I'm doing it, this time for real

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I'm doing it, this time for real

#1 Post by pedas »

Hello! As the title suggests, in the wake of a new decade and a huge turning point in my life (I’m no longer a student!), I promised that I would carefully consider the things I wish to do in my life instead of deferring for a more opportune time (an excuse I’d often use) because the consequences felt more palpable.

Among said things are my teeth! I had traditional metal braces for roughly a year and a half about seven years ago; standard treatment to correct crowding and elastics for an overbite. I wasn’t entirely sure that I was happy with my teeth at the time of debanding, though I was a 17-year-old with a crush on someone eventually became who became my boyfriend so it didn't matter then... win-win? Anyway, I had a retainer bonded behind my upper and lower teeth, thought I was invincible, would seldom wear my upper hawley retainer (I'm sure many of us are familiar with this, may we never repeat the same mistake again)... and then my wisdom teeth became a problem.

My wisdom teeth grew in sideways and while I haven't received official confirmation, I believe they did exactly what my teenage orthodontist assured me was only a myth: they pushed my teeth forward. Of course much of the onus is on me for not removing them five years ago when advised to instead of eight months ago when they began erupting nearly three years ago (and the whole retainer thing). Whereas I was known for smiling big and wide in photos, I've recently found myself smiling just as wide, only without showing teeth. With an acute fear of dentists/hygienists/orthodontists, seeking out an appointment takes a lot of courage (I've done it once before but never followed though in scheduling the appointment), and I believe regaining the confidence I once had in my smile is a really solid way to chart my life as a "real" adult (for the record, the only thing that has changed since I graduated is that I drink less Red Bull, remember what happiness feels like, and I pay more in taxes).

I have three consultations booked in the coming weeks and I was looking to detail some of my concerns:
- My bottom incisors touch the glue from my bonded retainer on my top teeth, my bite has sunk deeper and is less comfortable when at rest;
- My bottom teeth tipped in towards my tongue, my molars no longer sit on top of each other like puzzle pieces;
- I cannot open my jaw very wide, indicative of possible TMJ problems;
- The cost is huge, and while I do have benefits, they're only about half the cost of what traditional braces for a year may cost;
- A few cosmetic concerns from previously mediocre IPR (most orthodontists performing IPR will "smooth" out a tooth so it looks natural; I felt as though my orthodontist took sandpaper between my teeth at a 90 degree angle, ran the drill, then strapped a power chain on); and
- I have begun to show promise as a young expert in my field so I'd prefer a minimally visible/fixed treatment plan to avoid being perceived as any yonger/naive or furthering my confidence loss.

All that to say, if you have any advice for me about becoming a better advocate for myself as a patient (or in life in general, we're all more than just a concerned smiles council!), I would love to hear it.

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Re: I'm doing it, this time for real

#2 Post by djspeece »

Congratulations on your decision! I sit on the opposite end of the runway, aged 69 and have been debraced for over 3 years after a 3 year course of treatment. Your concerns are quite legitimate, of course, and I think part of your decision on the selection of an orthodontist would be based on how well they listen to you, and how they plan to address your concerns. My orthodontist was very interested in these types of details and I believe it helped him plan his overall approach. I would recommend that you simply lay it out to him/her the same way you have in your post in the initial consultation, when they really have to make the time to talk to you :lol: . Have an idea of the end result you are seeking -- cosmetic vs. functional, perfection vs. acceptable.

I have encountered and managed many rising stars during my working years and loved working with them -- they tend to keep things real, and had lots of great ideas. Of course there were a great many less-than-great ideas, but that's to be expected -- you can't hit a home run every time you come up to the plate! The ones who seemed to do the best were able to look at the world through my eyes as well as the customer's - they understood the challenges and restrictions and previous approaches and took them into account for any proposal or solution. They had thick skin, for there is much resistance to change and the dinosaurs will scoff (applies to everyone, not just young employees with good ideas). They had to be persistent and find ways around objections/hurdles. Your advantage is that you are already recognized as a rising star, and have established credibility. The other thing is that most people will not even notice that you have braces -- you'll see that comment over and over on this forum. It's hard to believe, I know. (And even worse, they don't seem to notice when they come off!) I guess people are not really into my personal issues as I would have hoped :lol: .
I have a hunch that many of your colleagues will secretly admire you for your courage in making this huge investment in yourself. Some may ask how you came to the decision.
As far as cost goes, your ortho may have financing or some creative ways to handle the cost. Consider it an investment.
Best of luck to you!

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. -- Buddist saying

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