Friday, December 16, 2016

No More Braces!

Well, it's time for a braces update! Sorry it's kind of long-winded, that's just my way and you should know that by now!

Shortly after my last post, I woke up one morning to find that left molars were making just the slightest bit of contact. I was shocked, to say the least. We continued trying to pull them together until October, when my orthodontist agreed that it was probably as good as it was going to get, and it's getting to be time to take the braces off and just accept imperfect results.

I had another appointment in mid-November and I was so excited and nervous about whether he'd bring up removing the braces. At the very end, he said they were ready to come off any time, so I wanted the next available appointment! They actually had the next day but cautioned me I'd just had an adjustment so it's better to wait. In the end, I waited 13 days and those days dragged so slowly.

I was kind of hoping I would get a specific assistant at my removal appointment because she's always been so nice and supportive. She's been working on me since the very beginning. I remember she told me when I first got started in 2013 that they have some patients that they just know are going to have a really beautiful smile, and I was one of those people and she was looking forward to seeing my results. Fortunately, she was assigned to me for my removal so I was happy about that.

I'd read several blogs, talked to people I knew who had braces, and watched several videos about the removal process so I would be prepared. In the end, I felt like the process wasn't as bad as I'd heard. There were only a few moments of pain and they were over quickly. I had forgotten to take ibuprofen beforehand and I was fine.

When I finally got to look at my naked teeth about an hour after the start of the appointment, my teeth looked HUGE! I had heard other brace faces say that about their own teeth and I was convinced I wouldn't think that. I think it's just the shock of seeing so much unobscured white. Speaking of white, I was also shocked to see I had zero staining from the braces. I had always just assumed I would need to do a round of whitening afterwards because of how much black coffee I drink. I also didn't think I did that great a job of brushing, but the assistants told me I'd taken good care of my teeth. I do have one cavity, where one of the molar bands was.

I spent the rest of the day in Sarnia seeing people I knew and enjoying food! It was very strange eating my first meal sans braces, which I did very soon after leaving the orthodontist. It was just as weird as the first meal with braces, but the opposite feeling of weirdness, if that makes sense. It felt amazing. I love chewing without braces, it's still a novelty to me.

Two weeks later, I picked up my retainer, a purple Hawley (the kind with the wire). I decided to purchase an Essix (invisible tray style) to wear during the day because I have to wear a retainer 24/7 for the first year, and I am sick of having metal on my teeth.

Aside from that fun, I am still battling jaw pain and tightness, which I have been since the surgery. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes my jaw clicks relentlessly while I eat, and sometimes it doesn't at all. I would have to say that as far as TMJ symptoms, it become quite a bit worse since surgery. I probably need to go back to my physiotherapist and start actively working on stretching my jaw more.

So after all this, things aren't perfect. My left side still doesn't make contact other than my canine and my second molar. I think my surgeon should have tilted the left side of my jaw down since I have a slight cant. The right side of my lip lifts up noticeably higher, making the cant look worse. I will post a photo that shows both of these things. I am a little disappointed by these things and I do think I should have gotten a second opinion before I had the braces taken off. I don't regret not getting another opinion, but it will always be a "what if" in my mind.

Overall, I am happy I went through everything and I am happy despite falling short of the expected perfection. I am a little self-conscious of my wonky lip but I honestly doubt most people will ever notice it. Mostly, I'm just glad to be done. So. Freaking. Glad. I just want to get back to a place in life where I'm not thinking about my teeth all the time. At this point, I've spent considerable time thinking about my teeth every single day for three years. One could argue that it's not emotionally healthy to be so focused on something like that for so long.

The very first no-braces selfie I took!


My new friend, Hawley. We'll be going to bed together every night for the rest of my life.


Retainer smile.


Here's where you can see that my lip isn't symmetrical, worsening my slight cant. It wasn't from surgery; it's been like that for years.


Before and after


And here's some of the garbage I went through to get where I am now:

The day I got my RPE installed, but before any treatment had actually begun. RPE = hell. This is THE "before" photo!


Hey Jaime, The Gap called...


Two days post-op from double jaw surgery + sliding genioplasty


Trying really hard to smile two weeks post-op.


Elastics prison.


Now you'll find me staring at my teeth in any reflective surface I can find!

I did two vlogs recently as well. One right before I got my braces off, and one the day after. Here they are:



If you're reading this in the future, feel free to ask my questions about SARPE, braces, and/or jaw surgery. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

I also recommend acquainting yourself with ArchWired which has been an invaluable part of this process for me. Check out the Metal Mouth forum while you're there. You may even run into me on there, I'm still an active poster and probably will be for awhile.
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