Realistic expectations for the braces I'll be getting for my teeth
October 21, 2015 8:35 PM   Subscribe

I am 35, have a long list of issues with my teeth including overcrowding, overbite, alignment issues, etc. Now that I can "afford" to get braces, I will be getting them next week. But now I am almost terrified. Help if you have or had braces as an adult. Not invisalign.

I will be paying a pretty penny for Damon Clear braces. They are tieless (what exactly does that mean?) and have a pretty decent satisfaction rating according to a few sources. I'll most likely have them on for two years

But now I'm realizing that I will probably be in pain for a while, have sores on my cheeks, won't be able to eat "regularly" for a while, will need wax and piks... I will need to pick shit out of my teeth in the bathroom at work (gross)... eating in front of people will probably not happen anymore (food stuck in my teeth all the time).

So, basically, I am having second thoughts. I would love to be able to smile or laugh without covering my mouth because of my shitty crooked teeth... plus they would be easier to clean once they aren't crowded and overlapping. But I'm started to freak out... not to mention the work I've had on my teeth in the last two years and the implants I'll be getting is about the cost of buying a new car.

So, how bad can I expect the pain? - I was told to take some Advil before my appointment. I'm wishing I still had painkillers left over from my oral surgery.

Any specific products/tips/foods I should prepare for or to purchase over the weekend? Am I overreacting?
posted by KogeLiz to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and was it worth the money you spent?
posted by KogeLiz at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2015

I had braces a couple of years ago, couldn't complete the treatment because of other issues but yeah the tieless braces are much better than the regular ones I had as a teenager. First of all, invest in a WaterPik, you'll need it. And become used to rinsing your mouth after meals.

For the pain, Advil is mostly enough, the worst part is the first few days, you can get some soups and foods that you can easily chew. Nothing you have to bite.
The pain at check-ups is generally more tolerable.

Yes they were a good investment, even if I could only keep them on for 10 months instead of two years. Even like that, they made a difference.

(Oh and tieless means you don't have to get the little rubber bands in each brace changed at each checkup. Less stuff on your teeth so it looks better and feels better.)
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:48 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tie-less: braces consist of one strong wire connected by brackets (one on each tooth). The wire pulls your teeth into shape and thus has to be adjusted gradually every week or two as your own teeth move. In the olden days (1980s, when I had braces) the wire was connected to the brackets by teeny tiny rubber bands. (I guess those are called ties?) Looking at the Damon braces, it looks like there are instead components on the bracets that allow for the adjustment of the wire without the ties? The internet tells me "The elastic ties tend to "swell" with bacteria." Who knew? I guess that's why the ties had to be changed each week. I just thought it was because they stretched out. Downside of not having ties is that you won't be able to get COOL COLORED ties that match the current holiday/your favorite color/ your high school team's color.

Because you are LITERALLY MOVING YOUR BONES, your teeth will be kind of sore after the first few days. Not, like, sensitive to hot or cold. More like achey at the roots, like you have a loose tooth. Nothing major, but I wouldn't be eating beef jerky or anything the first couple days. You definitel won't need Vicodin, exept for maybe after the very first appointment.

Also, the wire can sometimes pop out of the bracket holding it onto your back tooth and poke you in the cheek. I only had braces on my bottom four teeth, so I could usually fix this myself, but it stull hurts.

As for wax, I actually highly recommend Orthosil instead (made of silicone, so softer). When I was a kid you could buy it at Walgreens.

No one will care about food in your teeth. Buy some L-shaped toothpicks or those tiny pipecleaner-looking things to get underneath the wire. Keep a toothbrush at your desk or in your daily bag. You'll be FINE. I promise no one will care.

ANECDOTE: My family was poor as hell and my dentist was like 80 years old (he also gave my Mom braces when she was a kid). Once I was eating pizza and I bit down on the slice and my buck teeth* landed perfectly on my braces (bottom teeth) that it broke one of the brackets off. My mom was too poor to take me to the dentist to get it fixed for a couple of months, and so now that tooth is crooked compared to the rest of them. GREAT INVESTMENT!

*I also got a retainer for my upper teeth but was too lazy/vain to wear it as a teenager and so my teeth are hella imperfect now. Sometimes I think about getting them fixed (I am also 35) but I figure fuck it. If it worked for Freddie Mercury it can work for me.
posted by Brittanie at 9:14 PM on October 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

I had old-school braces for 3 years that I also paid for myself. It gave me a sense of pride to do so, and also made me more accountable about taking good care of them (no gum, no nuts, no sticky candy) because it was on me to have to pay to fix any broken brackets/wires.

Your teeth will be sore after an adjustment, but you really won't need anything stronger than Advil. Taking it in advance of an adjustment is a good idea. I found my teeth felt oddly itchy right after an adjustment, but it stabilizes after a day or so.

Soft foods like eggs, buttered noodles/pasta and soups will get you through. Get in the habit of drinking more water. It will help keep your teeth clean and I felt like I got less mouth sores when I was well hydrated.

It's easier to eat if you cut your food into bite sized pieces. I would even cut up things like sandwiches so I wouldn't have to pull food with my front teeth.

I think all the discomfort and effort was worth it. You really will smile more, and that makes for happier people I think. :-D Good luck!
posted by dorkydancer at 9:24 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

A Water-Pik will help you keep them clean. Aleve, naproxen sodium, is my go-to for all dental pains. Good luck!
posted by irisclara at 9:53 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have braces right now, with exactly the same system as you — the Damons. Honestly, they're So Not A Big Deal compared to what my expectations were going in. Yes, they do ache a little for a few days after you go in and get a wire changed, but it gets better as you go through your treatment. So by the fourth or fifth time you get them changed, you're used to it. Same thing with the sores on your cheeks; they're pretty bad the first month or so, but stock up on wax to use when they're in overdrive. Eventually (I think it took me two months) your mouth adjusts and they're gone, just like that. And if you're careful you can eat crunchy foods like nuts — just go slow. Seriously, it took me three or so months, but I forget that I have braces all the time now. Big change from when I first got them and I looked at my mouth in the mirror at night and thought, OH MY GOD, WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I DONE? Now I feel like getting them was one of the best decisions I've ever made so far. It's like night and day.

A tip: stick to acetaminophen (Tylenol) to manage soreness and pain after wire changes — there's some evidence that ibuprofen (and other NSAIDs, including aspirin and naproxen/Aleve) can mess with the bone regeneration process and slow down the rate at which your teeth move.

You will have to take super duper extra good care of your teeth, like never before. Seconding getting a waterpik. Seriously, GET A WATERPIK. I feel like owning one's almost mandatory for anyone with braces. There are also rechargeable versions to take with you when you travel, or to keep at the office, etc. Braces harbor a lot of gunk if you don't clean them out real well, not to mention that they make it harder to clean your teeth. So you might want to consider having professional cleanings more often — say, every three instead of six months.

Also, depending on your treatment plan, you might have to get your brackets removed and a new set put on at some point midway through your treatment. This has to do with the alignment of your roots and ortho will have you get X-rays periodically to see how they're tilting. Just something to keep ahead of. Oh, and the great thing about Damons, as others have mentioned, compared to more old fashioned braces is that you have to go in far less often — right now, I'm sitting at about six weeks between visits. No losing or having to change the little rubber thingies either, no staining, etc.

Best of luck!!
posted by un petit cadeau at 9:59 PM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've had braces for the last 26 months (six days to go!) and honestly, it's been fine. They hurt for a couple of days when they were put on but after that, apart from the occasional sore where they've rubbed, I haven't had any pain. I would advise taking a toothbrush everywhere and checking your teeth after you eat but you can usually feel when there is food stuck in them. It cost me AUD 6,000 and it's absolutely been worth it - I can't wait to not be ashamed of my smile for the first time ever.
posted by Wantok at 11:02 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh and I also had a lot of overcrowding/alignment issues that made cleaning difficult and had been worsening - if I hadn't got the braces I would still have been spending the money in the future to keep them in my head and avoid dentures.
posted by Wantok at 11:10 PM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had braces for three years as an adult prior to maxiliofacial surgery. Huge old fashioned metal ones. It was no kind of deal whatsoever, even in the last year when elastics were added to the mix.

I had them adjusted every six weeks. The first two or three times there was a mild ache afterwards, but nothing that I could be bothered to take even paracetamol for. After that, no adjustments hurt at all. I never had a single sore on the inside of my cheeks or side of my tongue or anywhere.

The first day I tried to eat immediately after having them put on, it felt weird, like I couldn't remember how to chew. The second day everything was back to normal, and I looked no different eating than I did pre-brace. I quickly learned the new food rules, such as to avoid anything that goes sticky or claggy when you bite into it and therefore gets stuck in the wires of your front teeth (bread was the worst for this). I just learned to break this sort of food up and put it into my mouth to chew with my molars instead, not really a problem. Just carry a toothbrush for brushing at work if you're worried (my usual cheapass plastic toothbrush worked perfectly well - I bought no special equipment for cleaning at all), but I found nothing really got stuck and if it did, a swish of water was all it took.

Nobody else cared about my braces (just as no-one else ever cared about my crooked teeth) and in a really short time I forgot they were even there. You'll be fine.
posted by Acarpous at 3:56 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had old-school braces as a teenager and then Invisalign a few years ago--my teeth shifted and I wanted to avoid future major dental problems. Totally worth the time and money spent (and I'm saying that even having chosen the orthodontic option that was more expensive and took longer). Drink smoothies on adjustment days. Bring a toothbrush everywhere. You won't regret it!
posted by trixie119 at 6:10 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did about 18 months of braces and am actually going to get them back on after 6 months off since my jaw has shifted and my ortho wants to fix my bite (everything looks fine aesthetically but my bite is connecting mainly in the front). Your jaws will be achy for a few days but do mashed potatoes, softer foods until you adjust. I found that after about a month my cheeks/lips got used to the braces and didn't really get sore spots after that. If you feel like you're getting a hotspot where a wire is rubbing against your cheek, try to prevent a sore by putting wax on the offending bracket/wire and reapplying when needed.

I also liked the waterpik, floss picks designed for braces, and the Dentek wire mini brushes for helping with cleaning. Basically no one other than myself really cared that I had braces, but I think it was worth every penny and the annoyance/effort.
posted by tangaroo at 7:12 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had white porcelain braces while in university - I felt old when I had them. Had four teeth pulled too, to make room. Absolutely 100% worth the cost and pain, for smiling with confidence and for biting clean through foods. Having braces that aren't so visually apparent made the ordeal much more bearable. Not visible in photographs, and most people didn't really notice them anyway.

Pro-tip: Take frequent sips of water while eating - swish it around your mouth to help clear away food. Helps deal with a lot of the food in your braces before you can get to the bathroom, so you don't have to feel mortified and worried while eating with others.
posted by lizbunny at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had braces twice - once as a teenager in high school, and once as a young adult because of a jaw problem. When I was a teenager I found them excruciatingly embarrassing. As a young adult they were annoying but really a non-issue. I did not have major pain - just some soreness. I did not have issues with food in my braces. You know, I was a grown up, it kind of sucked, but I just dealt with it because it was a thing I had to do. No biggie.
posted by bq at 9:12 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had braces as an adult and I don't regret the decision one bit. Yes, your mouth will be sore - that's a given. For the first few days after I got mine, I hated life. Just take some Aleve and eat soft foods and you'll be ok. You will get used to it and your mouth WILL stop hurting - I promise.

Nthing the Waterpik recommendation as well as the mini brushes for trapped food bits and wax for sore cheeks and lips. After you get the braces put on and after each adjustment you'll only want to eat soft foods and soups for a few days, then you can go back to eating your "normal diet". There will be a list of food and drinks you'll want to stay away from (they should give you that in a pamphlet). No Ribs, corn on the cob - basically anything hard you have to bite through. I learned to cut my food (even pizza) into bite-sized pieces and ate everything with a fork or spoon. I was very careful so as not to break a bracket or snap my wires.

One thing I wish someone would have told me is that YOU HAVE TO KEEP WEARING YOUR RETAINER. I wore mine for years and then decided I could probably stop. Big mistake! My bottom teeth shifted and now one tooth is crooked. Ask your orthodontist if you are a candidate for permanent retainers. My ortho never told me (or maybe they weren't invented back then), but I wish I had them. Look into it!

Good luck! Your smile will be beautiful soon!!
posted by ATX Peanut at 12:55 PM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

It probably would have been better if I'd had them as an adult, because as a kid I didn't appreciate them and thus wasn't conscientious about wearing my retainer afterwards leading to a second set of braces after which I was still spotty about wearing my retainer leading to me being an adult with crooked teeth. I'd like to smack my younger self! I see adults with braces and my thought is, "How cool that they are doing that for themselves..." Don't worry.
posted by cecic at 1:40 PM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Should I quit my boring job for a lower pay but...   |   Lighter mysteries to read aloud in hospital Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.