Hello fellow readers! As the title states, I recently got braces and I just wanted to kind of share my journey and the how’s and why’s that lead to this decision.
18 years without brushing my teeth
Yes, it sounds disgusting, and looking back I’m surprised I wasn’t made fun of more in school. In my defense, I was not raised to take care of my teeth. My parents didn’t have dental insurance, and with four kids, they weren’t going to pay out of pocket for something they did not deem necessary or detrimental to my health. Without diving completely into the hell that was my childhood, let’s just leave it at the fact I was not taught to brush my teeth. A little bit of mint flavored gum for bad breath, and Advil for a toothache. Going through school, you could imagine how uncomfortable I was showing my smile to anyone. Being a young girl surrounded by classmates with perfect pearly whites, it was a big blow to my self-esteem.
When I moved out at 18 and became more “aware” of my health, I began to brush for the first time. I had moved out to live with my boyfriend (my husband now). It shows to his true love that he loved me back when I was at my worst. Now, I’m not going to lie, incorporating something into my everyday routine after not doing it for 18 years, I was bound to be inconsistent. While it was a step in the right direction, I’m sure I was still brushing half-assed, and I wasn’t flossing. I continued like this for the next couple of years.
The Toothache that broke the camel’s back
I first got dental insurance when I started my current job back in 2013. In my mind, while I had it, it was like vision insurance. Unless something was bothering me, it was there as a precaution, only to be used when I actually used it. (Don’t judge. I was still young and stupid, thinking my money was better spent elsewhere.) By this time, I had gotten much better at brushing my teeth on a daily basis, and while my teeth were definitely whiter and healthier looking there was still so much damage that brushing couldn’t reverse.
All was well until last year, January 2018, the toothache of all toothaches steamrolled through my mouth. With my current job as a trainer, I have to be able to communicate to coworkers in a clear and sufficient way so as to be understood. That toothache made it damn near impossible to even roll out of bed and I spent much of my days cringing in discomfort and cradling my aching jaw. After spending nearly a week like this, I knew I had to face my fear and call the dentist for the first time.
First visit at 25 years old
My biggest concern in all this wasn’t the pain. I mean, I have endured years of endometriosis, I could endure a drill in the mouth. No, my biggest fear was the inevitable judgement. My teeth were still discolored, cavity riddled, and crooked as hell. I was scared of the disgusted looks and the lectures about having had done this sooner. In the end, though, I just couldn’t take the pain and so I knew I would just have to endure in silence and hopefully hide my humiliation until I got home where I would be able to bawl myself into a coma.
Needless to say, my first visit I was a ball of nerves. To top it off, I had to face it on my own, which was not ideal. Going back and hearing the drills in the other rooms and hearing the praise to the patients about how well they are cleaning their teeth did nothing to calm me. When I was finally strapped (sorry I mean sat) into the chair, the dentist came in and told me to open wide. After a brief exploration of my mouth, and a few painful xrays later, I was told I had an infected tooth……and a boat load of cavities.
To my surprise and utter relief, there was no judgement. No lecture about cleaning my teeth. Nothing but professionalism and understanding on my circumstances (I had explained why this was my first time). Now the reason why I love my current dental office is the fact that my appointment was used to only treat that tooth that was bothering me. They did not lecture me that I should have my cavities filled. They did not look down on me for my crooked teeth.
Although, in reality, they didn’t need to. If I was brave enough to face one of my biggest fears, I was brave enough to take the step to fixing my teeth once and for all. Once my appointment was finished, they scheduled me in for a cleaning and a full consultation to start my dental care.
My treatment plan
After my first ever cleaning (unpleasant as I had a lot of plaque build-up), the dentist laid out a dental plan for me. First and foremost was to take care of the tooth that was bothering me with a root canal. Afterward I was going to start treatment of my many cavities. I was also referred to an orthodontist after I had braved the plunge to get my teeth completely made-over. As a reminder this is all still happening in January of 2018.
What my endodontist had ended up doing was performing a pulpectomy in place of a root canal. This was intended to be a temporary fix after it was determined that they could not save my tooth. Shortly after this procedure, I began my fillings.
Taking a short break
By this time it is August 2018. This is about the time that I discovered I had endometriosis and all dental work had to be placed on hold. It was damn near impossible to juggle multiple doctor appointments, work, and dentist appointments. On top of that the financial burden was too much. And so my treatment ground to a screeching halt.
Jumping back in
By December of 2018, I had mostly healed from my surgery and I was in a better place financially. And so I decided to call my orthodontist to say that the treatment plan was back on. Then started the mad rush to finish my dental work before my braces got put on. In the month of January, I had 7 fillings and 6 teeth extracted.
Getting My braces!
On Tuesday, February 5, I had braces put on for the first time. While uncomfortable and odd, it didn’t hurt, thankfully. The inside of my lips hurt, that’s for sure. How do I feel? As excited as I am that I am finally on a steady path to getting straighter, healthier teeth, I am a little self-consience once more. With the metal brackets, my imperfections are a little more pronounced than they had been.
I have to remind myself that this is temporary. 3 years temporary but……… The end results are going to be worth it. It’ll be worth all those memories and the huge financial burden. Because this is my smile, my life, and I’m finally shrugging off my fear and taking charge.
My message to you
I know few people will read this, and few still will take the time to read the whole thing. But if I can recap this, and the real reason why I decided to share this, it would be to say this:
Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to take that next step, be it entering a new relationship, or taking the leap of faith to quit your job, or even to my fellow writers out there too scared to let anyone read their work. Do what makes you happy! Be brave!