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I have been misled. I have been lied to.

This week, I got a certain little present that I’d been wanting for a long time. The kind of little present I had to go and pick up.

From the dentist’s office.

My year of torture. 139/365

I have pretty straight teeth overall, but turns out I have this thing called a tongue thrust. (Say that again, P asked me when I told him about it.) That means that every time I swallow, my tongue pushes out against my teeth, eventually leading to this:

Artist’s renditon

According to the wikipedia article, most people grow out of tongue thrusting (I think P just asked me to say it again from the other room) by age six. I am aged thirty, so apparently I was absent that day in class.

It’s only gotten worse, so I eventually bit the bullet and spent the tax return to get the braces.

Except, you guys, throughout this entire process, talking to my dentist, all the hygienists in her office who have them, all the people I know who have used Invisalign in the past — not one person saw fit to let me know, gently, that braces HURT.

I didn’t think much about it, honestly. I figured legions of teenagers get braces every day. Sure, it hurts them, since the nice orthodontist has to go in and tighten some screws or something.

I’m not really clear on what happens with traditional metal braces, to be honest. P had them when he was a kid for like three years and he likes to tell me horror stories of headgear and this contraption in the roof of his mouth that had to be cranked open. I just… I don’t even want to know, okay? His teeth are nice and straight now so I pretend that they started out that way. But I was going to be different! My invisible braces were going to make my mouth feel like it was filled with clouds and sunshine. That is why I paid the premium.

When the dentist went to snap the first set of trays in, I stopped her. “Is the pain anything like traditional braces?” This is, true, an awful time to ask that question, since the braces exist and were paid for.

“Oh, no,” she said. “There’s a low-grade pain, but it’s actually better than metal braces. Then you have a lot of pain all at once. Here it’s spread out a little.”

Then she snapped the clear plastic trays on my teeth.

“Oh, that’s not so bad.”

“That’s because these are the trays that are just like your teeth are now.” Then she proceeded to put these chunks of ceramic or something on my teeth which are what hold the braces in. So now I have lumpy teeth. Luckily they are hidden.

Then we got to the real thing. It was a little sore, true, but I was okay. I would soldier on. I grabbed lunch on my way home and pulled the braces out first thing. This was going to be great! I ate my food that had texture and everything was wonderful. Braces were awesome!

Then I had to put them back in. As if I’m already not obsessive-compulsive enough, I have to brush my teeth every time I take them out. So I sang the brusha brusha brusha song and I shoved those bad boys back in place.

How I howled. My teeth did not want to go back into this new place! No, they were quite happy before the new regime. Eventually I heard the reassuring click and gulped down a handful of Advil. Did you know that stuff takes an hour to kick in? I do, because I watched the clock.

Things only got worse as the day went on. As soon as I went on break in my fiction workshop, I popped the braces out so I could eat a protein bar. This time, when I put them back in, I got tears in my eyes involuntarily. My teeth were clearly plotting against me.

So pretty much every time I’m faced with food, now, I have to make a decision: is this worth taking my braces off for? This is important, because every time I have to put them back on, I go through the seven stages of grief:

Shock or disbelief: My god, how can this hurt so much? I had them off for ten minutes!
Denial: There’s no way that my gums are going to put up with this. Maybe I should take them off.
Bargaining: If I take them off now, I will just have to add another day to the back-end. That gives me an extra twenty-two hours to be free!
Guilt: I can’t believe I spent all this money to be in so much pain.
Anger: Why are straight teeth so prized, anyway. I bet there are cultures in the world where picket-fence mouth are considered incredibly beautiful!
Depression: I’m never going to eat anything that’s not pudding textured again.
Acceptance and Hope: This really isn’t so bad! It’s only for a year and the soreness is much reduced.

The only problem is that when I get to acceptance, it’s time to eat again.

(originally posted at elizawrites.com)


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
Do you have to wear a retainer when you're done with everything?
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
I might. The other option is for the dentist to put wires behind my front teeth so I can push against them all day long and nothing will happen.
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
I was also going to say that I totally push against my teeth when I swallow. or almost always, really. My teeth are fine. Seems like a WEIRD explanation!
Feb. 26th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
I have had a lot of orthodontic work, and it was painful as a kid - but that's because my mouth was pretty messed up. I had massive crowding of my upper molars, causing a cross-bite.

I had the split-palate retainer thing your husband had, and then I had braces. One thing I learned from my orthodontist, is that fixing your teeth when get to be an adult, is more painful. The palate is still filling up with cartilage until about age 18 or so, so moving teeth and the palate when you are older will be painful.

When I had metal braces, I found that eating soft foods were the best thing to eat the day I had them adjusted. Blizzards from Dairy Queen were a lunchtime favorite!
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, that makes sense! I wondered why more adolescents weren't rebelling.

I am definitely on the soft food bandwagon. Even this morning, eating some cheese, my front teeth hurt.
Feb. 26th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
Hilarious post. Laughing at your expense, sorry. I could've told you that they would've hurt. Good thing you are getting them now. I got mine when I was a teenager and my roots are literally corkscrewed, so the teeth ever so gradually turned back. Looks as if I never had them.
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, I would be angry! How interesting that the roots are corkscrewed, though. Not good for you, but I didn't know that could even happen.
Feb. 27th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
I'm very self-conscious about my smile. My dentist/orthodontist was pretty surprised. They found out around the time they had to do some extractions to the put the braces on (I still had baby teeth that weren't moving quickly enough). I guess it isn't a common problem. Lucky me, right? I also had two wisdoms that never showed in x-rays that suddenly decided to pop up when I was 21. Because of bone loss they were creating in the jaw, I had to have those surgically removed when I was 31. My mouth has been a whole lot of fun, let me tell ya'.

I asked my husband for my 40th birthday if I could do veneers. Honestly, I don't know if it'll happen (I never had great looking teeth even when they were perfectly staight), but I can hope. How much is the Invisalign if you don't mind me asking?
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was going to add that my bottom teeth pretty much shifted back because I never wore my retainer.
Feb. 26th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
I have nearly perfect teeth, so I didn't have the pain and expense of braces. My brother is a different story. He inherited my mom's missing canine tooth (i think that's what it's called, the one 2 down from a front tooth), plus there was another set of teeth missing, so he had 3 empty spaces. Poor kid had to wear a retainer with a fake tooth post-braces til he was old enough to get a fake tooth implanted in his head -- can you imagine the terror he faced when he lost a retainer? Lest you think I got away scott free, I've been in glasses since I was 1.5 years old. So my mouth didn't cost my parents much, but I nearly sucked them dry for eyesight (tiny glasses in the early 80s were expensive!). I think I got the better deal on the pain front, but braces are a lot cheaper than glasses from toddler to the grave.
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Yikes! Your poor brother.

You got glasses much earlier than I did, that's for sure. I've had mine since I was eight or so. Are you a candidate for Lasik surgery? I'm not, but even if I were I don't think I'd go there.
Feb. 26th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
Nah. Vision is a small part of the problem. My problem was a lazy eye. Luckily they were able to fix it with glasses for the most part. So Lasik would help a little, but I'd still need glasses.
Feb. 27th, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
A friend of mine recently finished Invisalign. He spoke of discomfort, but his words didn't make me feel it the way yours did. He did mention that the trays get more comfortable as your teeth shift into them. Of course, shortly after you get there, you get a new tray and the cycle repeats.

And to answer a question from earlier, the final tray is your retainer.
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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )