surgery would correct the problem both functionally and esthetically, whereas a non-surgical approach would mainly be camouflaging the problem. Price difference was not substantial either.
Three days later, I made an appointment to the first ortho I had gone to see. A week later, I had spacers put in my back front teeth. A week after that, I had braces put on the top. They said they would wait a month to put braces on my lower teeth, just so I can get used to having braces in general.
I vaguely remember how it was like to have braces, since I did have them when I was younger. The key things I remembered were the tenderness of my teeth a few days into getting them tightened, and the insides of my cheeks getting shredded! This time around, my ortho and his assistants were very helpful and informative. The lady who put the braces on is fantastic. She seems to really enjoy what she does and makes it very pleasant. I was excited about braces. The sooner I get them on, the sooner I’ll have that Kodak smile!
Well it’s been a litter over a week since I got them put on my top teeth, and its been alright. I had to use some wax to soothe my cheeks from the brackets, but once the cheek heals, you can ditch the wax since the cheeks are used to the brackets being there. I can see some change as some teeth are more aligned. Moreover, all my top teeth are pretty tender which is expected. The only thing I hate is that my lips are always dry ‘cuz of the gap the brackets create between your teeth and your lips and tongue. Again, it will be a process, and the surgery will be interesting as well.
But in the end, a little more than 2 years of moderate “suffering” will give me a lifetime of great teeth. You can count on me wearing the retainers for as long as I live! Also, flossing for the first time was pretty “bloody.” But after 3 nights in a row of flossing, no blood at all. I brush my teeth 3 times a day, floss it nightly, and use Listerine twice a day. It’s a routine I’m willing to keep for life! I am spending $12,000+ of my own hard earned money!!