My name is Lynn and I am the owner and editor of ArchWired.com. I took photos and documented my orthodontic journey, which lasted almost 3 years. I went from having an open bite and crooked crowded teeth to a beautiful new smile.
First, a few photos of me during my treatment, starting with the outcome.
Here is a photo of me, two years after my braces were removed. After my braces 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:
This photo was taken two months after treatment began:
My Treatment Photos
A close-up of my teeth, the morning before I got my braces:
Uugh 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 six months into 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 wire 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).
One Year of Treatment – Chains and Elastics
I’m 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 a triangle.
My 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!
I 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.
One Year, Four Months of Treatment
One 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
Eighteen 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.
Dr, 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.
You 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 Treatment
Twenty one 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!
The 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 gone!
Two Years – The Final Countdown!
I 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.
There 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 things perfect.
Two and a Half Years – Any Month Now!
I 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 2004! Yea!
Two and Three-Quarter Years – Still Waiting!
We 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!
Well, 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.
New Fillings and Bonding – I’m All Done!
In 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.
Then 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 dentist.
Now 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!
…compare this to the pre-treatment photo, taken three years earlier:
I 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!
Best of Luck to you in your own self-improvement journey!