Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jaime's Consultation #5

My fifth and final braces consultation was today. It was a doozy. I apologize in advance for the length of this entry. I never promised brevity!

Consultation #5 - Dr. M.
As soon as I walked in their office, I was mesmerized at how nice it is. It's clear Dr. M goes to a lot of work to make the office a comfortable place for patients. The waiting room is huge and there's video games for kids to play while waiting, coffee and TV for parents. They even have a little station set up so you can brush your teeth with disposable toothbrushes before seeing the orthodontist.

There were so many other neat "bells and whistles" about this place, it was impressive. However, I'm wise enough to know bells and whistles = $$$ and I wasn't too far off in that prediction.

This consultation was by far the longest and most detailed. They don't really seem to take the whole "consultation" word too seriously; they treat you like you've already chosen their office for treatment. For example, they take a "before" photo of you for your file, take numerous photos of your mouth, set you up on their rewards card system, show you around the office, etc.

We went over pretty much everything and of course, Dr. M suggested orthognathic surgery for my overjet. To my surprise, he suggested the palatal expansion, but he said I would need surgically-assisted rapid palatal expansion (SARPE) because I'm too old for just the mouth appliance to work; my skull bones are fused together at this point. I thought that was interesting as the ortho in Michigan just suggested the appliance, not surgery. He also said I'm a tongue thruster!

What's funny is that I've admitted to some of the doctors that I sucked my thumb until quite late and surprisingly (and sadly), their response has been, "Don't beat yourself up over it. You have so many other problems, your mouth would be fucked anyway!" I'm paraphrasing, of course.

Later in the day, I came back to the office to get some molds taken to send to the oral surgeon in London. It's looking like I'm going to get a consultation about the SARPE and lower jaw surgery. Unfortunately I couldn't get a hold of the oral surgeon but I found out from their other office that I might be able to get in for January, if not March. That means the actual SARPE surgery wouldn't be until who knows when, and I'd have to wear the RPE appliance for a few months before even getting braces. So basically I'm going to be about 85 years old before I have nice teeth.

I was quoted $6250 for everything, ceramic or metal (yay!). This of course does not include costs related to the oral surgeries.

A New Dilemma

When I came home, I felt really sad and defeated about all of this. 3 of the 5 doctors have recommended jaw surgery, one didn't mention it, and the other said don't bother with it. Initially I wasn't seriously considering it, but after getting my molds taken today at Dr. M's, I had my usual jaw pain because I held my mouth open for maybe 90 seconds. It would be nice not to have pain anymore, since I do contend with jaw pain regularly. Even just singing along to music gives me jaw pain.

I'm considering jaw surgery now for about 2 big reasons:

1. "No more half-measures" (thanks, Mike Ehrmantraut). Should I do the "quick fix" like some of the doctors have recommended? Or do I just suck it up and actually fix my problems? I never expected to have perfect teeth but if I go this way, I'll have a smile I'll be really happy to show off. It'll also impact my appearance slightly, too. My chin will stick out more than it does, and I'm sure even when my mouth is closed I'll look different because my upper jaw will be wider.

2. I think I can manage the time and resources to do this now. I have a generous amount of sick leave at work (thank you, PSAC), so I could take a ton of time off work to heal up. Also, they say part of the cost of oral surgery is covered by provincial health care. I don't know yet what that leaves as far as my own dental insurances. I'm not sure if this oral surgery would end up costing me that much and if it does, is it paid by my insurance separately from the $2500 orthodontist limit?

The big con of course is that it'll be months before I even get braces put on. I had been hoping to move to the next stage of this by December, not sometime in distant 2014. I know right now it seems so far away, but in the future, will I be happy I did the surgeries? I don't know.

It's also added expense, but the braces and everything will be happening at a time when I'm better off financially. My car is done being paid off in the spring, so absorbing added costs from oral surgery won't be so bad.

If this was a few months ago, I would have dealt with my disappointment by going to Arby's and ordering a ton of food (I have been known to eat 2 Arby's combos in a sitting). Instead I took a nap and then bought some sugar free candy, which I only ate a tiny bit of. The times, they are a changin', eh?

Andrea's Consultations #3 and #4

Consultation #3- Dr. T #2 (same as Jaime's Dr. T #2)

I was excited to meet this orthodontist as my sister and I thought he would be cheaper being in the US. He wasn't, though. I wasn't a big fan of this orthodontist. He didn't seem very "involved" with the consultation. By that I mean he just seemed too quiet. He looked at my mouth and just said, "Yeah, you need braces." Dr. T was friendly and chatted to my sister and me about Canada/Sarnia. This orthodontist didn't make me feel excited though about braces.

He also doesn't do ceramic braces, which is what I want. His estimate was the same as Jaime's, $5500.

Consultation #4- Dr. T #1 (same as Jaime's Dr. T #1)

This orthodontist was very friendly and professional. He introduced himself to me and shook my hand when he saw me. He checked my mouth out and explained in very much detail the whole process that I would have. Dr T said I didn't need to take any teeth out, although there would be a very slight chance I'd need one out. As Dr T explained everything, he sat almost right in front of me, made eye contact, and smiled. He seemed happy to help me. He shook my hand again as he left and told me he was glad he met me. In my opinion, friendliness goes a long way! He set me up with an assistant, who I had known from high school. The payment plan was figured out using a program on a computer so you could switch around numbers; unlike the other places that had sheets which were just prices handed to me. The computer was set up at a little table so both the assistants and the customers could view it. I liked that.

This ortho made me feel very excited again for braces! Dr T offers clear ceramic braces, which I am interested in getting. I got my quote for ceramic on the top teeth and metal on the bottom. My total quote was $ 5585.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jaime's Consultation #4 - Dr. T. #2

Consultation #4 - Dr. T #2

This morning Andrea and I went over to Port Huron, MI to get an American opinion.

The clinic was nice and quiet which is always a good thing to me. It's also less than 5 minutes from the Bluewater Bridge so even though appointments there would potentially be a bit of a hassle, it's still pretty close to home. Unfortunately their office is only open Mondays and Thursdays so I couldn't just schedule appointments for Friday after work and then head to Ann Arbor after. Definite con.

The orthodontist and assistants were kind of weird, and Andrea agreed. They wouldn't tell you where they wanted you to go/stand/sit but then say, "What are you doing?" or "Where are you going?"

This consultation was interesting. Dr. T didn't recommend jaw surgery to me, but instead said he wanted to put a palatal widener in my mouth and then do braces. It didn't sound like they wanted to take any of my top teeth out, unlike all the other dentists/orthodontists I've seen. I'm really intrigued by that, as I do have a narrow mouth. Unfortunately, they don't do ceramic braces at all.

Money wise, he wants $5500 for the whole shebang. They have the lowest down payment (but are flexible) and the longest amount of time to pay for everything. I had been hoping the American orthodontist would be cheaper than the Canadian ones, but this is right on par with our prices.

The Dilemma

I'm starting to feel conflicted about what I should do. I guess that's the problem with getting so many opinions. On one hand, metal braces don't need to be on as long as ceramic. But metal is more obvious, and if I get married in the next 2-2.5 years, I'd like to be able to smile with my teeth showing.

Except for the first orthodontist I saw (the first Dr. T), all of them have discouraged getting ceramic braces. They say they stain, they can pull some enamel off, and they are difficult to remove at the end. Those things worry me, and I wonder if stained ligatures and chipped enamel are really worth looking slightly better for 18-24 months. They're also more expensive, albeit not much. My sister is pretty much set on getting ceramic but I'm wondering if we should be listening to the fact that so many dentist/orthodontists hate them. Obviously, they're the experts.

I'm really, really interested in the palate widening idea. I have one more consultation next week, and it's with an orthodontist who does ceramic braces. Perhaps I'll ask him if the palate widening is something I can explore with him, as this orthodontist today is the first one to suggest it.

Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Jaime's Consultation #3

I had another consultation on Wednesday, this time with my own dentist, Dr. S #2.

I've been going to my dentist for a little over a year so it was nice to know what to expect as far as office and personality.

This consultation was less exciting than the first two, since I already know my dentist and I have an idea of what advice and costs to expect.

My dentist did a panoramic x-ray on me, then took a quick look at my mouth. I could have called out the notes to the assistant myself. "Class 2 malocclusion, maxillary crowding, mandibular crowding, overjet of 20 milimetres, some gum recession..." Next consultation I should try that and see what they say!

Anyway, my dentist has roughly the same opinion and price as the first two. He did start off his opinion by asking if the other 2 doctors I've seen were "scratching their head" after looking at my mouth. Wow, is my mouth really that bad?! I didn't tell him that Dr. T had been mumbling under his breath during my exam, asking himself whether he could even help me.

Option 1: Orthognathic surgery, then braces. My dentist seemed to think this was something I should really consider, whereas the first 2 were more or less iffy on whether I should bother. No price estimate (an oral surgeon has to do the surgery).

Option 2: Wisdom teeth out, then 2 teeth extractions from the top, 1 or 2 on the bottom, then braces for 18 months. He did offer ceramic braces, though he prefers putting metal on the back teeth (I hadn't considered this yet). $5500 plus "3-4 hundred" for ceramic, plus wisdom teeth extractions. Probably in the same $6200 range.

I was pretty certain I didn't want jaw surgery, but now I'm starting to wonder if I should get it at some point. I've been advised by all 3 dentists that I'll still have a bit of overbite if I don't get surgery. I think the smartest thing would be to go through with the braces and then decide on surgery afterwards (I was told that's an option). Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Getting Fit, Progress Update #2

Lots of posts lately! Hope you're enjoying reading them as much as I'm enjoying writing them.

This felt like a really, really long month. I came face to face with the realization that I need more patience with weight loss. Sometimes I know it's going to take months, other times I get frustrated because time seems to have slowed down.

November 7 October 7 September 7Total Lost
Weight 135lbs 140lbs148lbs15 lbs*
Bust 34" 35"36"2"
Waist 28" 30"31"3"
Muffin top 36.5" 38"39"2.5"
Upper thigh 22" 23"24.5"2.5"
*I started trying to lose weight on August 26, but I didn't start going low carb until September 6.

STEAK! Seriously, I'm in the middle of a top sirloin kick right now. My poor wallet.
Nuts (almonds mostly), pumpkin seeds, raspberries, brie, Babybel cheese, pepperettes, smokies, baby spinach, spinach salad, eggs (omelets galore)

This was definitely a protein-heavy month. I found myself constantly craving a big steak or eggs. It was interesting since in the past I've really only ever craved carbs, especially cake. I barely thought about carbs this month.

  • Some of my clothes are starting to get too big.
  • More people are noticing the weight loss, telling me it's very noticeable.
  • My favourite blouses from Dynamite fit nicely right now. I used to have to put double-sided tape between some of the buttons but now I can eat a big meal and they still aren't too tight.
  • I weighed myself less frequently
  • I beat my fitness goal during the month of October. I was active 18 of October's 31 days.
  • My running is finally improving...I've done a few 4-5 mile runs outside. I've also beat my old mile record, which is awesome!

  • I probably would have lost more weight this month had I not had so many cheat days. Thanksgiving, Halloween parties, Halloween all added up to me indulging in candy and sweets a bit more than I should have. I'm not too upset as I still want to indulge from time to time, but I think I do need to be a little more strict. I have very little self-control when there's junk food in front of me. I can rationalize the heck out of it before I'm even finished chewing.
  • I have a new found love of steak. I never really liked steak before but now a big, juicy medium rare steak could cure what ails me.
  • Drinking wine on a low carb diet is a really bad idea. Sugar hangover was very bad the next day. I don't know if everyone is like me, but sugary drinks make me pretty ill the next day. 
  • I started taking daily asthma medication (Singulair) at the end of September in order to control my exercise asthma. It started kicking in about mid-October. I feel a LOT better but still need my inhaler when I'm running.

  • I would really like to be down to 130lbs for Christmas. I know that now that I'm average weight for my height, that the weight will be slower to come off, probably getting slower each month. I need to be disciplined about candy/cheat treats if I want to make my goal.
  • My November goal is to exercise 9 times outside of my organized sports. 
  • I would like to focus a little more on strengthening my core.

Sorry, no photos...still feel a little weird about posting my half-naked self on the Internet. :(

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Andrea's Intro + Consultation #1

Hello, I am Jaime's sister, Andrea. I'm 22 and live in Sarnia. I spend much of my time working two jobs which are both with Lambton County Developmental Services group homes. Since I am a casual (part time) worker, I end up working many random shifts, day/evening/overnight. I like to spend my free time hanging out with my friends, boyfriend, and of course, Jaime! I like to relax by watching TV, movies, or reading. I have three cats that make me laugh daily. I love all different kinds of music. I buy a new album on iTunes almost every week! 

I've been wanting braces for awhile, but at first I didn't actually think I needed them. Growing up, my dentist never talked about braces to me, so I just figured my teeth were fine. As a kid, I also didn't realize the cost of braces, nor did I understand insurance. Some of my friends had braces and I remember just thinking, "Hmm that kind of sucks." 

As I got older, I realized that maybe I did need braces, but my teeth weren't too bad, so I didn't care much. It wasn't until I got a bit older (late teens) when I started noticing all the straight, perfect teeth of people around me. This was something I began to notice more and more as time went on. In photos of myself, I would think, "Jeez, my teeth look worse in pictures from different angles!!!" I can admit, at first glance of my face straight on, my teeth aren't too bad, but the bigger I smile or from the angle you are looking at me at, you can definitely tell my teeth are crowded. 

There is one picture in particular that made me decide I want braces FOR SURE. It is a picture of my boyfriend and me that his parents keep on their fridge, and all I can think when I look at it is, YIKES my teeth look terrible in that picture. Worst angle possible. I carried on to my boyfriend about needing braces and he kept telling me to stop worrying about it, my teeth are fine. I texted my sister right then and said something about getting braces. I thought, just go for it Andrea if it's really something you want. 

Jaime and I had discussed getting braces someday in the future many times before. It was just recently that we decided that we were going to go for it now! I was very excited to hear that Jaime wanted to get braces at the same time as me! What could be better than going through braces at the same time as your sister?! It makes the process that much better. 

I'm hoping with getting braces, my smile will look a lot nicer! Sometimes I feel like my crooked teeth make me look younger, so I'm hoping that straight tell with help me look my age. I'm also interested in getting my teeth whitened after the braces are off. Too many years of drinking pop and being too lazy to brush my teeth. My teeth are far from being pearly white! The only thing I'm worried about is the obvious: what will people think of me with braces as an adult? Is it going to make me look younger?

Consultation #1 of 4 - November 4/13 - Dr. S.
(Note from Jaime: This is the same Dr. S. as my Consultation #2)

I had my first consultation for braces today. It went okay. I wasn't fond of the dentist, but the quoting/pricing/treatment sounded average to me. One thing that was said was that I would need 4 teeth pulled to make room to straighten my teeth since my teeth are crowded. This makes me nervous a bit, perfectly good teeth being pulled out!! I'm worried how I would look between the time the teeth are pulled and until I can get the braces on. There will be some gaps in my smile! This is also an extra cost that I did not think about too. 

I was quoted $5500 for metal braces plus $600 for the teeth extraction (total of $6100). (Note from Jaime: Andrea says she wasn't offered ceramic braces, which is different from what this dentist told me.)

Next consultation next week! I am looking forward to it.

Jaime's Consultations #1 and #2

Yesterday was a busy day. Aside from working and going to my usual Tuesday night curling, I also had my first two braces consultations.

Consultation #1: Dr. T.

So far, the big "pro" for this orthodontist is the fact it's very close to my work (and home). The office is modern and clean and my appointment began on time (something I appreciate).

I was pleased that in several places in their office, they display a digital slide show of before and afters of their patients. Of course, all of them were kids, but some of them had way worse teeth than mine (and Andrea's).

After doing a (free) panoramic x-ray and side views and looking in my mouth a bit, I was told my jaw is steeper than the average jaw, and that if I ever want to fix everything, I'd need to get jaw surgery. Dr. T. didn't seem to think this is a necessity for me, as he said my jaw may revert to how it is anyway. With this in mind, I was given 3 options:

1. Have Dr. T. remove some teeth, then go to an oral surgeon for the jaw surgery, let that heal, then get braces for 2 years. Total cost approximately $10, 000. Ouch, literally and figuratively.

2. Get some teeth removed, braces for 2 years: $6200. This was the option the orthodontist seemed to think was best. I need to double check if the quoted price included tooth extractions.

3. No teeth extractions, braces for 2 years: "four thousand something."

Consultation #2: Dr. S.

The big pro with this dentist (he's not an orthodontist) is that it's very close to my apartment, less than 5 minutes driving.

The office was a bit older and busier, since it's a regular dentist office. A dental assistant of some kind took a look at my provided x-ray, then poked around my teeth a bit. She seemed to be looking at my gum recession more than anything, which was weird.

The dentist came in and his examination of my mouth and teeth was very strange. The best way to describe it was he was manhandling my teeth. He was pretty rough, pushing on my teeth and cheeks. He wasn't actually hurting me, but his hands were all over my face. I became aware of how ridiculous it probably looked and had to keep myself from laughing!

He presented 2 options:

1. Yada yada messed up jaw, I could get surgery but he doesn't think I really need it. Do that, get braces. No quoted price on that.

2. Get my 2 remaining wisdom teeth removed, then get 4 more teeth removed, then metal braces for no more than 2 years, "probably less." $6200. He said they do ceramic (which is what I want) but that he hates doing them and doesn't recommend them. That alone made me decide I probably won't go with this dentist. Personally, I'd rather have ceramic braces 2 years than have metal braces for 18-24 months. Maybe I'll feel differently once I have them, but right now that's how I feel.

I also had to pay $75 for that opinion. Whatever happened to "penny for your thoughts." Blah.

Tonight, my own dentist is giving me his opinion (hopefully it's free). I have a great dentist, but I'm anticipating he'll be the most expensive.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jaime's Braces Intro

Hopefully this post will backdate itself, but if not, sorry for inundating you with posts today!

As you know, I'm your loyal blogger Jaime. I have had ugly teeth most of my life.

My story is a bit different from Andrea's. Embarrassingly enough, I sucked my thumb throughout childhood (uhhh and teenagehood...). When I was 12 or 13, my dentist recommended to my parents that I get braces. I had a consultation done but when the big insurance question came up, the whole idea seemed to die a quick death. I had wanted braces pretty badly then but my parents wouldn't tell me the outcome of the insurance research. A few years later, they finally admitted the insurance wouldn't cover the cost of braces, conversation over.

I've always hated my teeth, since I have severe overbite and a lot of crowding. Some people have said my teeth look okay and that I don't need braces, but I dislike being patronized. I know my teeth are ugly, it's something I'm comfortable admitting.

I've since had another consultation but it was just before I left Iqaluit, and it didn't make sense at the time to get braces from an orthodontist in Ottawa (who visits Iqaluit periodically). I'd have to drive 16 hours round trip every appointment! Since then, I've put it off every year, waiting to feel like it was the right time to drop $6000.

Sometime since I moved back to Ontario, Andrea started saying she wanted braces. Late this summer, she finally said she was going for it. I talked to Anthony a bit about it and realized it was never going to be the right time, and I needed to suck it up and part with the money. Andrea agreed it'd be fun to get them together, since misery loves company, right?!

Here's the damage...

Unlike Andrea, I'm not too concerned what people think, especially since I'm planning on getting ceramic (clear) braces. I'm looking forward to finally being able to smile with my teeth showing, and not having to stress every time a camera comes out. I'm really glad Andrea and I are going to do this together, it makes an un-fun process a little more bearable.
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