My name is Lawrence, and I am a 37 year old Sergeant First Class United States Army airborne ranger stationed at Ft. Irwin. I just got my braces off and would like to share this story with you.
As a kid, I had always been self-conscious of my smile. My front lower teeth were just a little off, but the upper tooth just behind my right front tooth was really back behind it, and it showed. My parents never had the money to fix it. To make a long story short, when I was 35, I found a military orthodontist that would put them on. I don’t care what anyone says, when they go on, its traumatic! It’s not fun. I was able to say “Thank you Sir” when he finished, but not much else.
Braces are definitely one of those things that you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. At the time, I was an infantry platoon sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, and I spent the entire next two days talking over a radio to a helicopter dropping paratroopers, and it was really not fun. But the pain went away after about a week. Like your site says, tightening is not fun- sometimes it was not too bad, sometimes I ate soup for 2 days. My lowers actually lined up in about 3 months, but I was then deployed to Bosnia and spent 6 months without being able to get any dental care. It wasn’t too bad, but I used a lot of wax!
I came back to the states, and was informed that I would be leaving for Afghanistan in about 10 days! I went to my orthodontist, and he REALLY tightened my braces. Oh my god, that hurt! So then I spent about 6 months in combat with, of course, no dental care. There were some dentists at the big airbases, but being in the infantry, I was never able to see them while I was there. Ever see the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks? Where he does his own dental care with an ice skate? My orthodontist had put a big spring over that top tooth to spread them out, and it broke one day while out on patrol. I had to take a Leatherman Tool and a mirror and “fix it” myself- not fun.
Anyway, I got back, and about 2 weeks later I had them tightened for the first time in 6 months- IT WAS BAD. I literally couldn’t eat anything for about a week except soup, and Motrin didn’t help much. A friend gave me a tuna fish sandwich that day and I couldn’t bite into it.
Well, that’s all over, cause I got them off last Thursday here at Ft. Irwin! The night before, I couldn’t sleep. I kept looking in the mirror thinking I will never have to see (or feel) them again. I got to my appointment an hour early just to make sure I wouldn’t miss it. I was more nervous than when I was being shelled by rockets in Afghanistan (I’m not kidding).
When the orthodontist was taking them off, it sounded like he was working on a car engine (lots of clanks, scrapes, etc.) but it was over very quickly. Then we spent a lot of time getting the glue off, and shining my teeth (the drill sound and feel is not fun, but then I thought, hey, I’ve had these things on for 2 yrs 3 months, I can make it through anything).
After it was done, they let me rinse my mouth out. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t stop smiling!! Then we made the molds for my retainer- it sucked a little, but I thought- hey, I’ve had braces on for 2 yrs, 3 months, I can make it through anything.
Later that day I had lunch, and for the first time in my life I bit into a potato chip with a perfect bite and it was heaven! My teeth felt soooo weird, but really good. Later that night however, I was really starting to feel some pain, but a few beers helped that! haha
Later that weekend, I went to see “Spiderman 2” and got a big bag of popcorn for the first time in two years. I have a temporary plastic retainer that I have to wear all the time now until the real ones are ready, and I will have to wear them for at least a year, and then probably at night for the rest of my life. But you know what? IT WAS WORTH IT. My God, I actually have a nice smile now. Just thought you would like to know.