This year, I decided, would be the year of doing things I’ve always wanted to do.
I’ve always wanted to close the gap. Yes, the gap in my teeth.
For no particular reason, I hate it. I just can’t stand it. I know that plenty of people look awesome with gaps, like my beloved Grannie, but I’ve got it into my head that I’m not one of them. And once an idea is in my head, good luck getting it out again.
So I decided to get Incognito lingual braces.
This is my face before. Note: I didn’t specifically take posey pictures just so you could all look at my gappy teeth, I was updating my LinkedIn picture as it was horribly out of date and this here’s one of the offcuts.
What are Lingual braces?
Well, I’m no expert, but basically they are train tracks that go on the back of your teeth. Because I’m just closing the gap at the front of my teeth, I only required the ‘lite’ version of the brace which goes around the back of the front 8 teeth in my mouth. Incognito is just a brand of lingual brace, and mine were made in Germany.
Why Lingual braces?
I opted for lingual braces because I already get mistaken for a teenager frequently, and whilst in normal life that’s not such a big deal, for work it’s more of an issue. I work in business consulting, which means I’m often meeting new people, and I need to gain their trust and respect as quickly as possible in order to do my job effectively. This is not going to happen if they think I’m the work experience girl. (Note: my extensive smattering of grey hairs has not helped with this one bit. The one thing they’d have been useful for!). And I figured nothing says teenager quite like train tracks.
So I thought braces on the backs of my teeth would be a good solution to this problem.
Where? How much?
At the end of the treatment, providing all has gone well, I’ll give you details of where I got it done, pricing, the works. For now that feels like jinxing it so I’m going to keep the details close to my chest. I will say that because I only need the lite version, I found the price to be fairly reasonable. It’s still significant, but it was less than I was expecting to be honest.
My braces should be on for the next 9 months, so I will let you know how I’m going periodically and give you a final summary at the end.
My experience: the fitting
I arrive at the orthodontist’s office. She is ready to go and we are both cheerful. Let’s do this!
First, my teeth are cleaned. It’s like a full on car wash for my teeth. It’s a little cold and noisy but nothing too bad. I think if you had sensitive teeth this might be a bit sore.
Then my teeth are sandblasted. Yes, actual sand. This is weird but not unpleasant. I’m glad for the protective goggles.
After this, my mouth is clamped open with cheek retractors and my tongue is held back by some kind of weird contraption. I can’t describe it, but it didn’t hurt. I’m sure I looked a treat, though, and swallowing was difficult.
Straight away the dental nurse comes at me with something that looks a lot like a syringe and needle. I recoil, but she assures me it’s just a cleaning gel. It is. Panic over. More teeth cleaning, then my teeth are dried. They’ve got to be super dry for the glue to bond so there’s a lot of suction going on and I’m pretty sure I spot a tiny squeegee like object.
Next, the plastic mould of my teeth containing the actual brace brackets with glue on is wedged onto my teeth. It’s a tight fit.
The glue is activated using a bright blue light. I think it’s UV because the dentist is shielded using some orange perspex. I decide to close my eyes. This bit is quite relaxing.
Things take a turn for the uncomfortable when the plastic mould has to be prised off. There’s some worrying cracking noises that I hope aren’t my teeth, but nobody seems worried so I assume there’s no problem. The mould doesn’t want to come off so the pushing and pulling gets a bit intense, but it’s fine in the end.
Then repeat the drying, moulding, lighting and prising for the upper teeth.
Finally, the wires are fitted. This isn’t uncomfortable either although there’s a bit of pushing and pulling, and because they’re tight (to rearrange my teeth!) it makes my teeth ache a little bit.
After that, we’re done. My weird retractors are taken off, I have a final rinse, and get used to what feels like 10 tons of metal inside my mouth. I try speaking and it’s hilarious.
The whole shebang took less than an hour, and I’m perfectly fine to walk home again afterwards.
A few hours later
The prophylactic ibuprofen and paracetamol I took are wearing off so my teeth are beginning to ache, and the appointment was over my lunch hour so I didn’t eat. I’ve lost my appetite because my mouth just feels so weird. Plus, I can’t actually close my teeth together because the brackets are in the way. So I’m not sure how I’m going to chew food for the next 9 months. For someone who likes food, this is a bit of a scary thought.
I have a work phone call which I lisp my way painfully through. I sound absolutely ridiculous and have to come clean to my colleague who is very understanding about it.
After coming off the phone I realise that speaking has taken its toll on my tongue, which has been cut to shreds from the new brackets in my mouth. I’m assured my tongue will toughen up in time, but until then I’ve been given something called gishy goo (what a name) to put on the troublesome brackets. It’s the weirdest stuff but I try my best to paste it on all the trouble spots.
So I find some mush to have for my lunch, and try not to freak out. Of course I find horror stories of people who have had to have their lingual braces taken off after a week because they just can’t eat, speak or function. I’m not feeling good about this, so I eat a bowl of ice cream and have a little mope.
We have some people coming round for supper, so I confess to them about my new teeth as well. We all have a good laugh about my trouble speaking, but I’m genuinely quite worried. I have to go to two pitches for work next week, and if I can’t speak properly I’m not sure what they’re going to think of me. The reason I got lingual braces in the first place was so it wouldn’t affect my work, but if I can’t speak then that’s even worse than looking like a teenager
Still, I managed to eat my Thai curry pretty well and my chocolate cake/pudding slightly less so. I think I’ll just need to eat a lot of liquid foods for the next few days at least.
At bedtime I work my way through the extensive kit of toothbrushes, special floss, pipe cleaner type things, inter-dental brushes, etc that I was given and try and work out what to do with each. I get about halfway through the bag and give up. It’s been a long day and I’m exhausted.
24 hours later
The orthodontist and I were worried about how I’d sleep, because I clench my teeth quite seriously in my sleep. She was worried I’d snap the brackets right off, because the brackets prevent me from fully closing my bite; I was worried I’d snap my teeth right off.
Thankfully, neither happened and I actually had a pretty good night’s sleep. I did have some painkillers before I went to sleep and coated the brackets liberally with the goo which I think helped. Maybe the braces will finally break my habit of clenching?
This morning I’m feeling a little better about the situation. I’m still quite lispy but I had another phone call which didn’t go so badly, and nobody seemed to notice anything amiss.
I’m hoping that with a lot of practice over the weekend, I’ll get a handle on my speaking and won’t totally mess up the pitches next week. If you see me this weekend, expect me to be muttering “she sells sea shells on the sea shore” under my breath, over and over and over. Whilst making weird shapes with my mouth. And then laughing at myself. Totally normal, no?
So, in summary, I’m feeling a bit more positive today. Cautiously.
Have you ever had braces? What was your experience?
Linking up with Kristin and Joey for the last ever Stuff and Things. Thanks for hosting such a great link up, I’ve enjoyed participating when I can. Sorry to link up such a weird post for the last one but… This really is what’s going on with me right now and I’m finding it hard to think about anything else!