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Author Topic: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain  (Read 10392 times)

Offline bfat

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STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« on: 17. January 2018, 20:36:59 PM »
Early September 2015

It seems a bit crazy that I'm writing the first entry of a diary about getting braces. Life is weird sometimes.

For the sake of proper documentation – after all, I'm a grad student (!) – a bit of context: I started grad school here three weeks ago on a scholarship; I finished my undergrad in psychology last spring. I'm 22, from a boring middle-class family from a boring middle-sized city. I'm in a graduate dorm/residence at this university in a bigger, more interesting city, and the first two weeks have been about getting settled, meeting advisors, getting stuff for my room, learning about the city, etc.

This residence has three private rooms and a common area, and it was clear from about 5 seconds after getting here that Janice, one of my two dorm-mates, would be one of my best friends. Super energetic, excited about everything, and just a good vibe from the very start, and so we've hung out together endlessly.

About a week after getting here (and meeting her), she came bouncing into the common area, which she likes to call "the den" (because it sounds like a thing dudes would call it, and she loves the irony). "How do you like your smile?" she asked. I was like, what? "I mean, do you like it? Are you happy with your teeth?"

I'd worn some kind of drool-inducing, awkward appliance for two years when I was about ten years old. Then I finished, and my dentist was happy with my bite. My teeth are still healthy, cavity-free and I don't think about them much. I told her this. "Me too," she said. "Well, my dentist in junior high said I had the best natural bite that he'd ever seen. He used to show other patients photos, because it's pretty unusual. But my wisdom teeth came in a few years ago, and look at this:"

She opened and pointed at her lower front teeth. One of them overlapped the other, just slightly. On her upper jaw, one of her upper canines looked a bit vampire-esque.

"I don't love this. And please don't hate me, Annika. But. Your teeth are fine, but they could look AMAZING. I can be an objective critic, and that's my assessment."

At this point I think I ran my tongue over my teeth.

"Anyway," she said, "I was at the student center and I saw a poster that said that the faculty of dentistry does orthodontic treatment for students at reduced rates, and so I dropped in." She said this very casually, like she'd stopped to find out about a recycling program. "Because we're grad students, and because we're both TAs on an undergraduate course, the reduced rate is pretty great."

"What's pretty great?" I asked.

"Free!" she said.

I thought about it for a second, and then I said: "I'd need to think about this a bit longer. This is honestly the first time I've thought about it at all. And we're 22 years old. Do you want to be walking around with braces at this age, especially when your teeth are fine?"

"Short-term pain for long-term gain," she replied. "And way easier if we both do it."

"I'll think about it, I said."

So then I went to a meeting with an advisor about my courses, and literally for the next five days Janice kept pestering me about it in her enthusiastic way. More than once I spent a bit of time staring at my teeth in the mirror and agreeing with her assessment – my smile was nice, but it could be AMAZING. So I decided it couldn't hurt to find out more.

Janice made us an appointment exactly one week ago, and this morning we went to the dental faculty building and into an office/reception area that was pretty much indistinguishable from a dentist's office. I think they try to make it seem similar so it's more like the real thing for patients and for the students. Janice had explained enough to them ahead of time so we went in together and sat in a room with a treatment person, Suzie, who was full-time professional staff rather than a student. On the shelf behind her were various models showing braces on teeth. Suzie's teeth were literally perfect.

She explained the program: free treatment for faculty members, which we indeed somehow qualified for as TAs, and we'd be treated by upper-year orthodontics students, who either had moved straight from graduating from dentistry or had returned from dental practice to add this speciality. It was run like a large clinic, so we wouldn't have a single orthodontist, but each would have access to the treatment plan and they would review progress together with faculty members. Treatment time would be the same as anywhere, but chair time might be longer because they would document stuff in more detail, take more impressions and photos throughout, and occasionally discuss the case for classroom rounds, blah blah blah. Any questions?

"So, I'm not a teenager, obviously," I said. "I'm assuming you've got options like Invisalign?"

"We don't work with Invisalign because it's a proprietary system and most of the work is done remotely at their facilities," Suzie said. "Because this is about training and experience, the one condition here is that your treatment will be standard orthodontics, where the students can work with and see the physics and mechanics of your teeth and bite, to understand first-hand how the process works."

It was pretty clear Suzie had answered these questions before.

"What about clear braces?" I asked.

"These are available, but they would require an additional out-of-pocket payment. Basically anything that isn't strictly necessary for your treatment would cost extra. So if you wanted the college logo on your retainer, you'd have to pay for it."

We asked a few more questions. If we dropped out of the graduate program we could continue with the treatment but we'd need to pay the (still-reduced) fees from then on. We ran out of questions and Suzie started wrapping things up. If we wanted, she said, she could book us in for an exam to move things forward. It didn't mean committing.

"Sure," Janice said. "Let's do it."


Offline bfat

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #1 on: 17. January 2018, 21:34:12 PM »
Late September 2015

This morning was the exam/consultation appointment. Janice and I went together, she as enthusiastic as always, but we were ushered into different rooms for the actual exams.

My exam was pretty much like my sort of fuzzy memories of when I had orthodontic treatment when I was a kid, except there were two orthodontists (students) and one supervising orthodontist from the faculty. The supervisor was a man of probably around 50 who really didn't say a word, and the students were a kind of Asian-looking guy and a white woman both probably around 30. The orthodontist (students) poked around in my mouth, had me open and close my mouth. They took some photos and showed them to the older  faculty guy, who looked at them and said "good".

Then they asked me why I wanted treatment. "Hmmm," I said. "I guess I just know my teeth could be better than they are. I'm pretty sure they're functionally fine, but if it's reasonably easy and free to make them better, why not?"

"Better how?" the woman asked.

I hadn't thought about how to articulate this. "Well, I guess they're not entirely even. And I've seen, like, wider smiles on people? I'm mostly pretty happy with them, but I know there's room for improvement."

We talked a bit longer and then the three of them left the room and asked me to wait a few minutes. They came back in about fifteen minutes later and finally the older faculty guy spoke.

"Annika, the way we do these initial exams is two or more students participate and then individually discuss their initial findings with a faculty member so we can evaluate the effectiveness of their individual observations. These are two top students and they both had exactly the same initial reading of your case, so I'm happy for them to proceed to give you their thoughts. We do this step so you're confident that the treatment plan is professional."

"Uh, great," I said.

The Asian guy, Dr. Jack (he already was a dentist), said: "Annika, your bite is fairly good, but slightly Class II on your right side. And as you noted your teeth aren't completely even. We'd still need to take X-Rays and impressions and study those to create a comprehensive plan, but it's clear to us that the next step for you would be to fit you with standard braces."

"Right," I said. "How long do you think it would take?"

"That's a harder one to define, but it's not a super-complicated case, so my guess would be 12 to 16 months?" Jack looked at the faculty guy, who nodded in agreement.

"That seems pretty reasonable," I said.

The woman, Dr. Amy, said: "You don't have to decide now, but if you're ready to move ahead we can do those impressions and X-rays now."

I channelled Janice and tried to enthusiastically say: "let's do it!"

"OK, fantastic," Dr. Amy said. "I'll get someone to prepare the paperwork, and we can get to work."

I guess this is happening, I thought. How weird!

So then I did impressions (which I'd done a bunch of times when I had that appliance years ago) and some weird X-Rays (which seemed new to me). Then they took me back to the chair and Dr. Amy said they'd put my spacers in – to make room for molar bands on my back teeth. Dr. Amy put in two spacers, which are basically little blue rubber rings, between my back lower right teeth and two more between my back upper right teeth. Then Dr. Jack did the same on the left side, all under the watchful eye of the faculty guy. He then pulled on some gloves and a mask, checked their work, removed one spacer and replaced it with a new one.

"Just a bit off to the side on that one, Amy," he said.

I got out of the chair, shook all their hands, and then walked out to the reception area. I signed a few documents about faculty affiliation and acceptance of terms, and made an appointment – TO GET BRACES IN A WEEK AND A HALF. Then I sat down and waited for Janice. She came out about 10 minutes later and signed her own set of papers and walked over to me.

"Looks like we're doing this," I said.

"You're in?" she said. "I thought you'd back out."

I opened my mouth and pointed to the spacers on my lower teeth.

She pointed to hers and then we started giggling.

"When's your appointment?" she asked, finally. I told her and she went back to the desk and made her own. Same day, same time.

Offline bfat

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #2 on: 17. January 2018, 22:50:23 PM »
Early October 2015

OK, this was a bit of a weird day. I'm pretty sure I'm not friends with Janice any more.

So we got up early, ate together, brushed and flossed and all that, and then headed over to the dental building.

For the past 10 days we'd sort of not talked about this day. I mean, how much can you talk about getting braces, in the end? One day, Janice asked what it was like when I got my terrible appliance when I was 10, and I told her what I remembered – it was an awful day, I was super nervous about getting some kind of "appliance" and then it was worse than I had imagined. It basically filled my whole mouth, and my dentist, who I liked before and after that, was pretty clinical about it when he fitted it. I couldn't talk at all, at first, and the idea of wearing it ALL THE TIME seemed impossible when I was sitting in the chair with it in my mouth for the first time. I can remember blushing uncontrollably when I finally walked out into the reception area, and then my mom and the dentist having a super loud conversation about it right there at the desk in front of the whole reception area. The first few days at school were the worst, but I actually did wear it all the time, except for eating, for a little over two years. Actually, there were three different versions of that appliance, if I remember correctly, but I'd just go in for an appointment and leave with the new one when that happened.

When I was telling Janice that story I remembered that then I got a retainer to wear at night and I wore that pretty religiously until I was about 14.

So we got to the office and then they came to get us. I was like "should we hug?" and Janice was like "let's high five", so we high-fived before getting braces.

"Good luck!" we said at the same time.

Then we went off to separate rooms. Dr. Amy was there, the same faculty old guy, and a different student who introduced himself as Dr. Lorenzo. Dr. Amy was happy to see me, which was weird since I'd really only spent an hour with her poking around in my mouth. She wasn't wearing her mask and I saw for the first time that she wore braces.

"I didn't actually know you had braces," I said as I sat in the chair.

"Oh yeah, you didn't see them last time. I'm 9 months in to this treatment."

"THIS treatment?"

"This is my second time. I wasn't as obsessed with moving teeth when I was a teenager and I wasn't very good about retainers ... and they're free here, of course."

"Of course."

"So Annika," Dr. Lorenzo said, looking straight at me, "as promised we've studied your models and X-rays and developed your treatment plan based upon that information and the consultation last month."

His chairside manner was very professional, I noticed immediately. I guessed that he had worked as a dentist before coming back to school for orthodontics.

"Great," I said, hesitantly.

"As discussed, we'll be able to unwind the slight crowding of all your teeth without too much trouble. As for your observation about the width of your smile, some minor palatal expansion is still possible even in your adult jaws, and we should be able to widen your arch for a very satisfactory result."

(I have to say here that I remember mentioning wider smiles but I was really just trying to answer their question and babbling a bit.)

"During the expansion phase there is an increased risk of unwanted molar movement, which we'll address with extra-oral anchorage. Overall, it's a fairly simple case, and my classmate Dr. Jack's estimate of 12 to 18 months of treatment still seems accurate with good cooperation."

Dr. Lorenzo looked at me and waited to see if I had a reaction. I'd read a bit about braces in advance of this appointment and one term alarmed me.

"I'm glad the estimate still holds up," I said. "Can you explain what extra-oral anchorage is?"

Dr. Amy answered: "Standard headgear in your case, Annika." She walked over to the counter and said "Here, we actually have everything ready to go over here," and then held up a metal facebow and a blue strap, folded neatly in half and still inside a plastic package.

"Um," I said. I have a problem where I'm at a loss for words at the worst times. This was one of them.

After a pause where they were maybe waiting for me to say more, Amy said: "I'm sure you've cleaned your teeth thoroughly, but we're going to want to give them an extra cleaning now and then we'll get started. Are you ready?"

She lowered the chair and deftly pulled out my spacers, and then got a lip-spreader thing which I vaguely remembered from years ago and carefully fitted it into my mouth. She added a plastic device that held my tongue back, and then connected a suction hose. Then she and Dr. Lorenzo brushed, flossed, swabbed, rinsed, and did a whole bunch of other stuff to my teeth.

"We're going to start by fitting your expanders and your molar bands," Dr. Lorenzo said, standing back. He went to the counter and held up two metal devices, each with four bands attached. "The upper one is activated by turning a screw. The lower one uses a spring action to push the palate wider. Both are precision fit to the models of your teeth, but the spacers will have moved things slightly so we'll probably have to make a few adjustments. We'll test how they fit, then take the lip-spreader out, test them a bit more and then cement them in."

Dr. Lorenzo tried the lower one, which didn't fit easily, I think, as it took him about 15 minutes of making adjustments and consulting with the faculty guy. Then Dr. Amy went to work on the upper one, which took less time. Once they were satisfied with the fit, they took them out and put them on the counter. Then they each test-fitted two molar bands on my very back upper and lower teeth, he working on the left side and then she the right. They took the bands out, and packed my cheeks with cotton rolls, and then removed the lip spreader. Dr. Amy now put the lower expander into my mouth and had me bite on a wooden stick held over each band in turn, which she said would help seat it completely onto the teeth. The faculty guy pulled on gloves and examined the fit and approved it. Amy removed the expander again, dried it and my teeth with some kind of air tool, then added cement to the bands and reinserted it. I bit down on the stick four times again, she and the faculty guy had another look, and then she shone a UV light tool on everything to cure the cement.

Dr. Lorenzo repeated that process with the upper expander, and then they went through a similar pattern with the back molar bands. Finally, they replaced the lip-spreader and replaced the cotton rolls.

I will say that at this point I was pretty shellshocked. Was this really happening?

"This next stage is much easier, Annika," Dr. Amy said. "Expanders can be a bit gruelling to install, but we made it. You're doing great."

Then they began putting brackets on my other teeth. I could sort of see my teeth and the brackets reflected in the eye protection they wore as they leaned over me, and I watched as they positioned each bracket on a tooth, got faculty guy's approval of the location, and then flashed it with that UV light. That part took less than an hour, versus the 90 minutes or so of fitting the expanders.

Dr. Amy then got the facebow she'd showed me earlier from the counter and she and Dr. Lorenzo both worked on it inside my mouth for a few minutes before returning it to the counter. Then they took out the cotton rolls and the lip-spreader and raised the chair. They gave me a cup of water to rinse with. My mouth felt so weird! I couldn't decide whether the brackets on my teeth felt weirder, or the metal devices on my upper and lower palates. Dr. Amy handed me a tube of lip moisturizer and I smeared a bunch onto my lips.

Holding up two curved wires, Dr. Lorenzo said: "Annika, these are your very first archwires!" I chose a light-blue color for the ligatures they used to secure the wire into the notch on each bracket, and they methodically put the archwires into position.

"How do they feel?" Dr. Amy asked.

"I'm not sure if I can answer that yet," I replied. My tongue kept probing the complicated device in the roof of my mouth.

"Well, this is your final step today," Dr. Amy said, once again picking up the facebow, "and then you're free. Do you have a hair elastic?"

I pulled the elastic from around my wrist and gathered my hair into a ponytail. Then I opened my mouth - because what else was I going to do? – and Dr. Amy slid the facebow into place. This time I could feel it reach the desired position, somehow through my teeth. It had been more confusing when they were fitting it earlier, but now I could tell that the two arms had some kind of intended resting place.

At this point Janice walked in and her eyes got very big. My lips had just closed around the facebow for the very first time.

"Holy ..." she said.

 






Offline erin_wires

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #3 on: 18. January 2018, 02:43:09 AM »
Great story! Cant wait for more!

Offline OtherNotion

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #4 on: 18. January 2018, 08:55:22 AM »
Great work, wish my school had such a program and that my Ortho worked at that pace. I waited months before my fitting.

Offline carking

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #5 on: 18. January 2018, 17:40:59 PM »
What a surprise going in for braces and walking out with upper and lower expanders and headgear! Awesome! Looking forward to the next post.

Offline jonjon

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #6 on: 18. January 2018, 18:54:58 PM »
Great so far I think Annika mite regret her decision.

Offline bugbathe43

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #7 on: 18. January 2018, 19:38:05 PM »
very good so far, I walked out of my orthodontist office my first day with a headgear too ;D ;D

Offline jay82

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #8 on: 19. January 2018, 00:50:08 AM »
So far, so good!

Online Braceface2015

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #9 on: 19. January 2018, 03:52:08 AM »
I added this story to The Archive. Keep up the good work. I am enjoying this story.

Offline radian

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #10 on: 19. January 2018, 13:37:58 PM »
Really great start ! I hope the next part will be published soon !

Offline kari

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #11 on: 19. January 2018, 16:28:01 PM »
Wow, what a great start. I love it!

Offline ortho218

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #12 on: 19. January 2018, 20:09:10 PM »
great story so far, keep it coming :)

Offline bracesfanza

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #13 on: 20. January 2018, 03:56:50 AM »
Fantastic story.
Cannot wait for more

Offline Wired_hg

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #14 on: 28. January 2018, 00:21:11 AM »
Very good detail in your story!  I like the direction this is going so please, do continue and let us know how these two characters interact with their new but different braces.

Offline sulfuras

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #15 on: 31. January 2018, 03:05:53 AM »
Love the story, please update!

Offline erin_wires

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #16 on: 31. January 2018, 04:49:51 AM »
I agree, great start and hope there's more to come!

Offline Jimmy m.

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #17 on: 05. February 2018, 07:47:01 AM »
Great story so far!

Offline bfat

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #18 on: 06. February 2018, 19:54:06 PM »
"We'll be about 30 more minutes and then Annika will be out," Dr. Amy said to Janice.

"OK," Janice said. "I'll see you outside!"

She smiled a big smile at me and I made an actual surprised sighing sound, because it definitely seemed like she was wearing clear braces.

Just as quickly as she'd come into the room, she left again.

"How does the facebow feel in your mouth, Annika?" Dr. Lorenzo asked. "Any discomfort?"

"It's actually smoother than the braces," I found myself saying. I noticed that I was lisping significantly. The two expanders were very unfamiliar to my tongue. As I finished speaking my lower lip caught on a lower bracket and I had to kind of purse my lips to get it over.

"Yes, that's definitely one advantage to it. It will protect your lips and the inside of your mouth from the brackets somewhat. You'll adjust to the brackets quickly, but in the early days the headgear will give you some relief."

Dr. Amy walked back over with the strap in its plastic package and pulled it out. It was a thick blue pad with two white strips, and looked pretty much exactly like what I'd seen on a couple of friends once or twice when I was a kid. She snapped each strip over the ends of the facebow and just like that I was wearing a neckstrap and could feel even weirder pressure on my back teeth.

Then she walked back to the counter and returned with another plastic package and pulled out another blue strap, this one obviously for over my head and also like something I'd seen on a few less fortunate friends years ago.

"So the configuration you're going to wear is what we call combination headgear," Dr. Amy said. "We're looking for anchorage, not movement, so we want to hold your molars exactly where they are. The neckstrap alone is called cervical headgear, and it has a force mostly straight back, but also very slightly downwards. We just want to take care to hold those molars in place during the expansion phase, so we're using this second strap to introduce a force that cancels out the slight downward pull."

"Yes," Dr. Lorenzo jumped in. "The forces exerted here won't be very great, so your headgear shouldn't cause too much discomfort on the teeth. The upper strap in particular will be adding only a very, very slight amount of force."

Dr. Amy pulled my ponytail through the strap and then attached the white parts to the ends of the facebow, on top of those already connecting the neckstrap. Then they got some kind of measuring device and kept hooking and unhooking the various straps and writing down measurements on a notepad. Dr. Amy did some calculations and then showed them to the faculty guy, who looked at them for several long seconds and then nodded and said "good". My mind kept going back to Janice smiling ... maybe with clear braces? What had happened here?

They returned and adjusted the straps again and then with a marker made some kind of mark on the plastic strips.

"OK, we're finished," Dr. Lorenzo said. "Now we'll show you how to take care of all of this."

Amy reappeared with a large square hand mirror and held it up. And there was me, wearing a complicated headgear, staring back. The two white strips of plastic crossed over each other on either side. They were both attached at the fourth or fifth hole from the end of the strip.

"First, the straps," Dr. Amy said. "We've marked the correct hole on each side of each strap. It's important that you wear it in exactly this configuration. We don't want it too tight – there's nothing that will happen faster, but it could shift your molars in a way we don't want. We're going to monitor this quite closely to make sure we've got it right. So you also should not cut off the excess plastic here, as we may decide we need to loosen the pull."

She unhooked the straps. "There's a small bit of stitching here and here," she said, holding them up. "These always go on the right side. That way you'll never get them upside down. Now if you'll open."

I opened my mouth. Metal braces, with the fat bar of the facebow connected into a receptacle on my back molar. Metal rings around pretty much all of my teeth except the front ones. I lifted my tongue and could see an elaborate device behind my lower teeth. I leaned my head back and saw the even more elaborate expander in the roof of my mouth.

Dr. Amy squeezed the facebow with her hand and slid it out of the tubes. "These half-loops," she said, pointing to bends in the inner bow, "always point up. Open wider," she said, and picked up a metal tool. "You fit the facebow by giving it a little squeeze and guiding it into these tubes on your back teeth. You can use your fingers to feel for the tubes and then it's pretty easy to slide the facebow into place."

She handed me the – my – facebow. "Give it a try."

I sat there for about 10 seconds, pondering the situation I was somehow in. Then I adjusted my grip to hold the ends and, using the mirror she was still holding up, found the tubes with my index fingers. I squeezed the bow and it slid in just as she said it would.

"OK, now take it out and try again." I did this three more times. After the last one, with it still in my mouth, Amy handed me the straps.

"Cervical strap first, then the head strap."

I found the little black marks above the prescribed holes and strapped on my headgear, watching myself do it in the mirror. Dr. Amy had me do this two more times and then had me take everything off and put it back on again.

"Great!" Dr. Amy said, seeming genuinely thrilled. "You're a master."

Dr. Lorenzo now stepped in. "Annika, your upper expander is activated by turning it with a kind of key. You'll do this yourself. It's very easy."

Dr. Amy handed me the mirror and Dr. Lorenzo showed me a small metal wire that looked like a bent paperclip, attached to a strap of nylon or something. In the mirror I watched him point with the key to the expander. "Now, here in the center of the expander, is a small hole. You just insert this key and rotate it towards the back of your mouth. Always put the strap around your wrist first, and that way you won't swallow the key."

"Huh," I sort of said, his hand still in my mouth.

"It happens," he said. "Now you can do the first turn. Just one quarter turn. You'll feel a bit of additional pressure on your teeth."

I took the key from him, pulled the strap over my wrist, and managed to insert it into the hole using the mirror. Then I pushed it back, and, indeed, I could instantly feel a slight buildup of force inside my mouth.

"That's it," Dr. Lorenzo said. "Turn the key exactly like that every third day. We'll give you a spare one in case you lose that one."

"You can take your headgear off now, Annika," Dr. Amy said. "So: You should try to wear it at least 10 hours a day. More than that is better."

I immediately began unstrapping it. Ten hours! A day!

"Suzie will come and see you now and talk to you about caring for your teeth and your appliances, and take care of you from here. Any other questions?"

"How long will I wear the expander and headgear?" I asked, still lisping even without a facebow.

Dr. Lorenzo and Dr. Amy looked at each other, and then Dr. Amy nodded at him.

"The expander should take about eight months," Dr. Lorenzo said. "But we'll check progress often and if we find it can be sped up, we will. It might also take slightly longer. We'd like to see you in a week to see how it is progressing and to verify that the headgear is holding things steady."

"And the headgear? Same time?"

"Given the movements and timings, we'll most likely want you to wear the headgear for the duration of the treatment," Dr. Lorenzo said. "But we'll re-evaluate once the expansion is completed."

They looked at me expectantly, I guess in case I had more questions.

"OK. Thank you," I said, although I wasn't sure if I meant it.

"You did great, Annika," Dr. Amy said. And they left the room while Suzie entered, as though choreographed. Flashing her immaculate teeth the whole time, Suzie talked to me about brushing, showed me how to use some weird threader things to floss, gave me a spare expander key, some wax, threader things, a toothbrush, a hard plastic case that my facebow could be kept in, a case that looked sort of like a pencil case for the straps, and a chart to record wear time, which she said I probably wouldn't use.

"Same time next week to check on everything?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

I put everything into my handbag. Then I headed out to the reception area, with 12 teeth banded, every other tooth sporting a metal bracket, expanders fixed into my jaws and the components of headgear in the handbag.

And there was Janice, smiling enthusiastically at me with what were definitely clear braces.

"What an ordeal!" she said.








Offline ortho218

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #19 on: 06. February 2018, 21:55:17 PM »
excellent story, thanks for the update! Looking forward to reading more :)

Offline erin_wires

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #20 on: 07. February 2018, 01:34:40 AM »
Great update! Already excited for more

Offline Jimmy m.

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #21 on: 07. February 2018, 09:39:34 AM »
Loving the story so far! Looking forward to the next update!

Offline carking

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #22 on: 07. February 2018, 17:25:08 PM »
Awesome!

Offline heilo

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #23 on: 07. February 2018, 17:51:40 PM »
Very nice Story!

Offline dooierick

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #24 on: 09. February 2018, 00:17:56 AM »
like it  ;D

Online Braceface2015

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #25 on: 09. February 2018, 01:59:34 AM »
I have added the latest chapter to The Archive.

Offline tg2002

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #26 on: 10. February 2018, 02:18:02 AM »
Great story

Offline c214

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #27 on: 28. March 2018, 21:09:29 PM »
@bfat what happened next... loved the story so far

Offline YBNO

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #28 on: 28. March 2018, 21:31:14 PM »
Great story, and as above, I wonder if it will continiue.  I keep checking back :)

Offline libtech

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #29 on: 29. March 2018, 12:42:41 PM »
Yan what happened? I was definitely way into this reading and then NOTHING :(

Offline erin_wires

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #30 on: 30. March 2018, 01:41:59 AM »
Hope it gets continued soon!

Offline brims

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #31 on: 23. April 2018, 23:51:33 PM »
This is such a great story! Thanks for your work and for sharing it.

Offline tsk

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #32 on: 24. April 2018, 19:10:56 PM »
Will be a shame if this isn't finished...

Offline libtech

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #33 on: 25. April 2018, 05:50:40 AM »
I agree. This was such a great lead in for a very good story...we want more!!!

Offline bfat

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #34 on: 25. April 2018, 16:54:23 PM »
Late October 2015

OK. I just couldn't write any more a few weeks ago. I was so mad at Janice.

So when she had her individual consultation, she asked more questions about getting clear braces. And it turned out the extra cost was just $400. So she went for it. She said she assumed I would have too, since I had asked the question in the first place during the consultation. But I don't really get why she wouldn't have said anything to me about that.

We're friends again, but I'm pretty annoyed.

Anyway, I've spent the last couple of weeks getting used to everything. I spent most of that first day just staring at my teeth. Janice and I went back to the residence and sat in the den and traded stories about our experience. She asked a lot more questions beforehand, so she knew exactly what was going to happen. She got clear braces on her top and bottom front teeth and metal on the back ones, and that's pretty much it. She has none of the molar bands I have, but they said she might need some when she wears elastics later. Her treatment is supposed to take 12 to 14 months. So of course she's going to be finished with her braces in a year and I'm still going to be wearing braces and headgear.

Yeah, that. I couldn't bring myself to put on the headgear or even take it out of its case until I had to go to bed the first night. Even now, it just seems insane: I wear headgear. Like, really intense headgear. Ten hours a day is actually a lot. In September we'd usually stay up and talk in the den until midnight or later, unless we stayed out later at a bar, and then I'd get up at 8 for 9 am seminars a few days a week or earlier to go to the gym. So that's like 7 hours of sleep, sometimes 6.

For the first week I just went to my room early, put on the – my – headgear and read. Well, the routine is more like: spend ages brushing my teeth and using floss threaders to get all the food out, wash my face, etc., and then put on my headgear. Fit in the facebow, then the high-pull strap, then the neckstrap. I can see the outer part of the facebow if I look down, and I can see the plastic pieces from the two straps where they cross over, and I can feel it on my head, like, the whole time I wear it if I think about it.

But after a week that was getting pretty boring. So now if we're hanging out in the rooms at night, I just wear it. People come in all the time and it's endlessly embarrassing, but it's only a few people, and it's either that or I don't make 10 hours. But then, if we go out for drinks or something, I don't wear it, so then it's scramble to get a few more hours in the next day if I'm back working at my desk. Basically, somehow, pretty much all of my scheduling and thinking revolves around wearing my headgear enough every day.

I've turned the expander every third day. It's super painful for the next 12 hours or so, so I've started doing that at night. I guess one cool thing is that I can feel my teeth moving and I think I can already see a difference. But I'm literally the biggest braceface in the whole college, by a lot.

After the first week I had another check-in appointment. They looked at the expanders but they seemed most concerned about the headgear. Dr. Lorenzo talked again about unwanted molar movement related to the expansion process. He said the forces seemed about right, and he and Dr. Amy were almost delighted when I talked about my devotion to nailing the ten hours. "We're taught to expect poor compliance for headgear wear," Dr. Amy said to me. Dr. Amy was wearing elastics this time, which were kind of crazy and I asked her about them: three in total: one on each side from upper canine to lower second molar (or something?), and one in "box configuration" at the front of her mouth. She said I've got elastics in my future but it was way too early to say if they'd be like hers.

Overall, they said, everything looked OK, but they planned to take a closer look at the "precision of the extra-oral anchorage" at my next full appointment, which is two weeks from now.

Offline carking

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #35 on: 25. April 2018, 17:46:44 PM »
Very nice!

Offline bfat

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #36 on: 25. April 2018, 17:58:26 PM »
Mid-December 2015

Not a great day.

Today was my second adjustment appointment since getting braces. And Janice's too, of course.

At the first adjustment, a month ago, they gave me new archwires, which are thicker and stronger (I guess each time you just get a slightly stronger wire, which, duh, obviously) and checked the expanders. Then they spent a lot of time on the headgear again, measuring the forces, taking the straps on and off. They took new X-rays and impressions, and they asked to see me again for a check-in two weeks after.

Janice, of course, was told her teeth are moving really well, and it's possible her entire treatment will come in under a year.

At the check-in appointment they had the new X-rays and the impressions and they again did a lot of looking at the headgear and those molars. Honestly, I really don't care if my molars move a bit. Who even sees them? But the faculty guy then talked to me – which seems to only be when they want to make sure I know this is very professional – and said it's about the bite relationship and that it's actually super important, even more than the aesthetic stuff that orthodontics provides.

"So at your next appointment we may reconfigure your extra-oral appliance in order to make sure we're on track," Dr. Amy told me.

So that was two weeks ago.

Today, first of all, Janice got elastics. Selfishly, I'm kind of happy about this as it makes her braces slightly more obvious, although they're sort of hidden further to the back of her mouth. And I also get the sense that elastics are a later stage thing, so somehow her progress is going crazily fast.

So I go in and they do the usual stuff first: remove the ligatures and the archwires, do a bunch of cleaning and poking around, adjusted something on both expanders, and then put in new archwires and new ligatures. I sat up to rinse.

"Oh yeah, you need my headgear now," I said, and picked up my handbag. I handed Dr. Amy the case with the facebow and the case with the straps.

"We told you about a reconfiguration last time," Amy said, putting them down on the counter. "So you're actually done with this facebow. We're going to try a similar one."

She went to another counter and came back with another facebow. It looked similar, but with the outer bow looping on either side just before the joining point with the inner bow. The ends of the outer bow had blue plastic stoppers on them.

"This is called a cushion-loop facebow," she said. "The wire loops around here, which helps to absorb some of the applied force. It lets us control the pressure more precisely."

"The problem we've been having with your headgear is that we haven't been able to control the direction of the force and the degree of the force as much as we'd like," Dr. Lorenzo said. "So this will help."

"OK," I said.

Then they lowered the chair, brought out a lip-spreader again and put it in. They both worked on the new facebow, adjusting it with what looked like pliers. After about ten minutes they showed it to faculty guy, who pulled on gloves and took it out and reinserted it a few times before telling them it was good. They took the lip-spreader out, raised the chair, and Dr. Amy gave me some lip-balm again.

Then they put the facebow back in.

"So we're also going to replace the straps you've been wearing with something that gives us more control," Dr. Amy said. She brought a clear plastic packet over and pulled out a small mass of blue straps. "This is called an Interlandi headgear. It's a single strap and it's easier to adjust the force exactly as we need it."

Dr. Amy arranged this thing over my head. It had a bunch of straps on top of my head that converged into a plastic piece at either temple. That plastic piece extended in front of my ears and then under them, back to near the corner of my jaw, where they were attached to a padded neckstrap. It felt like my combination headgear but much more elaborate. Dr. Amy and Dr. Lorenzo took a bunch of measurements and adjusted the straps, then removed everything, did something at the counter, and then put it back on. I could feel that it now fit more snugly.

"This appliance uses elastics to provide the force we need," Dr. Lorenzo said, holding up a small plastic bag of rubber bands. He and Dr. Amy then spent 10 more minutes connecting different sized (I assume?) elastics between the ends of the facebow and something on the plastic pieces in front of my ears. They used some measuring tool and wrote down various numbers, and then faculty guy again looked at everything and approved.

Dr. Amy handed me a mirror. I was used to seeing myself wearing headgear at this point. This was, in some ways, pretty much the same, but bulkier in every respect.

"There are two connecting pegs in the correct holes on each side of the headgear," Dr. Amy said. "You'll need to put everything on and then these elastics" – she handed me a baggie full of red elastics – "go from the top pegs to the facebow" – she connected two as I watched – "and these elastics" – she handed me another baggie of blue elastics – "go from the bottom pegs. When in doubt, B for blue, B for bottom."

I stared at myself in the mirror.

"Give it a try, Annika," Dr. Amy said.

I disconnected all the elastics and pulled the straps off my head. Then I reached into my mouth and slid out the facebow. Then I put it back in, pulled the straps over my head and neck, fiddled with the elastics and was wearing headgear again.

"Easy enough, right?" Dr. Lorenzo said. I nodded, reluctantly. "Ideally you should change these elastics every four hours, but if you sleep through it, it's not a huge deal."

"Annika, the other change we want to make is with wear time," Dr. Amy said. "We'd like you to wear this appliance 12 hours a day, preferably consecutive hours. Do you think that's possible?"

"I'll do my best," I said, for some reason. Why didn't I resist these things when they were happening? "Are we still on track for time?"

Dr. Amy and Dr. Lorenzo looked at each other. "It's still possible, but we've adjusted the expanders for now so that their progress is more moderate while we're resolving this anchorage challenge. So this might add a bit of time to the total treatment. It's still hard to say."

They asked me to make an appointment for a week later and for the day after I got back from Christmas break so they could check the headgear.

I got new cases for the new facebow and straps, a bunch of bags of red and blue elastics, and my old headgear ("if you want a souvenir," Dr. Amy said). I took everything off, thanked the orthodontists, and went out to meet Janice. I made two more appointments, plus one for later in January for my actual adjustment. Janice made a single adjustment appointment, same day as me.

So now I'm writing this at 10 pm the same day as that appointment, sitting at my desk in my room, wearing this thing called an Interlandi headgear, metal braces and two expanders. I've had the headgear on since 8 pm, and I will wear it till 8 am. There are four thick elastics that I can see out of the corner of my eye, two on each side.

I'm just not quite ready to hang out in the den with this. I can hear Janice out there joking with some friends about her elastics, her tiny little elastics. Oh well. Only twelve more months. Or more.




Offline brims

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #37 on: 25. April 2018, 18:33:28 PM »
Great stuff! Your tone and descriptions are terrific!

Offline libtech

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #38 on: 26. April 2018, 01:39:50 AM »
Keep going. Great story so far

Online Braceface2015

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #39 on: 26. April 2018, 01:52:59 AM »
The latest parts have been added to The Archive.

Offline bradhov

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #40 on: 26. April 2018, 01:54:46 AM »
nice addition to the story !

Offline carking

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #41 on: 27. April 2018, 17:44:03 PM »
It keeps getting better! Great job

Offline ekaj123

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #42 on: 30. April 2018, 08:29:33 AM »
Great story cant wait to read more.

Offline tg2002

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #43 on: 10. May 2018, 04:22:48 AM »
Awesome story! I'm always looking forward to the new instalments

Offline lemonlyman89

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #44 on: 30. December 2018, 22:11:22 PM »
Is there a continuation of this story?

Offline bracesfanza

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #45 on: 31. December 2018, 04:28:53 AM »
Cool story. Am enjoying it very much. Cannot wait for more.

Offline Misluposu

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #46 on: 02. January 2019, 21:24:22 PM »
Lovely story, thanks for posting!

Offline Hops

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #47 on: 27. March 2019, 11:22:56 AM »
Great story!

Offline dominek000

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Re: STORY: Short-term pain for long-term gain
« Reply #48 on: 20. August 2019, 02:23:08 AM »
Really greate story!