After six weeks of being strapped into my new Six Month Smile braces, I feel fairly well initiated into the metal mouth “lifestyle”. And just like labor and delivery, there are things that NO ONE will ever tell you. You just have to experience it for yourself! Without further ado…here’s my list of things no one will ever tell you about what getting and having braces is really like.
1) When your dentist/orthodontist puts braces on, he or she will need to hold your tongue in place using a “tongue retractor.” Reason being is that they need to keep your teeth very dry to make the brackets adhere. This torture device — I mean, tool — didn’t work for me. It hurt to get into place! I have a very small mouth, so maybe that was the problem. Truly, I think the problem is with the guy (or gal) who designed the darn thing. If they can’t fit that in your mouth, they’ll use a large, soft rubber circle (looks like a huge bracelet) to prop your lips open. No pain involved there. I’d highly recommend you ask for that instead of the dreaded tongue retractor.
2) It doesn’t matter what you eat, stuff is going to get stuck in your braces. If you eat a salad for lunch, I guarantee you’ll find a piece of lettuce entwined in your back teeth later. Don’t even get me started on how pasta — or an entire chicken sandwich — can hide out for hours in your braces. Gross. Bottom line: bring a toothbrush to work and make sure you brush after lunch.
3) Your lips/cheeks will be stuck inside your brackets every morning when you wake up. It’s not pleasant, but as your mouth dries out at night, your lips and gums seem to find their way into your brackets. For me, it’s my lower lip. Your best bet? Make sure you put a bunch of dental wax on at night to protect those areas that are most susceptible to being pinched.
4) Your bite will change. I’ve gone through stages where I suddenly feel that nothing “matches up” anymore. Meaning, when I bite into my food, my teeth don’t feel like they’re meeting properly. I’ve bitten the heck out of the inside of my cheek a couple times. The reason for this is that your teeth are moving and shifting. And, the top and bottom aren’t always going to align perfectly as you transition to your new smile. A few days later, I’ll adjust to my new way of eating. Take smaller bites than you did before braces and chew carefully.
5) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — dental wax is the only way to survive. As you get more adept at applying it, you’ll use less and less. Buy stock in the stuff and don’t skimp!
6) Your teeth will ache randomly and then they’ll be fine a day later. I can only chalk this up to the fact that they may be adjusting to their new place — or they just may be shifting slightly. Take some Tylenol or Motrin (with food) and wait it out.
7) You’ll have to learn to floss a whole new way. Because of the wire going across your braces, you won’t be able to floss like you used to. Instead, your dentist or orthdontist will give you special floss that can fit under each wire. You’ll need to do each tooth individually. No one will tell you this before you get braces, but the whole maintenance and cleaning of your mouth takes a LONG time at night.
8) Speaking of, brushing your teeth is downright disgusting and challenging at the same time. You had NO idea how much stuff really was stuck in your mouth. Every time you spit out some toothpaste, a bunch of food particles will come out too. Of course, that’s the goal of brushing, but before you had braces, you never “stored it for later” either. It’s also a bit tricky to brush because you don’t want to pull on the wires or brackets.
9) If your toddler gleefully tosses her blanket over your head and then pulls it off quickly in a game of peek-a-boo, make sure you’re not laughing out loud with your teeth showing. It’s very probable — and downright likely — that a spare thread from the blanket will get caught in your front brackets and blow your mind with pain and she whips the blanket away. Ouch. Sorry. No solution to that problem here.
10)Your teeth won’t seem like they’re changing much at first, and then suddenly you’ll realize that your mouth looks just a bit different. Take photos and keep track of your progress. It makes a lot of the pain worth it! I’m documenting my entire experience at www.mysixmonthsmile.blogspot.com. It’s been great to see some changes and I feel like my teeth are moving in the right direction. Finally!