Braceface: My Journey in Braces

I can’t believe so much time has passed since I first got my braces. After 3 years and 8 months, I finally had them removed and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.

For most people, braces help straighten their teeth and they need maybe 1 or 2 years of treatment time. In my case, I had an impacted canine tooth behind my baby tooth. This baby tooth would have to be removed and the permanent tooth behind it brought out. I would need an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, and most importantly, time.

After my braces were placed, I saw an orthodontic surgeon who exposed the impacted tooth and placed a bracket on it. I then went back to my orthodontist who placed a gold chain (yes, real gold) to the bracket and tied a string (called power thread) to it. Every few weeks, he would put the power thread through the gold chain and pull it tight. With each visit, I felt the pressure of the power thread, but no real pain. This experience alone is why I sympathize with my teething children. That tooth cutting through the skin, however, was the worst feeling. I remember the skin protruding so much as the tooth was making its way through and taking ice to numb the area because it was annoyingly itchy and painful.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t a pleasant process. And my smile? I was a toothless mom for a long time. I rarely smiled and almost never took pictures.

After almost 2 years, the impacted tooth came into place. The orthodontist then removed the bracket from behind the tooth and placed a ceramic bracket to the front of it. It was aligned with my other braces on the front of my mouth and started to straighten as well. Over the next several months, I saw the difference in my smile and I was so excited to finally show my teeth again.

What’s Important to Know About Braces

  • Choosing an Orthodontist

When I first started shopping around for braces, I compared costs. Private orthodontist vs a chain dentist practice that offered orthodontics. I went with the lesser in cost of the two which was the chain dentistry. The cost difference was about $2000. Over the course of my treatment, 3 different orthodontists left that practice and were replaced by a new orthodontist who wanted to completely change my course of treatment. This delayed my completion date every time. We were living in Baytown, Texas at this time and when we moved back to the Richmond/Rosenberg area, I knew immediately where I would transfer my care. I’m so glad I ended up changing over to a private orthodontist, Dr. Mahlmann, who has been in practice at the same location for many years. I am so thankful he took on my case.

Lesson: You get what you pay for. This is certainly true with healthcare in general. Go with an orthodontist who has been practicing for a long time. Although it may be more of an investment, it will pay off in the long run.

  • Ceramic Braces versus Traditional Metal Braces

At 27 years old and just starting out my career as an ER nurse, I didn’t want my smile to be noticeable with metal braces, so I chose a clear ceramic bracket. However, the ceramic option was more expensive, almost $1000 more. Later, I would find out that it’s more difficult to move teeth with ceramic brackets, which leads to a longer amount of time in the braces themselves.

Lesson: Although the ceramic braces were less noticeable over these years, I would still opt for the metal. My treatment time would have definitely been much shorter.

I do still have a few brackets on just to make sure we close some small spaces up, but they are mostly gone. This journey has been incredibly long, expensive and time consuming, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Good bye, Brace Face.

May 12, 2015- January 15, 2019

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