Monday, December 10, 2007

Brace free after three years!

Sorry for not posting about my brace-removal earlier ... kind of had a "perfect storm" of events that kept me away for the weekend. To top it off, I can't find my digital camera to take a current photo! I'm going to look around the house one more time but I really think I left it in Connecticut the last time I was up that way. Worst case scenario is that I'll treat myself to an early Christmas present :)

So, this past Friday I had an 8:30 am appointment with the Orthodontist to remove the braces. His office is in the National Naval Medical Center (Hospital) in Bethesda, Maryland which is, on a good travel day, about an hour's drive from where I live. At that time of the morning, however, you tend to hit the beltway traffic and a one hour drive could easily turn into a two and a half hour slow-jam. Not knowing how the traffic was going to be (it was drizzling rain / snow), I left the house at 6:00 am -- wouldn't you know it that traffic was light, there weren't any accidents, and I made the trip in under an hour. The problem was that the Orthodonist ended up running late because he had an appointment with a cardiologist that pushed back all of the Orthodonist appointments about an hour. So, I get there an hour and a half early and don't get seen until an hour after my scheduled appointment.

But I'm getting my braces off so it's all good!

Once in the chair everything went pretty smoothly. He started with the upper braces by clipping the bands around the molars and then prying off the brackets. With only one or two exceptions, they all popped off fairly quickly - I was surprised because I'd had them on for three years. After he finished with the upper braces he removed the lower ones and, if anything, they came off even easier.

Let me ask you guys who have had braces removed recently -- wasn't that a weird feeling the first time your lips touched your teeth after the braces were removed?!?

The next step was the grinding off of the bonding material and, while there wasn't any pain involved, I felt like there *should be* ... the sound of that high-speed grinding instrument made my skin crawl more than any other dental procedure I've been through.

But I had my braces off so it's all good!

Now, I don't know what I was thinking but I knew that I was getting temporary retainers once the braces were removed. I guess I thought they would use previous molds to create the retainers and they would be ready for me almost immediately. Little did I know that I'd be sitting through two more rounds of goop-filled metal trays! I'm not going to say I actually gagged while making the upper trays ... I will say I'm glad I didn't have breakfast that morning!

But I had my braces off so it's all good!

By this time it's about 11:00 am and the Orthodontist tells me that the temporary retainers will be ready by 2:00 pm (maybe sooner). The way the morning started I knew it won't be sooner and I definitely wasn't going to be driving home and coming back. Luckily the Medical Center has a pretty good cafeteria so I went down and had my first brace-free lunch - a basic fish & vegetable meal. Not too taxing on the newly brace-free teeth which, I have to say, were just a wee-bit sore after all the debonding and grinding from earlier in the day.

At 2:00 pm I stopped back by the Orthodontist's office and caught him as he was heading out for yet another appointment with the cardiologist. He went over the daily wearing and cleaning rituals with me and gave me some teeth whitening gel which could be used with the temporary trays - I guess this is pretty standard.

About five minutes later the dental assistant was finished sanding down the temporary retainers and I put them on for the first time. The top retainer fit perfectly and went on very smoothly. The bottom retainer, however, fits a lot snugger (if that's a word) but feels great once it's on. Getting them both off to eat is still a bit of a challenge because I don't have long finger nails and it's sometimes difficult to "break the seal" to remove them. Once I've gotten one side started, though, they come off pretty quickly.

And I have my braces off so it's all good!

Updated photos are coming ... I promise!