A friendly summary of my braces journey to share my experience and mentally prepare those who wish to put on braces 🙂
1. Plucking of tooth
No tooth was plucked as the dentist said there is enough room for my teeth to straighten out. So it really depends on individual to determine if any tooth has to be removed.
2. One visit before putting of brackets
Scaling was done to ensure that teeth are sparkling clean for braces as once you put them on, scaling and polishing would be difficult, if not impossible. It was done 14 days before the putting of brackets as it would result in some bleeding that requires some time to heal.
X-ray was done to capture my front and side view of teeth alignment.
Photos of front and side views were taken, likely for before and after comparison.
A mold for braces was done as well.
The usual scaling would cause some pain and bleeding but that is very normal. If you visit the dentist often for scaling and polishing service, you would be pretty familiar with it.
The next visit – to put on the brackets – was booked 2 weeks later.
Had braces fixed on my crooked teeth at a nearby dental clinic.
The dentist had deliberately chosen to do polishing right before the putting of braces so that my teeth would be at its cleanest state when the brackets are fixed on my crooked teeth.
2. Putting the brackets
Was being introduced the Damon self-ligating metal braces (clear braces would cost even more) instead of the conventional braces with rubber bands. Unfortunately, it costs 1000SGD more than the conventional braces. The advantage would be that the period shortens from 2 years to 1.5 years. Worth it or not, depends on your own judgement and financial status.
The whole process took about 1.5hour. Beside the mild discomfort that I felt when my lips are forced open, I experienced zero pain. I almost could take a nap if the dentist did not require me to tilt my head to left/right from time to time.
Therefore, I can conclude that putting on the brackets is really not painful at all.
Paid 1500SGD for this visit. Was told that I had to pay $100 for each subsequent visit.
Therefore, you do not actually need to pay the full sum of your braces treatment at one shot.
3. First meal
So I realised that besides brackets, the dentist had placed a lump of cement at the four back molars of my upper jaw (two at each side) to prevent me from grinding and biting off the brackets.
These lumps of white cement resulted in big hindrance to the chewing of food! Basically, my upper teeth never met my lower teeth. So how do I chew? I tried to push my food backwards to where the lumps of cement were placed and chewed with them. Therefore, it really took me quite some time to finish my food.
No dull-aching pain was felt yet.
4. First brushing of teeth with braces
Followed the nurse’s instructions to brush the upper and lower parts of the braces diligently. I felt that many tiny food pieces were stuck in between my braces and I had yet to purchase the interdental brushes, so I brushed twice to remove as much food pieces as I can. Gargling helped too. Took about 15-20 minutes to brush my teeth.
1. First night with braces
When I woke up, I felt something in my mouth. I forgot that I had actually put on braces the previous day.
Brushing took up more time than usual but that was not important now as I finally managed to feel the pain when my toothbrush brushed against the braces! Holy god, I could not continue my usual speed and had to slowly move my toothbrush up and down. Gargling was a little painful as well.
2. First breakfast
Lost my appetite and only went with my usual cup of instant coffee.
3. First lunch
Rice had to go with soup so that I could actually swallow without having to chew. And the fact that my upper teeth could not touch my lower teeth did not help.
4. First dinner
Figured out that PLAIN porridge was the best choice for my situation.
5. Second brushing
Since I was going to take so long to brush my teeth, I had decided to start the routine of listening to a new album while doing so. With two brushing per day, I guess a could finish one brand new album per day. 1.5 years later, I would have listened to approximately 5475 songs!
Ate pizzas and broccoli. Tore the pizzas into small pieces and removed the thick and hard crust at the side and used a pair of scissors to cut the broccoli into tiny pieces.
Nothing can stop me from eating good food! Good thing is that I don’t like sweets, so I would have no problem in keeping them away from my view.
Went to Daiso (Japanese Store) to purchase the inter-dental brushes which were sold at 4 for $2. Tried it after brushing and realise I don’t realise need them. If your brushing is effective (not counting that I brushed twice every time I brush), there shouldn’t be any food stuck in between your braces.
Therefore, don’t buy too many inter-dental brushes. Determine the quantity you want to stock up with after evaluating the cleanliness after brushing with your normal toothbrush only.
By the end of the day, I felt a sense of sourness in my mouth. It felt as though I had talked non-stop for the whole day but I didn’t. My saliva seemed to be running out and not enough to lubricate my mouth 😦
It had been one week since I put on my braces.
The lumps of cement on my back molars had begun to wear off and eating normal food was no longer difficult.
It’s just a bit irritating to have food pieces stuck in between your braces after a meal. Imagine laughing with your family/friends/colleagues after a meal with a small piece of veggie hooked in between your front braces. They would be too shy to point that out and I would have to make a conscious effort of licking and pushing food pieces through my braces; keeping my smile to a grin; rushing off to have a gargle before continuing the conversation.
No longer having trouble sleeping with braces or feeling anything extra when I woke up from my sleep, and that felt great 🙂
Visited the dentist after putting on my braces for a month. It was a short trip which lasted approximately 15min. Basically what the dentist had done was to remove the two wires (upper and lower) that the brackets held together and checked the positions of my teeth.
Next, he added additional wires for my bottom teeth to quicken the movement of my lower right teeth. Finally, he placed the two wires back to where they originally were and tightened both of them a little. Pain level was that of an ant bite, I am serious.
Paid for the first dental trip after putting on my braces, and I was back to eating pears and broccoli 🙂
Next visit was scheduled to be 1.5month later.
The fourth visit to the dentist. It was requested by me a day after one of my brackets came off.
It seemed like there was a bit of overcrowding which stretched the wire holding onto the brackets outwards, thereby bringing off one of my upper right brackets.
The dentist informed me that he would be thinning some of my upper right teeth to provide space for their “buddies”.
The thinning process was slightly painful as the saw-like device moved a little into my gum. There was some bleeding as well.
Next, seeing that both of biting pillows had worn off, they rebuilt that two pillows sitting on both sides of the back molars of my upper and lower jaws. Looks like I’ll have to spend more time on chewing again.
My next dental appointment was booked two months later.
2 months have passed. Back to the dental clinic for braces appointment.
My laziness in brushing my teeth was spotted by the dentist who has found some calculus at the bottom of my lower front teeth.
My wires were changed. Although my teeth have straightened, there is still a lot of work to be done (not by me but by the wires) to push out my upper arc and correct my lower right row of teeth. So basically, the dentist has tightened the wires. This caused a bit of pain which is similar to the day when I first put on my braces.
Told my dentist that the end of the wire had bulged out causing little blisters at the end of my mouth, so he trimmed all ends nicely this time round. Well, he should have anticipated this 😦
Alright, the next appointment is again, 2 months later.
This update is way after the previous appointment that I had with my orthodontist. Not much was done during the two previous appointments. My dentist took out the wires and replaced them with shorter ones. Did not hurt much and eating was not affected at all during those months. On top of that, a metal hook was added to one of the upper right brackets. Its purpose was for me to hook a rubber band between that hook and another protruding metal on one of the lower brackets.
There is a cartoon fox printed on the little plastic bag that stores the tiny rubber bands. Upon searching online, realized that different animals (e.g. rabbit, chipmunk, monkey) represent different sizes of the rubber bands. Fox rubber band has a diameter of 1/4 inch.
It was recommended to not remove the rubber band except for meals. However, I was a little lazy to stick to that routine and most of the time, I only put the rubber band before I go to bed and took it out in the morning. It was a little uncomfortable and troublesome to remove it during mealtime.
Please do not follow such a bad role model!
[Interproximal Reduction (IPR)]
During the latest visit, the orthodontist told me that my upper front teeth were a little big and for the best alignment, would require thinning of the sides of my teeth to make space for movement. This would allow my upper front teeth to shift a little backwards. He mentioned “IPR” to the nurses and upon googling, found out that it actually meant Interproximal Reduction.
IPR is a painful and bloody process. The thinning of the sides of your teeth would go all the way to your gum, resulting in a lot of bleeding. For perfection, toleration is key 🙂
Eating would be affected as making spaces in between the upper teeth would mean that there would be a lot of shifting! Took me four to five days to chew normally again.
Besides that, another hook was added to one of the upper left brackets. This is to allow me to put another rubber band on the left hand side. So every night, I would have to hook two rubber bands onto the brackets. Not difficult once you have done it a couple of times.
Boom! It’s been more than a year since I have been wearing my braces! Life with braces is not that bad, just that you would have to endure constant trapping of food particles in between your braces, rubber bands and teeth; go through painful chewing of food right after dental visits; having slight difficulty in pronouncing words accurately; and having additional accessories whenever you smile at a camera.
Today was my nth visit to the dental clinic. Dentist was late for fifteen minutes but thanks to the wondrous invention of the internet, I was kept occupied. The friendly clinic assistant chatted with me too.
Alright, once settled into the dental chair, I was asked how the putting of rubber bands had been going. Hmm…replied not much difference (guilty), just a little bleeding of the gum (well this is true). I could slightly feel that the dentist was a little doubtful if I have really been putting on my rubber bands (haha).
The teeth on my lower jaw were cleaned. Some food particles were trapped in between the rubber bands which normal brushing is unable to remove completely. This could have caused my lower gum to be red and puffy, and eventually bleeding while brushing.
Four rubber bands which were wired through my upper and lower jaws were removed and replaced with one for the upper jaw only. Could feel the tightness once he placed the wire. Can already predict that eating will be difficult for the next few days.
Alright, shall be a good kid and start wearing the rubber bands at least once every two days…(do not learn from bad example)
It’s been a while since the last update. Good news! Braces would be gone in four weeks time! One last month to endure food being stuck in between the braces, one last month to enjoy the moment when my tongue successfully digs out the food remains in between the metals. (Disgusting, oops)
It’s been a while since my dentist asked me whether I had put on the rubber bands diligently before I sleep, so I simply forgot about (or maybe purposely ignored) them. Seems like rubber bands are not needed for the last two to three months.
My bites are aligning, except for the right front, which the dentist tightened again…Well, I am used to the pain. However, for the past two months or so, my gums started to bleed when I brush. Dentist told me that cleaning required but he recommended for me to wait since cleaning is required one week before the removal of braces. He said that the bleeding should not worsen if I brush well. Well, to save money (because cleaning requires 80 bucks), I shall endure.
Looking forward to the removal of braces!
Removal of Braces
Finally, after 603 days of endurance, a warm welcome to my straightened teeth! Although this visit is to remove my Damon self-ligating metal braces, this is not my last visit to the clinic. Another trip has to be done to collect my retainers. And of course, future trips in the future for polishing and scaling.
Removal was done in a swift but the process almost made me think that my teeth would fall off. Slightly uncomfortable but not to the extent of painful. Got a rinse and instantly felt the emptiness in my mouth without the braces. Some sandy substances remained stuck to the front of my teeth but these were removed after one round of having dental equipment moving about in my mouth.
Here comes the painful part. CLEANING. It felt like having a thick needle poking right through your GUMS. It was bearable with clenched fists, contracted gluteal muscles, frowning eyebrows and an opened mouth (obviously) until the last few jabs which I think the dentist knew they were the worst and intentionally put them till the end. I nearly cursed but I could not as my mouth was wide open.
After multiple rinsing, I felt better or maybe numbness towards the pain. Time to create molds for my retainers. The process was painless, just some blue coloured dough-like substance being placed against your teeth for about 1-2 minutes. Next, I was given a fluoride treatment so I couldn’t eat or drink for half an hour.
Then, an X-ray and some photographs of my spastic face were taken. Paid for scaling, polishing and flouride treatment, and left the clinic with a weird taste (fluoride) in a mouth which I still could not get used to!
Nights with Retainers
As you might have realised after reading the above, I am not a very hardworking person. Night time should be spent either to video-call my girlfriend who is studying overseas or to catch up on my reading. Putting of retainers is not difficult but talking may be slightly different from usual. Imagine talking with bubble gums sticking on all your teeth. So I dislike wearing retainers to bed.
As the retainers are moulded according to the shape of your teeth upon removal of braces, not wearing them for one night might cause your teeth to move away from that shape a little. The next night when you try to wear it again, you will feel some tightness. When you chew and bite, your teeth will move a little from that shape it had in the morning when you just removed your retainers. So skipping many days of not wearing retainers might cause your teeth to move so drastically that you will experience great pain when you decide to put them on again.
Another reason why I dislike wearing retainers is that saliva will accumulate in the retainers overnight. When you remove them to brush your teeth in the morning, it will stink like hell 😦
Well, that’s the price one should pay for straight teeth.
Nurses at my dental clinic had instructed me not to use toothpaste or any soap to clean my retainers. Guess it may cause the plastics to wear away or chemical reactions might occur between them. I was recommended to get a normal toothbrush to brush my retainers as and when I want to (especially when white stains of saliva could be seen).
May we all have great smiles in 2019!
During the COVID-19 period, my retainers cracked. Thankfully, the cracks were at the back of my retainers so my retainers were still wearable.
However, there were nights when the cracks cut my tongue and created painful ulcers. As booking of dental appointment is no longer instant, one may have to wait for weeks now, I tried to fix my retainers by cutting those sharp parts away. It worked and that delayed my desire to replace them.
Alright, months after my retainers’ first crack, I finally visited my dentist and he introduced an extremely cool pair of retainers to me (extra wire to secure and protect the retainers so as to extend its lifespan). Of course, the price was ‘spectacular’ as well. However, he did not seem to give me an alternative so I can only trust his words and paid SGD560 for my new night buddy. Will update more when I unbox my new buddy and unveil its beauty.
Alright, so after about two weeks, I have received my new retainers. As usual I spent some time with my fatherly dentist to learn how to wear the new retainers. How scared I was to break them because they cost a bomb!
Ok, so how do I feel with my retainers? My teeth finally regained freedom at night after many years of suffocation. There is no longer gluey saliva playing tug of wall with my teeth and gum in the morning. The new retainers are not as tight as the previous pair which make me doubt how good a job it can do to retain my teeth but so far so good. I am still quite diligent in putting them on every night. It was recommended that I can gradually cut down on the frequency after a year to wearing them once every other night, and then slowly to weekly basis after three years.
Actually after getting the new pair of retainers, I don’t mind wearing them every night since they feel less dirty in the morning. I hope they last long enough for me to save up for a new pair!