As of July 7, I’m 16 months into my braces journey. 16 months into this crazy process, I can honestly say that I’m not counting the months so closely anymore. Initially when I started this process, the orthodontist estimated 18 months. Spoiler alert: there is no way that I will be done in two months. No one ever wants to talk about much past the next appointment. As such, I don’t really know how much longer I’ll have braces. But I keep making progress, so I’m just trying to go with the flow.
When I wrote my first post about my first month with braces, I said that I would put together a little series of posts about my journey with braces as an adult. I’m not sharing monthly updates, full details about what I’m getting fixed, or lots of before/after shots. I am writing updates every three months, talking about the not so glamorous ins and outs of what this process is really like as an adult.
In that initial post, I discussed why I need braces and why I made the decision to get braces in early 2017 after putting it off since HS. In short, I finally took the plunge because I need a night guard for teeth grinding/clenching and can’t imagine wearing one with the way my teeth fit prior to braces. I’ve also finally reached a stage in my life where time, money, and general life circumstances (i.e. no upcoming plans for a move) allow for braces. So I went for it.
What’s been happening with my braces/orthodontic appointments the past few months.
Since my month 13 post, I’ve had just two appointments. The first one took place in late May. They took off my wires and did a full set of X-rays and scans, basically everything I had done before getting braces, except impressions. Then they put the wires on again. This process was lengthy. Taking off and putting on wires isn’t fun. But when you aren’t getting new wires, it isn’t painful afterward.
The second appointment took place just last week, in mid-July. I could have scheduled it in early July but between the 4th holiday and Tommy’s birthday, that didn’t happen. The new X-rays and scans allowed them to create custom wires that will (hopefully) be what finish out the braces process for me. I got the first set of custom wires at this appointment. I also got chains for both top and bottom. It was supposed to just be on the top, but I’ve had a new gap starting on the bottom the last couple of months. So I got a chain to fix the issue.
Getting the new wires wasn’t too bad. Some hygenists do a much better job than others minimizing the pain of opening and closing the brackets. This hygenist did a good job. Getting the chains did hurt. And there was a fair amount of pain afterward and a major setback in eating for about a week, which I was expecting. The hygenist always says something incredibly optimistic like, “You’ll feel those new wires a little bit, especially in the back.” I realize that pain varies for everyone. Maybe for some people, this description is accurate. All new wires are a major setback for me in terms of eating (it takes a week or so to get back to normal eating). At least at this point, I know that, so again, I was prepared this time.
What’s happening with my braces/orthodontic appointments over the next few months.
My next appointment for the second set of custom wires is in late August. The one other thing we did discuss at my most recent appointment is building up the top right lateral incisor (no, I didn’t know what it was called either, you can look it up) to fill out all the space I now have in my mouth. It’s noticably (though not significantly) smaller than the top left lateral incisor. This won’t happen until the very end of the process. It’s something I’ve know might be a possibility from the start.
While I’m sure it won’t be fun, it’s not nearly as fear-inducing as the teeth pulling I had at the start of braces. Also, they won’t space out the incisor to build it up until the end, minimizing the time I have yet another gap, which I really appreciate. (The orthodontist explained this to the hygenist, who didn’t seem very sympathetic. Seriously? Minimizing the time I have another gap in my smile is a big deal.)
Copyright: Melissa Morgan Photography
My creepy gaps are getting much less noticable.
In my month 10 and month 13 posts, I talked about and shared pictures of the creepy gaps in my smile where I had my teeth pulled. As the back gaps (where the teeth were actually pulled) have closed and the front gaps continue to close, the gaps are finally getting less noticable.
In my month 13 post, I mentioned that we were getting new family pictures taken this summer for our new adoption profile book (more on that soon). I said that if I saw a significant improvement in the gaps by the time we took these pictures, I’d be happy. I definitely am. The professional picture above is from said shoot in late June. The other picture above is from late May.
Copyright: Melissa Morgan Photography
Let me be clear that I do still have gaps. Let me also be clear that I’m not trying to knock anyone who gets a photo of me in which you can clearly see said gaps, even a professional photographer. It’s my reality, and I’m okay with it. I’ll be so so so glad not to have gaps anymore. But I’m still so happy with the progress I’ve made already.
Copyright: Melissa Morgan Photography
The last few months are the first time in my life I’ve ever felt comfortable smiling with my teeth in pictures.
I’m not saying this in a “oh poor me” way. On the flip side, I’m not saying this in a “fixing my teeth has given me all the confidence in the world” way. I do not have self-esteem or self-confidence issues. I’m also not trying to say that now I have an amazing smile in pictures. I am still much more comfortable behind than in front of the camera. I don’t know if that will ever change. But my comfort level has improved significantly.
The thing people don’t understand about having teeth that don’t fit together right is that it’s physically awkward to smile. It feels weird, and consequently, it looks weird in pictures. Telling someone to “just smile already” or something along these lines isn’t helpful. Now my teeth fit together right. I have room for all of them. Smiling in pictures feels somewhat natural. I’m sure that some of you are laughing. But this is a brand new concept for me. And I still have braces on my teeth. I can’t even imagine what it will feel like when they’re off.
I haven’t had any major issues with eating lately.
Aside from the temporary setback after the first set of custom wires, eating has been good the past few months. I have started eating the occasional raw carrot, mostly because I miss it so much. It still has to be an occasional thing. I am avoiding raw celery and for the most part, raw apples. It stinks, but these are the only major food aversions I have at this point that affect my day to day eating.
I’m eating pretzels (thin pretzels, not super crunchy pretzels or pretzel snack mixes), almonds, peanuts, cashews, cereal, kettle chips, tortilla chips, granola bars, and popcorn in moderation. I recently tried Skinny Dipped Almonds on Jessica’s recommendation. It’s a good thing that I need to eat chocolate in moderation anyway because they are so good. I haven’t snacked on almonds in forever. They’ve been a nice change of pace for late afternoon snacking.
Again, my next appointment for my second set of custom wires is late August. I’ll write the next update after I’ve had the appointment after that (most likely sometime in mid- or late October). Posting every three months has worked well, so I’m keeping to this schedule.
To those who are sticking with me, reading these lengthy updates about my experience with braces as an adult, thank you. If you have personal experience with braces as an adult, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.