Twenty One-- In Braces

Last weekend was my 21st birthday! It was on a Sunday, so it certainly wasn't the typical 21st, but I had a blast. There was a Gopher Football game on Saturday, and my birthday on Sunday.
I went home Sunday morning to have brunch with my family, and then a group of friends and I went to a restaurant called The Cafeteria for dinner, so good! I came back to my sorority house for a bit, relaxed, and then went out to a campus bar with a small group of friends. Although it wasn't a lot of people, we had a really fun time :)

Some friends and I at the football game!

Me and the love of my life, my nephew :) My sister dressed him up in his 'My Auntie is the Best' onesie for my birthday brunch!

My first legal drink!

I wanted to make a post about this because age has certainly played a HUGE role in this whole process for me. I was originally told to do braces in high school, but due to major self confidence issues, I put it off. Then, come college, although I was a bit more comfortable with the idea, I was starting college, and was worried about the new people I would meet would think of me. Well, now I am celebrating my 21st birthday in braces, and am HOPING they will be off by my college graduation next December (wishful thinking)! It was certainly weird showing my ID at both the restaurant and the bar, because these braces make me look at least a few years younger!

This surgery is something that is very dependent on age. It's not something that can be done at an age where none of us cares about our appearance (that awkward stage that we have ALL had) because we haven't stopped growing. By the time we do stop growing, we have finally made it out of that awkward stage, and these braces seem to just throw me right back into that place I never wanted to go back to. I know that going through this, I am certainly not the only one who is having trouble dealing with having braces at an elementary-school-seems-like-ages-ago age. I do feel like many of the blogs I have read with people my age seem to have a more positive attitude about the whole process than I do, but compared to my thoughts on having braces a few years ago, I have done a complete 180. I can honestly say I cried at 18 when I was told I definitely needed braces. I have come to the point where I KNOW it is necessary, and there's nothing I can do about it. I have found that most people I meet don't bring it up, and anyone who does is typically a friend and is just curious about the process I am going through.

So to anyone who is really struggling with the age and appearance thing, you're certainly not the only one!

first appointment

I just had my first orthodontist appointment after 5 weeks of first getting my braces on. The OA told me we would only be changing my bottom wire, and the top wire would be changed at my next appointment. I was able to brush and floss my teeth without either of my wires on, and it felt so good! I also finally asked my orthodontist when he predicts I will have my surgery. I have been in a pretty big panic about it, because I have two summer field courses that I have to take up in northern Minnesota, and will be gone for three weeks to complete them in August. If I had the surgery too late in the summer, I couldn’t do the courses, delaying my graduation a year! Otherwise, I would have had to delay my surgery by 6 months! Anyway, Dr. Sletten told me that it was ‘very, very, very, very, very likely’ that I would be having my surgery in JUNE! Ah! I don’t have a date but at least I have a month! He said something big would have to go wrong for this to change, and he said I am right on track with my progress. I can’t believe it is only 9 months until my surgery, I anticipated it being much longer than that!

One thing that I think is helping speed up my progress is the system of braces I am using. I have self-ligating braces, which don’t use the ties around the brackets, but rather open up like a door to let the wire in and are closed behind it. I have read a lot about these, and have found that they are much less painful and are also a more accurate system. Dr. S also uses a new technology called SureSmile. This technology allows you to input all of your xrays and information about your teeth, and it creates the wire for you. This eliminates any guess work for the orthodontist, which allows him to be much more precise with keeping me on track! My next appointment is in late October, but I may post a few pictures before then.

and so it begins...

I can’t believe I have officially started this LONG, LONG, LONG awaited journey! I began looking into orthognathic surgery when I was in 10th grade. I went through an expander, Herbst appliance, and braces between the grades of 5-8. After getting the braces off, I wore my retainer ALL the time. I was very anal about it and did NOT want my teeth to move. When I got to the point of just being able to wear it at night, the problems began. I was always really thin, and it wasn’t until late junior high that I actually started to grow. I think that this caused my teeth to start moving fast, because I had problem after problem with the wire they placed behind my bottom teeth. It kept popping off and the orthodontist continued to glue it back on and it just kept popping off. It got to the point that my teeth were shifting, and when I would just wear my retainers at night, they got so tight that they were cutting into the inside of my mouth. I kept going back to get the retainer to shift to where it would fit again, but the problems persisted. I finally just kind of gave up, and it wasn’t until 10th grade that I really noticed how much my teeth had shifted back. My overjet from my front teeth had moved back to it was before, and my bottom teeth were beginning to overlap.

I went to see the orthodontist again when I was 16, because I was worried about the overjet not having been corrected. I was told that my lower jaw was underdeveloped and a bit misaligned, which finally gave me an explanation to what the cause of the headaches I had been experiencing for basically my whole life. Since I was a child, I have been getting such bad headaches to the point of migranes. I missed 42 days of school my junior year of high school because I just couldn’t deal with them. I tried strong migrane medication and got glasses to see if either of these would help get rid of the headaches. I now knew at this point that due to my upper and lower jaw not sitting together right, I was causing great strain on my jaw to force fit them together, causing these horrible headaches. I was unable to get the surgery at this time, as I wasn’t done growing. I continued to speak with surgeons and orthodontists, yet kept making excuses as to why I couldn't get braces. First it was because I was in high school, and HATED the idea of being judged because I was in braces. High school kids can be mean, and I just wasn't up for it. THEN I was beginning college, and I didn't want to begin COLLEGE wearing braces! A few semesters later, and I had finally made the decision that this was going to get done. BUT I was off to Australia for a semester! I arrived back from Australia on July 28th, and the braces were put on August 13th. I am now a senior in college, and have come to terms the best that I can with the fact that this surgery is necessary, including the braces, I am still under my parents medical insurance, and have decided that I am OK with having braces at 20. Trust me, I am not thrilled about them, but I am trying to keep a positive attitude and not worry about what anyone thinks. Like someone close to me said, anyone you care about won't care about your braces, and anyone who does care isn't worth caring about :)

I have been reading many blogs since I have started looking into this surgery, and they have been so incredibly helpful, I thought I could possibly help someone too! Something I didn't read much about was the beginning aspect of braces. I searched desperately for some answer as to when they were going to stop sucking so much! It took at least one full week to get rid of the mouth ulcers, and then another two weeks to get used to them being in my mouth!

I have my first orthodontist appointment tomorrow for my 6 week check up. I think they will be changing the wire and checking my progress. I will post again soon!