When I last checked in for my continuing saga of getting braces at 37, I was learning how to survive the palate expander. I was starting to eat a little more normally and wasn’t in much pain. Of course, as soon as I got used to all of that, my top braces went on. And everything REALLY changed. I don’t like to admit some of the things below, but I have been getting such nice emails from people going through the same thing right now that I want to be honest about it all.
Getting the braces themselves was really easy. I think I was in and out in half an hour. Because I already had the metal bands on my back molars, all they had to do was apply the individual brackets, set the wire, and loop the elastics (I got a purple clear rather than going all color crazy). I didn’t even start feeling anything until the last 5 minutes when she was setting the wire onto my teeth with some kind of pliers and the rubber bands.
They told me to expect that the pain would get worse throughout the day and even worse the next morning. They also said it could be 5-7 days before it went away. They were right! I was miserable that first afternoon. I basically took a nap on the couch and watched Food Network, fantasizing about food I knew I couldn’t eat. The next day was painful but I tried to distract myself. I ate soup, ice cream, pudding, and basically the same stuff I have been eating for a month.
On Day 3 I did a 5 mile run and ate some pasta. I just cut everything up really small. At that point I started noticing that I wasn’t hurting constantly. I’m on Day 6 now and things are getting back to normal. I only take ibuprofen about once a day (mainly when I have to have the expander cranked). I still can’t bite anything with my front teeth or they feel like they will break. But the back teeth are fine and the front teeth no longer ache. But the pain is not the worst of it!
The last month I was a little embarrassed to talk because you could hear my lisp. But you couldn’t actually see that expander and the lisp was getting better. A major reason that I decided to get the braces was that I was tired of being so self-conscious of my smile. I feel like I shot myself in the foot because I have never felt more self-conscious in my life. I don’t want to see people and try to avoid smiling unless I really have to.
At this point, I am hoping that I will just get used to it and accept it. But it’s really hard. I’ve been practicing smiling so that you don’t see my bottom teeth because when the bottom braces go on it is going to be even worse. They can’t do the ceramic down there, so they will be metal and stand out more.
I don’t want to eat in public because I would be mortified if something got caught in the braces. At least working from home I can pretty much hide out. At least until I get used to all of it. At Zumba we do an LMFAO song where the words are “Sexy girl all around the world just shake your hips” and every single time they sang it last night I thought to myself “The least sexy thing on the planet is braces.” Clearly, I’m a little hung up on the whole thing.
For the next 4 weeks I will continue to crank my palate expander every other day so that hopefully when I get back I will be fully expanded. At that point, they will tighten the braces with a stronger wire that will put even more pressure on my teeth. I’m hoping that the bottom braces will not go on for a few months. Maybe even after our summer vacation? Of course, the sooner they go on, the sooner I will be done with it all.
Read more about my journey:
Amy Winters says
My teeth have been crooked for a long time, and my parents couldn’t afford orthodontics when I was younger. I have been thinking about getting my teeth straightened. As I was reading your article, you state that the first week was pretty rough because of the pain. I assume that is the standard for when you first get orthodontics.
I am also 37 years old and just got a palette expander and top and bottom braces put on on March 18, 2013. I am so glad to see your story and feel like I am not the only one. I hate my expander right now. It is only 5 days and I hate eating. I have had no issues with the braces. A few poking wires which is fixed with wax. I look forward to your continued posts.
Thanks for sharing!
As of now I have not ventured to anything more solid than scrambled eggs.
Thanks for reaching out, Melissa! I am glad to know someone is reading. 🙂
I am hopefully finished with the turning of my expander this week because I have to admit that it has still been sore for me for two months. Not as bad as the beginning but there are MANY foods it still hurts to chew.
If you still have wires poking after a few days, you may want to have your orthodontist trim them again. They should not consistently poke you and you shouldn’t have to wear the wax for more than a few days.
My main issues with the expander still after 2 months are 1) difficulty in saying a few letters when I talk fast or get tired, and 2) a lot of food still getting REALLY stuck in it. Rice is the worst!!
But it is SOOOO much better than that first week!!
Rebecca Madigan says
It’s been about 12 years since I had my braces, I guess I got them at the same age you are now. Being on the other side, here’s what I can tell you:
– The most embarrassing part isn’t the metal in your mouth, it’s the drool! Good lord, the increase in saliva production is enormous. This will continue through the entire process and a little bit after, if you have to wear retainers. Sorry for the harshness, but just have tissue handy.
– The pain will really diminish after the first few months. You may have a few hours of soreness after tightenings, but that’s it. The tenderness of the teeth will completely go away.
– Your teeth and bite will likely be straight within just a few months. You will be amazed at the progress, so much so that you’ll probably not care about the metal. The other 15 months or so that your braces stay on are simply to set the teeth in firm place.
– I only had problem with one type of food: prosciutto. I ordered prosciutto and melon at a restaurant, had to disappear into the bathroom for 20 minutes while I dug it out. I’m not a gum chewer so didn’t even try that. Rice from sushi was a bit of a problem, but just rinse vigorously with sake and you’ll be ok – better even.
– I still wear my retainers at night, I love them because I’m a grinder and they relieve the pressure of that.
– It’s all worth it!!! Your face will change too, it’s amazing. And you’ll be a smiling fool!
Best of luck!
Thanks, Rebecca. I appreciate the sage advice! I will have to keep that in mind about the prosciutto. I’ve already experienced the problem with rice in my palate expander. It seems like it should be such an easy thing to eat but it lodges itself everywhere!!
I’m glad to hear from someone who came out on the other side and said it is all worth it because I am not feeling it right now!