Let me take you on a journey that started one year ago.
I’ve had jaw trouble for quite some time now. Not the normal locking, TMJ stuff. It was different. Whenever I exercised I got a charley horse in my left jaw it was super uncomfortable. I chalked it up to dehydration or some other excuse. But one day I had a jaw muscle spasm so bad and it didn’t stop. If the contracting muscles don’t relax for several seconds or more, the pain can be severe, and it was! This incident made me call the dentist and better yet, I called a highly recommended dentist in my area for a new consult in hopes of becoming a new patient and switching offices.
The Start of it All
The X-rays from my visit showed that my left jaw bone was almost totally worn flat. It was apparent I am a “clencher” and I’ve been deteriorating my bone for years and years. Next we talked about braces to fix my bite and lessen the impact the clenching is doing to my muscles and bones. I had thought about braces almost 15 years ago for cosmetic reasons and never went through with it. The dentist told me that if I didn’t get braces to correct the issue there was a very good chance that in many years from now, I’d end up with horrible jaw pain and would probably need a gum graph to fix some gum tissue that is getting worn down. It seriously sounded like the future could be hell, not to mention my jaw muscle were still spasming.
My next visit was with an orthodontist in town. My dentist and orthodontist are married and I actually love it! I know they have great communication and are on top of all the new trends in these fields. My 9-year-old daughter sees a different orthodontist than I do. Yes, it’s weird. I really felt that Dr.Allison Mantel knew the best way to fix my teeth and I never got a second opinion. Originally there wasn’t much of an estimate as to how long I would need braces. I opted for the clear ones which are made of glass. I also had clear rubber bands the entire time– I was never brave enough to get pink or blue or any other color. The time frame estimate in my chart said 18-months and in my head I gave myself 12-months. Honestly, there was really no way to tell in the beginning how long it would take.
Dr. Mantel did outfit me with AcceleDent, a Vibratory Orthodontic Device clinically proven to speed up orthodontic treatment and reduce discomfort by up to 71%. Yes, I do believe it worked (not with discomfort)!! I followed all the instructions and my braces were off in about 10 months. [happy dance]
I won’t sugar coat my experience. It was painful on so many levels. My teeth moved extremely fast and I cried HUGE tears leaving that office for the first month– and this was just from changing rubber bands and wires. I felt like a baby with all the tears and need for a soft diet (mostly vanilla malts and wine). There were a few times I swore at the poor assistant working on my mouth. It was not a pretty experience but it’s what I had to go through. I still struggled with looking at myself in the mirror and hating what I saw. I had food in my teeth all the time and struggled with eating in public. Ten months went fast but when I look back, it went pretty slow some times.
Should you do it?
I can’t answer this question for you but I can offer up my raw truth. It truly depends on how bad you want a perfect smile. What would having that smile meant to you? Do you have jaw problems like me? Will not getting braces cause a much larger problem in the future for you? That’s the boat I was in. I knew that future damage would be far worse than anything I would go through for one year of my life.
I had braces, you want Invisalign? Yep, that works on most accounts too. For me it wasn’t an option. I needed my back teeth moved in a direction that Invisalign wouldn’t have been able to correct. Right now I have two clear retainers that I need to wear 24/7 for 6 months (unless I’m eating, etc). This is basically what Invisalign is and I’m not sure this is any better. Taking them in and out to eat all the time– it’s a tight fit and messy! You can still see them on my teeth and the process can take longer. It’s also super important to wear them 24/7 or else it doesn’t work as fast.
So I think if you need or want to have adult braces, do it the real way. The community was always my cheerleader. People would say the kindest things ever to me! It really gave me a newfound sense of strength and confidence. In some situations I had to put on a full metal-mouth smile and grin like I owned the world. I was uncomfortable and scared but I did it anyways.
It’s Finally Over
I have a splint to wear while I sleep to keep my teeth straight and to help with the clenching. I’ve also thought about going back to physical therapy to make sure that I’m strengthening my jaw muscles and moving in a forward direction with that issue. It was a crazy ride this past year but I did it.
If you decide to have adult braces— you can do it!
One thought on “Adult Braces: Should I?”
A great post Erika, thanks for sharing this useful insight and your experience.