Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Do Braces Hurt? Best Time for Braces? | All About Braces

Hi everyone! Today's blog post revolves around braces, aka my previous life, since I just broke free from them today, and will starting my new life with retainers tomorrow! I've been meaning to write up a blog post about braces because I personally had no real idea what I was getting into, so I really hope this could help those interested in it, those who currently have it, or are just simply curious about it. 

I made a video about braces as well! I've always wanted to make videos but never got around to doing it.. so this is my first video on YouTube! ^_^ Please let me know what you think. Obviously, my lighting wasn't the best. T_T" This was shot from my old bedroom back when we lived with our Grandma. Ah, the good times. Anyway, I'd love to hear some constructive feedback if any, or please leave me your thoughts. ;) If I made you smile, hopefully you'd like, comment, and subscribeee! Hehe, shameless plug. I hope to create more videos about clothes, beauty, and lifestyle (positive thoughts and perhaps the university student life^^), so stay tuned!

Anyhoo, if you're more of the reading type of person, or you're sick of my voice, or want further details about braces, here is my lengthy braces post! :D 

Braces essentially help to tighten your teeth and alter them into a position whereby society defines as "perfect" or "straight". It mainly consists of metal brackets (glued onto each tooth) and a wire that connects the brackets together to tighten your teeth. 

braces, metal braces, metal brackets, metal wire, clean teeth, perfect teeth, brace face
Metal Braces | Photo Source
Additional Background Information
Most people today wear their braces as early as their 5th or 6th grade of elementary to high school. I've known people who wore braces ages 30+ and I find that the older you are, the less pain you feel (or perhaps you are simply more pain tolerable). I got my braces on the summer after my first year of university and fast forward two years later, here I am, and I just got them off today! =D (I was pretty much the last of my age to get them...)

Braces costed us around $8,000 Canadian, but with my Mom's insurance, we ended up being billed $6,000. In terms of cost, this orthodontist office allowed interest-free monthly payments, which was obviously great because that didn't mean a huge one-time lump sum payment. 

Metal vs. Plastics 
I chose the metal ones as #1, they're cheaper, and #2, they are supposedly more effective than plastic ones. I received feedback on my video and someone suggested me making a comparison with my sister's plastic braces, so here are some of her selfies from the past with her braces on. They're especially less noticeable when afar: 

Orthodontist Office
I feel like choosing an appropriate orthodontist office should also be a fairly important stage that should not be overlooked. Whilst it was probably a better decision for me to have got my braces done at an office in London, Ontario (where I was mainly based for university education), I ended up traveling back home (Edmonton, Alberta) and having it done at an orthodontist location nearby my house. My sister had her braces done here and I knew many people who had experienced great results through the orthodontist office, Signature Orthodontics. 

Although I initially didn't put much thought into choosing an orthodontist office, throughout my braces journey, I felt glad I chose them. Number one, it was convenient, and perfect, especially since there were a number of early morning appointments (i.e., as early as 7am), and you definitely want to ensure you're arriving on time. If you miss your appointment, who knows how long you'll have to wait before you're treated- an hour or a couple of weeks for re-scheduling? 

Besides convenience, you may want to consider the flexibility and payment options of the orthodontist office. Signature Orthodontics was very flexible with me. Since I was going to school in another province, they made plans to schedule me in ahead of time, and did their best with working around my complicated schedule (I only flew back home to Edmonton twice a year during the holidays). They also offered a payment plan that worked well for us.

Reputation and customer service may be another thing you'd like to consider. The Signature team was both warm, friendly, inviting and very knowledgeable about what they were doing. I knew I could always trust them whenever something happened. Furthermore, I loved how they had a patients' reward program, where we could earn points to redeem for gift cards. A certain number of points would be earned for brushing your teeth at the brushing station prior to the appointment, arriving on-time for your appointment, having a positive attitude throughout the appointment, etc. It's also a great business operation strategy for trying to ensure patients arrive on-time so that it will not affect time conflicts for the next patient. 

Choosing the right orthodontist office is really important and my decision criteria would mainly include convenience, reputation, and customer service. 

Frequently Asked Questions 
Timeline & Age
For most of my friends who wore it when they were at a younger age, I noticed they tended to wear braces for a longer period of time (3-4 years), compared to an older age of 15+ (~2 years). However, this could also be attributed to their more complex treatment if they had a more complex situation? 

My braces treatment took me two years and two months while I know a family friend who probably had decently straight teeth to begin with, and only took around 1-1.5 years. She was around 30 years old when she had her treatment and did a great job with her treatment routine. 

Obviously, this might not be true, but a pro to wearing braces when you're later in the age is that you're more inclined to follow your routine and pay attention to the "rules" (aka avoiding hard and acidic food/drinks, etc.)


According to my orthodontist's office, braces should not affect your speech at all (not biased at all... sarcasm intended). I mean, I can definitely still speak (watch the video yourself :P), but ever since wearing braces, I found it took a slight more effort to speak by opening my mouth wider. I also found it difficult to articulate certain words. Needless to say, braces do in fact affect speech. This annoyed me a bit since I'm a business student, we have class presentations, class participation, and clear speech is essential. I believe I simply dealt with it by opening my mouth wider to ensure words are spoken clearly, and I practiced speech with braces. 
Contrary to popular belief that it is extremely painful when you first have your braces inserted into your mouth, this is actually one of the least stressful moments before the next however number of years with your braces on (okay, that sounded a little too dramatic).

Pain Point#1: Tightening feeling of the wires and the brackets
This is especially painful (uncomfortable with that tightening feeling of teeth) but also exciting because you know you're on your way to nice-looking teeth! After a few months, you'll adjust to it... however, the regular orthodontist check-ups (one around every 8 weeks) will usually have it tightened, and be prepared for some more pain! :P PAIN IS TEMPORARY! YOUR PERFECT TEETH WILL BE FOREVER~! 
Solution: There is no real direct solution to this. I simply worked throughout the summer full-time and since I was focused with work, I didn't notice the pain at all! It only started hurting once I got home since I was bored and had nothing better to do :/ My point is, volunteer or go work to be pre-occupied and you will not realize the pain at all!

Pain Point #2: Metal brackets/wires poking at your gum
Unfortunately, this happens from time to time, and don't be surprised if you wake up to injured or punctured gums. Bleeding may also occur occasionally. Supposedly, the orthodontist should be cutting the wires to an appropriate length to ensure it isn't sticking out to your gums. After each tightening braces appointment, the clinical assistant serving me would usually ask me to move my tongue around and check if I can feel any signs of uncomfortable pokes from the wires. 
Solution: Use wax (a sticky solution that resembles chewing gum) as a temporary solution and place it on the poking area so that the bracket or wire will no longer be causing you pain! 

1. Food: Especially in the beginning of the treatment (first few weeks to a couple of months), you definitely can't eat hard foods- even if you tried, I doubt you could successfully chew through. I mainly made myself fruit smoothies (by the way, apples, unless cut up and sliced, are a big no-no, even after wearing braces for a few months!) and had rice porridge and noodles. Soft foods are the key! After the first few months of adapting, you should be able to eat basically anything. With braces on, you're recommend against apples, acidic drinks like pop (could deteriorate the metal), gum (could stick to the metals and you'd be in a sticky situation... #sorrynotsorry), and basically any extremely hard food that could break your metals. My orthodontist office offered free bracket replacements for the first two or three broken brackets, but they charge after the 2nd or 3rd. 

2. Cleaning

You should be brushing your teeth after each meal of the day- it should be three times a day, after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When brushing your teeth, it's not much of a big difference from normal teeth brushing, except that you may spend an extra minute brushing the braces itself. You should be brushing above, on, and under the braces! 
Flossing should be done every night. I find flossing annoying because you have to insert the floss under each wire in order to floss between the teeth. I recommend using Super Floss as they making flossing braces very easy! I take around 5 minutes with flossing, and trust me- brushing definitely does not get all the food out of the teeth. Flossing is a life-saver, and you'd be surprised how much food you remove! 

My Typical Routine

1: Top Layer- Brush above the braces, on the braces, and below the braces (circular motion)
2: Bottom Teeth- Brush above the braces, on the braces, and below the braces (circular motion)
3: Brush behind the teeth! Make sure you get the edges as well!
4. Proxabrush- Sometimes I'll use this after brushing, especially in the mornings or afternoons when I'm not flossing, to get rid of any food stuck in between the wires or brackets
5. Flossing (every night, after brushing)- floss between your teeth (pictured below)!
braces, flossing, flossing braces, white teeth, brace face, metal braces, plastic braces
Photo Source
Now, sometimes food could get stuck in your braces. Make sure you carry a proxabrush (pictured below) as it's so useful for removing food stuck in between the brackets or wires! 
proxabrush, cleaning routine, brushing braces, braces, brush braces, clean braces, using proxabrush
A proxabrush in action| Source
Elastics are used to help alter positioning of your bite (e.g., positioning of top layer of teeth and bottom). Your orthodontist will specify where the placements of your elastics should be (i.e., 2nd tooth's metal bracket with the 3rd back tooth's metal bracket with a specific rubber band thickness). You may have to wear this in the morning or at night only, or both during the day and night. Make sure you remove the elastics when eating and wear new ones when finished cleaning your teeth!

Because of the new routines you should be adapting to above, I feel like summer is a great time to be getting braces because it's a great time to transition and adapt before school begins (when stress from academics, clubs/extracurriculars, and relationships stir)! 

Before and After Photos Did I get my $8k and 2 years of time's worth? Photos tell a thousand words, soo, without further ado, I present to you some before and after photos!

I'm on the very right! My teeth were slightly crooked back then (pic taken in 2014)!

(excuse my sudden enlarged texts and expressive self ^^")VOILA, COME WITNESS MY LIFE-CHANGING MOMENT~ where I fit in with society's ideology of "straight, perfect teeth"... ? 

Hurrah for pimples. 

Within just a few days and weeks of wearing braces, you could dramatically see the difference the tightening creates on your teeth! I'm currently still getting used to my brace-less teeth, but I do feel more confident and happy about my teeth! *Update* Retainers remind me of braces all over again, though haha! 

Braces as an Adult

Yes, it' a little awkward and embarrassing at times. Especially since I'm in business school, we have networking events, and boy, do I feel like a child when speaking to these professionals. The typical networking conversation goes a little like:

Lights, camera, ack-shun! 

Professional: "Hi, nice to meet you" *offers handshake*
Me: *shines the extremely shiny metal braces to make an impression* Hire me! ;D 

Alright, I exaggerated a little there, but you get the point. 

However, don't feel the least bit embarrassed! I find it more attractive when people with braces continue to talk with confidence and let their personality shine rather than simply avoid speaking at all. You do you, and your perfect teeth will come in time ;)
I learned to appreciate and treasure my braces phase because it'll be a cute time to look back on. Who wouldn't like feeling young again, right??

Anyway, there's my personal experience and take on braces!  

Thank you for joining me on Braces 101, and I hope you found this helpful, interesting, or amusing. ^_^ I'd appreciate it if you'd watch my YouTube video, give it a "thumb's up" and maybe subscribe if you want to make my day? ;) 


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