It’s been a couple of months since I made a formal braces post, but this post will make up for it. I’m chatting about all the craziness that has happened over the last eight weeks – including spacers, power chains, expander-contraptions and most importantly… how to deal with frustration and managing your expectations regarding your treatment timeline (which may or may not go according to the initial plan). Let’s get to this big adult braces month 9 update and check out where I’m at…
Two months ago, I talked about hoping to get rubber bands at my next appointment and finish my treatment on schedule. I’ll cut to the chase here and tell you I am not wearing rubber bands yet and we are closing in on month 10. You can imagine my frustration, even though I was warned this would happen by many braces-wearers.
I had a complete breakdown after I left my last appointment and nothing was adjusted except the color of my ligatures – no wire upgrade (I’m already at the strongest rectangular wire), no wire ties on the brackets… nothing. Again, he told me, “Rubber bands soon!” But no further information… no information on what he was trying to do and nothing on what’s holding things up. I called my husband (who is a dentist (not orthodontist) within the same practice) and begged him to find out what the orthodontist was thinking because, at this point, I did not foresee myself finishing braces within 18 months. He called and spoke to him and we decided it would be best for me to switch to the other orthodontist who works within the practice for two reasons:
- The ortho I was currently seeing is a perfectionist – which is wonderful – however, he tends to go at an extremely slow rate. Apparently, most of his cases don’t finish before three (yes, *3*) YEARS. We didn’t realize this when I got my braces put on and I just don’t have that luxury of time. If I knew that it was going to be more than two years, I would have considered the clear ceramic braces to soften the blow of the look of wearing them so long…
- The office is over an hour away from my house. I don’t want to drive over an hour just to change the color of my rubber bands like I’m 10 years old. It’s a waste of a tank of gas, honestly, and we all know gas isn’t free here. The other orthodontist practices out of an office 30 minutes away. At the time that I initially got my braces put on, this 2nd ortho hadn’t been hired yet, so I didn’t have any other choices.
I was able to get an appointment with the new orthodontist the following week. He did my consultation and gave us what his treatment plan would be. He estimated that I have a solid 10-11 months left (19-20 months+, total). Again, I cried in the chair like a giant 31-year-old infant. I cried mostly because I was frustrated, but the silver lining was in the plan of attack he had for moving my treatment along quickly and safely.
He gave me a mirror and had my husband and I look at exactly which teeth were holding up the process (a couple back molars affecting my crossbite). He advised moving to a power chain on my top teeth immediately to start pulling them back. He recommended an expander-wire device (not your standard palate expander typically used in kids) for the couple molars in crossbite to expedite their movement. Lastly, to quickly come in with some heavy rubber bands to pull everything into place. This ‘expander’ to correct my crossbite would take about 3-4 months. From there, another few months to tweak things and then the ‘baking’ period. This was the first time in nine months that the doctor actually showed me what was really going on with my teeth.
I asked if I could finish my treatment with Invisalign once my crossbite was corrected (albeit, an added expense). He agreed that taking off the metal braces and finishing with Invisalign was completely doable and common practice for those who are deeply frustrated by the metal braces.
I felt lied to by my other orthodontist. I still don’t understand what his game plan was, but now I understand why I haven’t had any pain every time I got an adjustment. He was basically moving my teeth with pillows… SO slowly that there was NO pain.
Advice for others feeling frustrated
Insist on time to talk to your orthodontist at each adjustment appointment regarding what’s happening. I trusted that things were moving along on schedule until about two months ago. Don’t let your doctor make you feel rushed. Ask as many questions as you feel you need to understand which teeth are moving… why they are moving… how long it should take, etc. BE PROACTIVE. Had I not been told “Rubber bands soon” for three months, I probably wouldn’t have been so excited that things seemed to be progressing quicker than they really were. My doctor set an unrealistic expectation and I hope you prevent that from happening to yourself by speaking up more than I did.
If you’re totally miserable, ask what your options are. Maybe you’re also in metal braces and can switch to ceramic or Invisalign later in treatment (of course, finances may affect this option).
When all else fails, there’s no shame in getting a second consultation with another orthodontist within the practice or at another office. Don’t feel guilty that you’re ‘cheating’ on your doctor. When it comes to anything medical, doctors all have their own unique ways of treating patients and there is rarely only one way to get it done. Take ownership of your health and wellness needs – whether in orthodontics or any other field of medicine. Life is too short to be unhappy!
What’s happened since the last update
It’s been two months since my last formal update, so this will be a lot! Both top and bottom teeth are on their 2nd (strongest) rectangular wire. It’s the strongest wire they make before I am eligible for rubber bands – then I switch to a stainless steel wire. I went back to silver rubber bands for a month, but decided the navy make my teeth look whiter, so I put navy back on.
I have a power chain on my top teeth. A power chain is a long piece of rubber band that is attached to each bracket in one piece to help pull the teeth together and close up any gaps. They put these really
painful delightful spacers in between my back top molars to make room for this expander-appliance that is going to adjust my crossbite (the BIG hold up). It literally feels like I have popcorn kernels stuck between my teeth 24/7. I got fitted for the expander last week and will be getting it installed this Thursday. Not sure if I’ll be getting rubber bands simultaneously, or after a few weeks of wearing the expander.
apologies for the iPhone pic… but those blue things are the spacers shoved between my teeth that feel like popcorn kernels lol…
As for the pain… YES. After having barely any pain since the first month, I finally had 3-4 days of soreness with the power chain and spacers. I know this isn’t a reason to celebrate, but when you’ve been through my experience, it means things are moving and that’s a great thing!
My poor bottom teeth are just hanging out waiting for the top to get their shit together.
Here’s where we started 9 months ago:
Here’s where we are today:
Here’s the aerial shots:
My *new* estimated timeframe
(in my opinion, lol)
- expander + rubber bands to correct crossbite – months 10-14 (Sept. – Dec. 2016)
- possible switch to Invisalign – month 15-20 (Feb. – Jul. 2017)
I hope this helps those of you who told me you’ve been frustrated with the timeline changing for your braces. I also know I’m extremely blessed to afford to switch to Invisalign later in treatment. Orthodontics are so expensive and I’m thankful to have the family perk of having a spouse that works in the dental field. Don’t think I take it for granted – I totally get it.
That wraps up my excessively long adult braces month 9 update. Congratulations on making it to the end, lol. Let me know if you’ve experienced something similar or just give me an update regarding how your treatment is going in the comments or by email via firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be posting my next update Oct. 17 (month 11). Don’t forget, you can always search my braces posts by using the “Topics” drop-down on the top menu bar.
Happy Power Chains,