As you read this, I will have just come off the radio (the BBC no less!) to talk about my experience with Incognito lingual braces. I can’t really believe that I’m going to be on national radio to be honest, hopefully I don’t totally stuff up. I’ll come back and add the link to the broadcast, unless I’m too embarrassing for words in which case I’ll just pretend it never happened.
So, this post is really a 9 month braces update, except at the 9 month mark I had my braces taken off. Exactly on time, exactly on budget. I was impressed.
At the appointment I had scheduled just before Christmas my orthodontist was happy enough with my progress that she decided the next appointment would be for debonding. She warned me to take a bit of time off work, book an extra long appointment so we could fit one fixed wire retainer at the same time, and to expect it to be quite uncomfortable.
My debonding appointment came around pretty quickly, and having thought there would be some sort of ceremony or preparation first (pictures? Party poppers?), it turns out there isn’t. My orthodontist gives me a serious warning, telling me this is going to hurt and to let her know if I feel faint, and then she sets straight to it.
She basically attacks each bracket with some sort of plier type contraction, and there’s a bit of pushing which, on my still wobbly feeling teeth, is a bit uncomfortable. But it’s not actually painful. I assume she’s just doing a preparatory round, maybe cutting the wires first before she pops off the brackets or something, but then I realise she’s lifting out my brace entirely and setting it on the tray alongside me.
Really? That’s it?
Part way through proceedings there’s an unfortunate slip up of the pliers which gouges the roof of my mouth a bit, but that’s really the only pain that I encounter during the procedure.
Once each brace is off (top and bottom) I’m given the opportunity to have a rinse and a rest, and get used to my teeth being my own again. They feel very strange, still quite wobbly, and very carpet-y.
Then we set to the cleaning. This lasts a good half an hour and is very chilly but otherwise uneventful. More rinsing; unfortunately my teeth still feel carpety but I’m assured this will go away in a few days.
At this point my upper fixed wire retainer is fitted, because my upper teeth are quite mobile and my orthodontist doesn’t want to risk them moving about now my lingual braces are off. Fixed wire retainers are thin wires glued permanently to the backs of my teeth which hold everything in place. I’ll also be getting some retainers to wear at night- they look like clear plastic trays, a bit like Invisalign I suppose. I’m only getting the moulds done for those today though, and they won’t be ready for a few days. Hence the need for a fixed wire on the backs of my mobile upper teeth today.
Fixed wire retainer fitting
First, my teeth are given another quick clean to make sure they’re ready for the fixed wire retainer. Then I have some interesting pool noodle type foam things stuffed between my lips and my teeth, and under my tongue. I guess this keeps things out of the way of the action.
I have something called an etching solution applied to my teeth, which I think slightly dissolves some of the enamel on my teeth, making the surface more receptive to the adhesive glue. This is rinsed off after a short minute, then the glue is applied to the back of my teeth using a tiny brush.
The wire is placed over the glue, which is ‘activated’ or cured using a blue light shone directly on it. A piece of orange perspex is held up over it which I’m assuming helps my orthodontist see what’s going on.
With one final rinse, I’m done with the fixed wire brace. I can honestly hardly feel it there – especially after the beasts of lingual braces have gone, this is nothing. I’m delighted!
Plastic retainer fitting
Just like at the start of the process, I have to make impressions in those trays filled with purple squishy goo. This is quite fun really, although because my teeth still feel so wobbly it does feel like she’s going to pull the lot out when my orthodontist removes the tray once it’s hardened. Of course, they don’t, because that would be a bad outcome.
I went back in a few days later to pick up my plastic tray retainers, which are just the most attractive things ever. Still, I don’t want my teeth to move so I will wear them no matter how strange they look.
All in all I was in for just under an hour. It really wasn’t as uncomfortable as I was led to believe, and I left feeling delighted to be free of the metal mouth!
Rinse… and repeat
2 weeks later, it’s time for me to go in again and have the fixed wire fitted on my lower teeth. But first, I have to pose for a set of photos to mark the befores and afters. When the orthodontist asks me to smile, I do so, completely forgetting to show my teeth. Doh.
The fixed wire retainer fitting process is exactly the same as for my upper teeth, and they have to take a new set of impressions of my lower teeth to make a new plastic retainer that fits over my wire. That’s ready for pick up a few days later.
I have another set of purple goo moulds taken to provide study models, and we’re done. No stress, I was in and out in under half an hour for this one.
- I was finding purple goo in random places for at least 24 hours after each plastic retainer fitting
- The carpet teeth did indeed wear off after about 5 days
- My teeth still feel quite wobbly; it’s 3 weeks after debonding as I write this and I’m increasing in confidence. They do feel a lot better than they were, but it’s still a work in progress.
- My speech is almost totally back to normal – any remaining change in my speech, I’ve realised, is due to my gap being closed. I mean, duh, of course it is.
Thus endeth my brace journey. It’s almost a year to the date that I went for my first exploratory appointment, and now I have the teeth I always wanted. If I’d known it would be that simple, I’d have had it done years ago.
People have asked me why I got braces – my answer? If there’s something you want to change about yourself, whether mentally or physically, and you have the means to do so, why wouldn’t you?
If you’re interested in learning more about getting braces as an adult, I highly recommend the site UK Adult Braces authored by my good friend Neil. It’s got a wealth of information from real people who’ve been there, written in a highly accessible way.