I never thought I’d be my age and have braces. I never got them when I was a kid, despite the fact that I desperately wanted them. According to my dentist they would be “cosmetic”. That’s code for “not covered by insurance.” I’ve never loved my smile, but it wasn’t horrible. No one called me a jack-o-lantern. Actually, no one ever mentioned my teeth. No insults. No compliments. Nothing to draw any attention. They were just a bit misaligned-nothing that needed intervention. At least not then.
The thing about teeth is they are constantly shifting. It’s why most of the time you wear a retainer after you get braces taken off. It keeps things from going back to where you were before you started-or worse. In my case I had my wisdom teeth removed in my early 20s. That caused a little shifting. Fast forward a few years and a tilted little tooth in the back started causing some pretty serious problems. There was bone loss. I could lose the tooth, then maybe other teeth. It was taking me down a road I had no desire to travel.
My dentist gave me a few options, one of them being braces. Sweet! 14-year-old me was ecstatic! No-where-close-to-14-year-old me was not so thrilled. A mouth full of metal at my age? No thanks. Luckily, with my dentist giving the thumbs up, I knew insurance would help. Yay, insurance! Seriously, they paid for about 1/5th of my total treatment. So not really “yay”. More, “kthnx”. But it was enough help to cover the difference between traditional braces and removable braces. That I could sign off on. I’m sure my baby face could have totally rocked a mouth of metal, but the idea of a plastic tray I could take in and out and would be virtually invisible seemed so much better.
You can see them.
Invisible braces? Not so much. Know that going in. I truly thought I was going to be in and out of there in a few months and most of the heavy lifting was going to be done in the back of my mouth. Nothing to see here! The truth? I have attachments on almost every tooth. Sometimes two attachments per tooth. What the heck? The attachments are little bits of dental bonding agent that serves a similar purpose to the brackets you see on traditional braces. They’re tooth colored so they’re not super noticeable. But they are noticeable. To me. I could count on one hand the number of people who’ve actually noticed them without me pointing them out. Wait. It could be that I actually know people too polite to mention it. In any case, they’re there. You can see them. You just sort of have to deal with that. Just remember that they’re far more visible to you than anyone else. And that just a few months? We’re working on a year and a half over here.
The shifting of my teeth hasn’t caused me actual pain. There’s been a ton of soreness, though. Each time I put in a new set of aligners they’re tight and uncomfortable for the first two days. If I remember, I pop a few ibuprofen when I put in a new set. I usually forget and suffer the consequences. Don’t follow my example! Take something on the day you put in new trays. It really does help. Also, orthodontic wax is your friend. If I had a time machine, I’d go back in time and tell myself to buy some before I ever got my first set of aligners. Actually, I’d go back in time, buy some lottery tickets, then I’d tell myself to get the wax. Priorities. At this point I rarely use it, but in the first few weeks that wax was a lifesaver. Your mouth definitely has to take its time to get used to having hard trays in it squeezing your teeth. The wax covered up any sharp edges or places where it felt sharp, even though it really wasn’t. I’ve also had a few attachments cause me issues. If they’re cutting your cheeks or tongue, that’s not OK. Get thee to your orthodontist. They can file them a little and it will make a huge difference.
Taking them out isn’t all that fun.
I’ve heard stories from people who spent all day trying to figure out how to get their removable braces in and out of their mouth. Honestly, that was never my issue. I got that part right away. Even when I went back for refinements (yeah, that’s another thing…they’ll probably course correct your treatment as you go along) and they added a button and elastics to the mix, no big deal. I wasn’t thrilled to have rubber bands in my mouth, but…I didn’t have a problem getting it on and off. The whole taking them off before you eat and before you drink anything that’s not water? That’s annoying. It’s a total hassle when you’re in a restaurant. Where are you going to put them? Do you go to the restroom to take them out? Did you forget your case? How are you going to clean them when it’s time to put them back in?
My friends will tell you I have no shame anymore when it comes to popping out my braces right at the table when we’ve gone out to eat. It’s been over a year. I am over it. I have forgotten my case more times than I can count and I *knock wood* have miraculously managed to not throw away whatever napkin I stash them in when my case isn’t around. So in a perfect world, every time you took out your braces you would brush your teeth and thoroughly clean your aligners before putting them back in. This is so not a perfect world. So, so far from it. Luckily there are Fresh Guard Wipes. You don’t need water. Just take your aligners and wrap the wipe around them, using your fingers to work the wipe into the crevices. Once you’re done you’ll have squeaky clean braces and a fresh, minty taste. The tiny little packs are ridiculously easy to carry around so there’s no need to go anywhere without them. Stash a few in your purse and your wallet and you’ll always be prepared. When you’re at home, use the Fresh Guard Soak. Fill a glass with warm water, tear open one packet and pour in the contents. The solution will foam and turn blue. After about five minutes the solution will turn clear. That means it’s time to take them out, rinse them off and wear them again. I’ve tried to clean my aligners with my toothbrush-not a fan. I’m not sure why, but the wipes and soaks seem to leave them cleaner and tasting fresher.
Fresh Guard Wipes and Soak by Efferdent have solved at least one of the annoyances when it comes to removable braces. Now just remember that no one other than you can probably see them, to take some ibuprofen before you put in new trays, and to keep some wax handy, just in case. Whether it’s you or someone you know in removable braces or with a mouthguard or retainer, I’m giving you the chance to try out Fresh Guard for yourself. One of you will win a prize pack that includes Fresh Guard Wipes, Fresh Guard Soak, and a Fresh Guard branded retainer holder and mirror. Just enter in the RaffleCopter below!
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