On May 7 (3 days ago) I got my braces off, two years to the day from when I got them on. Tomorrow is 5 months since I had surgery. It’s been a long two years and a bit of a roller coaster ride. From early days of waiting for insurance pre-approval, to months of agonizing insurance ups and downs after my teeth were ready, to finally the months of recovery.
At the Orthodontist:
The staff at the orthodontist office were all so pleased for me, telling me over and over again how great my teeth look. I was asked if they could post my before and after pictures on Instagram, and pic on Facebook.They even sent me a card and a certificate in the mail afterward with my before and after pictures.
The process itself of getting the braces off was pretty painful, which I was expecting. I had brackets pretty far back, I have sensitive spots (more than I knew), and I still have tender cheeks. After over an hour of popping, wrenching and grinding, I made it though. I just felt relief that I survived this far. One of the nurses told me I was glowing. 🙂
I have two of the tiniest retainers I’ve ever seen. The bottom teeth have a permanent retainer, which is just a small wire glued to the front teeth only. In fact, it’s only glued to the corner teeth, which is even better. Much easier to clean around than my old one which had gobs of glue on each tooth. The top retainer is basically for my front teeth only. I only have to wear it at night (~8-10 hours). This is great news. I do not have to keep up with it during the day. Ever. Yay.
Here is my status at 5 months:
Eating: I can eat anything I want! My teeth were sore due to all the trauma of brace removal, but that is lessening. It is still hard to chew some things and my jaws get tired if I chew a lot. Sometimes I accidently chew the inside of my cheeks. Sometimes I drip when I drink if I’m not careful (probably related to the lingering numbness).
Numbness: I am still numb in the upper corners of my mouth. Also most of my upper jaw is still numb.
Pain: Where the feeling is coming back in my gums they are very sensitive. The tenderness in my back cheeks has slowly started to go down a little bit in the last week. If I press at the very back of jaws it does still hurt. Not sure why.
Mouth Health:I’m not too happy with the state of my mouth. My orthodontist actually recommended I see a gum specialist and said I may need gum drafts. To be fair most of my gum issues were from my 20s, but it doesn’t get ever just get better. Also my tooth enamel is not in the best shape as a result of being banded. I am working hard to get and stay mouth healthy.
Just strange: My tongue seems longer than my bottom teeth. If I put it behind my teeth, it feels squished. It does fit mostly behind my upper teeth, so it usually ends up there, then I hold my teeth slightly open in a resting position.
Image: I think I have finally gotten used to how I look in the mirror. It seems normal to me. Not long-time, familiar-face normal, but a you’re-really-not-that-strange normal. Some days I feel almost pretty.
So anyway in spite of the lingering recovery issues, I am doing really well. I do feel immensely relieved to have made it this far. When I looked in the mirror at the orthodontist, it didn’t even look like my teeth to me. What are those perfectly aligned teeth doing in my mouth?!
My next steps are teeth cleaning in a week, retainer check in 5 weeks, and surgeon after pictures in 7 weeks. But I am free and clear.
Here are some before and after pictures. I tried to find comparison pictures with basically the same angle.