Elastics wreaking havoc on braces
February 6, 2019 7:22 AM   Subscribe

My teeth are all messed up since we added elastics to my braces a few days ago. Please tell me your stories of similar orthodontic disaster.

So I have had braces for the past ~ten months (having had them as a teenager already; wear your retainers, people). With the last adjustment, my teeth slid into what felt like basically perfect alignment, though it depended a little on how I closed my mouth. Admittedly, the canines on one side would hit each other occasionally if I closed my mouth a certain way, but overall it was good. The final step (to make sure I'd close my mouth the right way every time and not have those canines make contact) was to put in elastics. This was to pull the maxilla back and the mandible forward and perfect the bite.

Instant disaster. I spent all weekend in so much pain I was popping the opioids (don't worry, people, I'm not addicted. Pain is gone now so the opioids are happily chilling in their bottle). More importantly, within hours my bite was entirely out of wack. The only remotely comfortable position for my mouth (and by "comfortable" I mean "uncomfortable but at least it didn't hurt as much") was to jut my mandible so far forward I had an enviable underbite. My teeth were clenching constantly. It was impossible to close my mouth normally -- the teeth no longer lined up at all. I could (and still can) only make contact on the right side of my mouth, and poorly at that.

Of course this kind of thing happens to me on the weekend. Of course. I called the ortho first thing Monday morning, and he said it was due to my muscles spasming; it's not possible for teeth to move that much in less than five hours. He also says it's an extremely rare reaction (lucky me!) He proposed two courses of action: A) I take off the elastics, let my teeth go back to where they were before they went on, and we live with the bite as it was. It wasn't perfect, but perfection may not be possible, and it was good enough. B) I have some leftover Bromazepam and Ketoprofen from a muscle spasm in my shoulder two years ago because in France they give you entire bottles instead of the tiny number of pills you need. He wasn't against my trying to relax the muscles this way.

We opted, after weighing various options, to try option B first (with consultation from the pharmacy. I'm not entirely irresponsible, y'all. Only slightly irresponsible). I have now done two days worth of Bromazepan/Ketoprofen. The only difference is that my mandible no longer has to jut forward all the time. Contact (poor contact) only on the right side. All the pain is gone; I can even eat crackers again.

I don't really have a question beyond this: someone please tell me that they have had this happen to them. How did it all work out? Did you continue with the elastics, and if so, how long di did it take to resolve? Did you give up and just live with slight imperfection? My orthodontist is awesome and I trust him (he came recommended by my equally awesome dentist, who teaches at the dentistry school for that matter, and he's treated pretty much everyone I know, including some serious cleft palate cases). I'm supposed to keep him up to speed and we'll see what happens over the next few days. I just want to know I'm not alone. Or that there's some hope for the elastics (otherwise I'm giving them up so fast it's not funny).

Many thanks.
posted by CoureurDubois to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Hello fellow adult orthodontics elastics wearer!! So much fun, aren't they? If you're on facebook , there's a group called 'Adult Braces Support Group' which often has some good insights, if not just general camaraderie around the braces thing. You could also ask there if you were so inclined.

I haven't had this specific issue, but the one common thing with all this orthodontic fun fun is that the everything is temporary - I think you've already noticed that. Weirdness and alignment issues and pain only last until the mouth adapts - or the next tiny shift and then it's a whole new thing to deal with. I'd personally give it a couple more days. If you're still on pain killers after a week then yeah, maybe elastics in that particular configuration wont work for you, which sucks. But a lot can settle down in a week. But there also might be more the ortho can do - when my original elastics config caused "too much mobility" (read: wiggly teeth!) in my canines, they fashioned hooks onto the wire instead of using the hooks on the canine bracket, for example. Maybe there's another approach your ortho can look at if this one really becomes a no-go, because orthodontics is definitely not an exact science.
posted by cgg at 7:40 AM on February 6

Yes, the common rule has been that if he says, "This adjustment won't hurt much" it's going to hurt like a motherfucker.

I remember the pain being this bad as a teenager (worse, really, because I had lesser drugs back then), but I don't remember this much overall hassle and agony.

Facebook: why didn't I think of that?
posted by CoureurDubois at 8:15 AM on February 6

You have my sympathy. Mouth pain is awful. I just finished reading Raina Telgemeier's autobiography, Smile, about her trials and tribulations with teeth and orthodontia for a book group. Many people who had their own tooth issues found it relatable and validating. The book is aimed at middle school kids but I read it with a mixed-ages group of adults and everyone got something out of it.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:30 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]

Is it possible that using weaker elastics would help?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:02 AM on February 6

Those exist?
posted by CoureurDubois at 10:04 AM on February 6

They totally do! The ones my ortho had came in packs with different weird animals depending on the elastic strength. I was wearing Komodo dragon elastics for a while before we stepped it up to something stronger, iirc.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:04 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]

Yes, ask your ortho about a weaker elastic. When I had them, he would start me off with a thinner one and then we'd gradually get to the thickest one. My teeth would feel sore with each new one for a few days, then wear off, then feel sore again with another new one. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to be in excruciating pain.
posted by thelasttango at 3:49 PM on February 6

It turns out the pack of elastics I have has a ram on them. They say they're 6oz, 1/4". For now we've opted to take the elastics off and let my teeth go back to where they were a week ago. I'll ask about the elastic size next time. Thanks for the tip.
posted by CoureurDubois at 9:59 AM on February 7

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