My teeth weren't aesthetically displeasing; I have chewing and jaw issues that the dentist and orthodontist promise that getting rid of a crossbite will help. As I do with all things medical, I said, "Sock it to me!" (no I didn't...I said, "Let's do this!" or some similar bro-speak) and went for it, after a year of wearing a splint at night to help correct my bite.
The process of putting them on was not arduous or painful, as nearly everyone who'd had braces told me. I just had to lie still, keep my mouth open, and (intermittently) cope with the taste of foul chemicals for a couple of hours. "You're a good patient," the orthodontist told me. I gave him a thumbs-up** as I tried not to swallow that stuff they squirted on my teeth.
All was well and good--no tooth pain, just a headache--until one of my brackets popped off later that day, when I was at work. I was walking from one building to another when I felt something go sproing!!! in my mouth. I clapped my hands over my lips and hustled back to my office, where I called the orthodontist and they told me to come back immediately.
The assistant girl pulled the wire out of all the brackets and removed the offending bracket. She then scraped at the tooth that formerly bore the offending bracket to get the old glue off. Next, she prepared the teeth for re-bracketing. Then, the orthodontist placed the brackets on my teeth. After that, the assistant got a shorter wire and clipped it in the brackets. We all said good day to each other again and I went back to work.
The second time around was quite painful. When the girl pulled the wire out, it felt as though she were pulling my top teeth forward and out of my mouth. Since then, every time I sneeze, my teeth click together (as they always do; I have a dramatic, emphatic sneeze), it hurts so much. It hurt to eat my morning oatmeal.
So, the pain is not in the installation, but in the living afterwards.
In two years, I'll have poster-girl teeth and fewer chewing problems! I'm keeping my eyes on the prize through these twenty-minute brushing and intricate, hand-eye-coordination-testing flossing sessions.
**Key to Dentists' and Orthodontists' Patients' Hand Signals
- Thumbs-up: you're not hurting me and these aren't really tears I'm crying; I'm totally strong and brave
- Thumbs-down: I don't like this...more Novocaine, please :( <---would be making a super frowny face except my mouth is propped open with gadgets
- Hand held out, fingers spread: you're either making me gag with the spit-sucker or drowning me with the water-thing; I'm in the "still can be polite about it" stage
- Hand flapping frantically: it's like you've shoved a package of pencils down my throat; please stop making me gag; don't even raise an eyebrow at my super-sensitive gag reflex
- Hand waggles from side to side, like stereotypical Frenchman's hand: the pain is neither here nor there, so you should shoot more Novocaine in my gums so we don't find out what it's like when I can feel this, even a little