Brace Face

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People ask me almost every day “Why did you get braces?” “Your teeth were straight, you didn’t even need braces!” My personal fave, “I’ve never noticed that your teeth were bad before.”  So, I thought I’d share my story and explain why I started this journey.

 

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Before Braces, Allison Kuhn Photography

I’ve always had a nice smile, a pretty smile even.  I’ve never been terribly self conscious about my teeth.  I beamed those pearly whites without a second thought.  I always felt lucky that I never had braces as a kid and still had somewhat straight teeth.

About 7 years ago, I started to notice that I woke up with a tight jaw.  I didn’t think much of it.  It would stop throbbing soon after I woke up and wouldn’t happen again until the next morning.  I attributed it to the stress of planning a wedding.  One night, I was eating spaghetti and I bit down on something hard.  It was my TOOTH!  One of my molars had cracked and crumbled in my mouth.  This was alarming, I was eating spaghetti, not peanut brittle!  I went to the dentist immediately.  He said I had several cracks in my teeth.  Ummm, not cool.  What the heck?!  I am a self professed flossing nazi.  I floss twice a day, every day.  I have impeccable dental hygiene {pats herself on the back}.  Why are my teeth crumbling???  I have had actual nightmares about this.

Turns out that I was clenching so hard in my sleep that I was breaking my teeth.  I invested in several night guards over the next few years…so super sexy.  I even broke a night guard or two, I was clenching so hard.  It seemed to stop the damage I was doing to my teeth.

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Photo: askthedentist.com

I continued on this way for a while.  I switched dentists along the way, because I felt the dentist I had been seeing should’ve caught this issue long before my teeth started to break.  My new dentist, the amazing Dr. Lori Dominguez, suggested that getting braces might correct my clenching issues.   My bite was the issue all along.  This was outside of her wheelhouse, as it required more than Invisalign.

I needed an orthodontist that I could trust to do the right thing for me.  I knew exactly who to call.  I knew Dr. Marc Allen and his wife Shawna, socially and through a salon I worked at years prior.  We had kept in touch on social media.  I made the call and booked a consultation.  Check out their website and peruse the testimonials.

Consultation day arrived, I went through all the X-rays and discussed the financials.  Last was the chat with Dr Allen to talk about the plan of treatment.  Admittedly, I knew very little about orthodontia, so I was under the impression that I could somehow dictate terms on how long I was willing to wear braces, lol, I’m funny, right?!?  He educated me on what was happening in my mouth and what was possible.   The smartest course of action was to do a full service braces treatment.  (After seeing my teeth molds and looking at all the pictures, TURNS OUT, MY TEETH WERE PRETTY DARN CROOKED! I also had what they refer to as “black space”, which means I had a narrow bite for my face.)   He said fixing all of that, widening my smile, would help with my clenching.

Dr. Allen’s verdict:  2 years or possibly more in actual metal braces.  YIKES!  Like teenagers wear.  Visions of night gear and bad 80’s movies immediately came to mind.  I decided to go home, discuss it with my husband and sleep on it.

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Photo:Peralta Orthodontics

After going over the pros and cons with Brian, I decided to go for it.  It was a considerable expense, but luckily our insurance covered a lot of it.  I was really nervous about getting the braces put on.  Adult braces had never even been on my radar.  I was told that it would hurt, I might even speak differently, etc…  People love to share horror stories.

I had them put on in May of last year.  Brian thought I looked adorable, and hilarious.  It was so weird to have those brackets on, and they were definitely uncomfortable.  I had regular metal brackets on all my back teeth, and clear brackets on my front teeth.  The wire poked a nice hole in my cheek.  I did talk funny for a week or two.  My teeth hurt so much, like I couldn’t even bite toast.  Smoothies became my best friend.  I’m sure I lost a pound or two in those early days.  Thankfully, that pain only lasted a week or so.  I adjusted to my new routine pretty quickly.  The brushing and flossing took a bit longer than I was used to.  I’m obsessed with the Phillips Air Flosser.   It flushes out food so easily.  Also love DenTek flossers, for on the go.  I had a few mishaps in the beginning, broken brackets, wire issues, but Dr Allen and his staff took care of it.  Apparently, it’s all pretty normal in the beginning.

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Allison Kuhn Photography October 2016

So time has passed.  I’m over a year in.  I’ve worn rubber bands (they call them elastics, fancy) of all sizes and in various patterns.  My face shape and bone structure have changed.  I’ve had brackets moved, wires bent, teeth sanded, been in some pain, but I know when the time comes to take them off, it will all be worth it.  People don’t notice them as much now, and I even forget about them, until its time to have them tightened or adjusted.

I already see such a huge improvement to my smile.  They aren’t perfect yet.  There are still some kinks to work out, and I still have about 7 or 8 months to go.  When these bad boys come off, I’ll be rejoicing and shouting from the roof tops!  Prepare for pic overload.

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Megan Hitchens Photography August 2017

If you’re considering any orthodontic correction, its definitely a commitment.  Be prepared to invest a lot of time and money into it.  I think a beautiful smile and less clenching is well worth it.

Until Next Time,

Amanda aka “Metal Mouth”

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