my two year journey with braces…

by Kaylah Stroup
I’ve been meaning to blog about my braces since I first got them two years ago. It was something I was going to talk about often, photograph weekly and just generally journal about. But I ended up not doing that…at all. I barely have any pictures of my braces at all, but I have even less before pictures of my teeth.

My dentist was kind enough to email me 3D files of my teeth both before and after (dude, they’re really neat!) I converted them to flat files so I could share them here because they’re just about all I have. Here are my teeth before I got braces…

 (And here’s the before picture from the orthodontist – if you really must see. It’s not cute.)

I used to say they were the only thing about me I’d change. I was uncomfortable with my smile and would basically delete any picture showing them. Hence the fact I don’t really have any. My smile was fairly straight until I was 14 or 15 and lost one of my last baby teeth. It was my left canine tooth (the right one in the above image) and when my adult one came in that sucker was so crooked. Something about it made me realize what a mess the rest of my teeth were. I asked my parents on multiple occasions for braces but they always declined. I tried to forget about it and just learn to love them but it never worked.

Finally two years ago I had had enough. I needed them fixed. I made an appointment with my dentist so I could get a recommendation to an orthodontist. My dentist said my problem was I had “too many cars in the garage”. My mouth was too small for all my teeth to fit properly and I would most likely need some teeth pulled but ultimately that would be up to the orthodontist.

I visited two orthodontists before choosing the one I’d have help me with my teeth. It was important to me to feel comfortable with who was in charge of making my smile beautiful. The first guy I visited had a bad attitude, smelly gloves and some dirty looking tools. The second orthodontist I met with was perfect. My consultation went super smoothly, and we’d be able to get my braces on the next week which was important to me. I’m a get it done yesterday person. When I decide I want something done I want it as soon as possible so there couldn’t have been a better scenario. He also agreed I’d need some teeth pulled. Eeep!

A week later I had braces…

(March 2011, Isn’t it strange how much different I look!?)

I hated them. I cried and cried and cried when I saw myself in the mirror at home. They felt huge. I regretted getting them. I cried about how I really loved my teeth and that this was my biggest mistake ever. But I already had a hefty down payment on them and it would be so stupid to have to go back and ask for them off so I sucked it up. It definitely took time to get used to how they looked and felt but eventually I did.

The next month, in April 2011, it was time to get some teeth pulled to make room for the rest of my teeth to straighten out. I got four teeth pulled as well as getting my wisdom teeth removed at the same time. It was probably one of the worst experiences ever. The gas they had me hooked up to just made me ultra aware of what was going on, basically like an out of body experience. I couldn’t feel any pain but I could feel pressure. It totally freaked me out how easy it seemed the dentist was able to pull out my teeth (which might have given me a bit of a complex about my teeth falling out…) It felt like it lasted for ever. Of course, getting your teeth pulled isn’t going to be a pleasant experience but it was really horrible for me. The only plus side was I got to take my teeth home which was maybe a little too important to me. (You wouldn’t believe what a hassle it was to find a dentist who’d let me take them home. There were a few mishaps and maybe some tears shed about the whole thing. I ended up getting my teeth pulled by my regular dentist even though he doesn’t accept my insurance just so I could keep my teeth)

Like I said, braces were kind of hard to get used to at first. I didn’t know how to hold my mouth. I had trouble eating a lot of things because my mouth was so sore. The back corners of my mouth were constantly raw from the wires cutting into them each time my teeth would shift just so slightly. Luckily this stage only lasted a month or so. After that the next two years flew by. It really was done in a flash.

Only after looking back do I realize how funny mouth looked and how many little changes my face made. For a long time it looked like I had a big wad of dip in my lip because of my lower braces. (Luckily, I never noticed until I started looking back at pictures or else I would have been super self conscious about it. Haha!)

 (After braces model)

Even with all the pain (I swear it’s not that bad!), silly instances of my lip getting caught on my braces, food stuck in my braces and other not so great things they were 100% worth it. Of course, at times I felt funny being the only person in the orthodontists office over the age of 20 that wasn’t there with a child*. But I have the teeth I’ve always dreamed of having now. I’m confident when I smile. I might even be smiling a little too obnoxiously now. I mean, when you spend a great deal of your life trying not to smile with your teeth and now they’re super pretty it’s kind of hard to keep them in your mouth! I catch myself staring at them in the mirror quite often and have actually gotten into the habit of taking better care of them Hello floss, nice to meet you again! I hope this feeling lasts forever. It’s been two months and it only seems to be getting stronger.

Aaaand that’s that!

*Just last week when I went for one of my check ups at the orthodontist I saw the father of a child my nephew goes to school with who recognized me from plays, baseball games, etc and said “Oh, are you here with your child?” Yeah….no. I awkwardly responded by pointing at my teeth and saying “I had braces, they’re off now” Ugh, I fail at interacting with strangers. Haha!

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