Enter the Braces: Top Row Edition

This will be the last time I floss my teeth like a normal person, I thought at my reflection in the bathroom mirror yesterday morning, jaw unhinged like a striking rattlesnake and fists shimmying on either side of my mouth.

I swished my tongue over my teeth as I made the turn onto the orthodontist’s office’s street. Smooth teeth, I bid you farewell. I shall see you… well, in a mirror, in a sec, but after that, au revoir!

Teeth sans braces

Brace yourself! (This awkward smile is brought to you by my soon-to-be-removed spacers.)

I used the handy-dandy check-in computer, watched approximately 17 seconds of a home makeover, and was beckoned to the receptionist’s desk to begin the signing of papers and payment process. (God bless the receptionist, because I definitely said things backwards and accidentally caused more paperwork for her when I realized my mistake.) We chatted about the list of things upon which one must alter one’s surname when one gets hitched (the receptionist is engaged to be married in October). I actually had tips to share about the process!

The Tech of Spacer Domination was assigned to be the Tech of Spacer Extraction. For as much trouble as she had getting them in, they sure popped out easily. Once a pristine white, they were now only partially pristine. The tasty, tasty homemade pizza I had Monday night had done ’em in (*mentally adds pizza sauce to the List of Colorful Foods to Avoid Like Whoa*).

The tech brushed my teeth with a gritty substance, which was not unlike getting Panama City Beach sand in one’s mouth (as opposed to the larger grains found on Sanibel and Captiva Islands). I got to go spit this out and give my sans-braces teeth one last look. Deuces, teeth. Deuces.

Then began the search for the perfect bands. That was pretty wiggy. The concept of a rounded rectangle of metal being slipped over and between my teeth had the mental feel of fingernails on a chalkboard, but it wasn’t quite as traumatic as that. Once they were fitted, the orthodontist came over to examine them, remove them, and replace them—this time with the fixative. He had to shear a little bit of the bands off to prevent my teeth from hitting prematurely. Hearing a tiny, not-as-high-pitched-as-you’d-think whirring in your mouth in an interesting experience. He stated that he really enjoyed beginning new treatments, but I was so mesmerized by the grinding down of the bands that I missed the rest of his sentence.

“Rock on,” he said in approval as he examined the finished bands.

Bring on the brackets!

Now, I’m one of those crazy individuals who doesn’t mind going to the dentist, but the bracket placement process made me a little batty. The tech inserted a lip guard, a large, plastic contraption that clears the lips from the teeth (makes sense). What I didn’t expect was the protuberance that acted as a tongue guard, preventing me from flattening out my tongue. That was mildly disconcerting. My gag reflex didn’t engage, but it was lurking.

Breathe through the nose. Breathe through the nose. Close your eyes and… hey, you can kinda nap! This is awesome. Breathe through the nose.

Thank goodness for those tubular moisture vacuums. “I gotta make sure you don’t drown,” laughed a new tech (She-Hulk Tech had been called upon to assist with another patient with teeth that were more difficult to deal with than mine). I gave her a grateful thumbs up and tried to grin around the lip guard, but I think the grin just looked like I was squinting in pain.

On went the brackets, and out came a little wand that shed what looked like ultraviolet light. It was like a nail salon had been built in my mouth, and all of my teeth were getting solar nails. Harden, fixative, harden!

Once the brackets were secure, the tech handed me a metal ring bearing all the color choices of the “o” rings / bands. My mind immediately went to “Which is the most outrageous?” I held up the bright purple and hot pink. Ten years ago, I would have freaked out at the idea of choosing something so girly. I can guarantee you that Ten Years Ago Me would have chosen black, silver, or gray. Possibly navy blue.

“I’m gonna have to go with hot pink,” I declared, handing the ring back to the tech, adding, in my best Andy Samberg voice, “’cause I’m an adult!” (She took this in stride, fortunately. And laughed.)

Welcome to my mouth, hot pink bands. Oh, hello, archwire! It’s good to see you! I’m glad that they curved your sharp ends. I’ve heard pain-filled stories about wire ends.

And voilà! I have my top braces!

Teeth be braced!

BEHOLD! The braces. (Awkward smile perpetuated by metal bands.)

It’s been over 24 hours since my mouth met its new, spiky roommate, and so far, I think I have to declare the move-in a success. I’ve neither broken them (*whew*) nor gotten food wedged in them (*double whew*).

Flossing is… a new sort of animal. It’s definitely much more time-consuming than I’d anticipated. I was given a packet of little floss threaders (they look like thin, curved, plastic needles), and I must say, without those babies, I would have despaired of ever flossing my teeth without wincing and saying “oops” every few seconds.

The Rundown

  • What’re your orthodontia accessories? The top row of braces.
  • Band color? HOT PINK. Because I am a mature adult female with a corporate job.
  • Any pain today? Uh… a little in my two front teeth when I bite down into foodstuffs.
  • What sort, would you say? Light soreness—much less sore than my upper abs (do those have a name? surely they have a name). Pressure from my front teeth to about the middle of my forehead is the more dominant sensation.
  • Do you miss anything? Chewing normally and without paranoia. (I think this level of high-strungness will pass once I become more comfortable with the hardware.) Oh, and chips. I had to pass up both tortilla chips and Fritos at the potluck. *tear*
  • Looking forward to anything? Being a little more brave with my new eating habits and mastering the art of flossing with braces.
  • On the bright side… I’m not speaking with a funny spacer-induced accent anymore!

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