Thursday, June 20, 2013

The braces are on!

Hello again bloggerland!

A major event occurred a few weeks ago - I finally got my braces fitted.  Of course I wanted to update my blog straight away, but life has been super busy since then. With a work trip to Melbourne, then my own trip to Melbourne and a busy schedule, I've hardly had enough time to think.  Forgive my tardiness, I will make up for it I promise :)  Long blog post - beware!

So on Monday 27th May I had an appointment with my orthodontist to first remove my palatal/maxillary expander (my torture device) and then have upper and lower ceramic braces fitted (my new torture devices).  Having the expansion device removed was quite an ordeal because the metal bands of the device are glued to the teeth, so there was lots of pulling and quite strenuous physical labour (on the orthodontists part) to remove it from the jaw.  I usually have quite a high threshold for pain, but I must admit I winced a couple of times during the removal.  Now as you know I'm not going to shy away from the gory details in this blog - the smell was awful!  I couldn't believe that something that smelled so bad could be in my mouth.  My orthodontist explained that food gets stuck around the expander and some of it is almost impossible to floss/clean, so the devices are usually smelly once they have been removed.  Lovely.

Now for the braces - and for all the fuss made by many people that I know who have had them, I have to say that getting them fitted was not uncomfortable or painful and I actually almost fell asleep at one point.  Hats off to the amazing orthodontic team at Sydney Smile Specialists.  While I'm here, I may as well give them a plug - if you are looking for an orthodontist in Sydney, I really don't think you could find a more professional, friendly and caring team of people.  You can view their Facebook page by clicking their name above.

The ceramic brackets that will be adhered to my teeth, made by 3M.

The first step in getting the braces on is for the teeth to be prepared.  This involves popping a plastic device into the mouth to stop the lips touching the teeth, giving the teeth a thorough clean and then gluing each bracket to the surface of each tooth.  The majority of the brackets are clear ceramic, while a couple towards the back of my mouth are metal.  Having the lips away from the teeth ensures they are completely dry otherwise the glue will not adhere.

Ready to get the braces on

Once the brackets are on the wires are threaded (kind of) through the brackets.  One wire for the upper jaw and one for the lower jaw.  O-rings are then placed around each bracket (a little uncomfortable) which close the opening of the bracket and hold the wire in place!  Phew!  The wires are very flexible, but also have a tendency to want to retain their shape.  It is these characterises that apply tension to the brackets and so the teeth, and eventually move them into the original shape of the wire.  My orthodontist advised that I have a 'super-cable' on the lower teeth which is a stronger type of wire to move misaligned teeth a little faster.  That's a nice way of saying my lower teeth need a lot of work!

The whole process including the removing of the expansion device and the fitting of the braces took around 1 hour and 30 mins, with the braces taking up about an hour.  Not bad at all really.  And once my braces were fitted I couldn't stop looking at myself in the mirror - I'm so happy to finally have them on.  I was given cleaning and care tips and was on my merry way.

Here I am with my braces on

And you know how I love these beautiful close up shots

Over the next 4-5 days a couple of my lower teeth did get very sore, but I was told this was to be expected.  I took painkillers, ate lots of yoghurt and other soft foods and after a few more days the pain was gone.  Happy days.

One week later I had to visit the orthodontist again because even though I had my expansion device removed, I had to get a new metal arch fitted in the roof of my mouth.  This one is called a Trans-Palatal Arch (TPA) and it is designed to keep the expansion of the jaw stable and to stop the molars moving back inwards.  Yes, it's another metal device in my mouth but much smaller than the expansion device - in fact I hardly notice it's there.

Now to the downside.  Eating.  It's not painful or sore - just very inconvenient.  My upper and lower front teeth have never met, but before the jaw expansion the majority of my side teeth did.  Due to the massive expansion I have now undergone, only a couple of my teeth meet on each side.  This along with the gap in the front teeth (yes I know it will eventually close) and food getting stuck all around my braces make eating rather tiresome.  It's not due to the braces - they are just another obstacle in the way of me doing some serious chow down.  Eventually the braces will rotate my lower teeth outwards to meet my upper teeth, and of course there will be the main surgery next year, so until then it's a waiting game.  And the result will be worth it.

And that's all for now!  Hopefully you are still reading and enjoyed this post.  Feel free to leave me a comment or ask away if you have any questions.


  1. You'll have to be more inventive with less solid food for convenience I suppose! How long do they reckon until your lower teeth rotate out to meet your upper teeth? xx

    1. Not sure really Emma although I feel my bite changing all the time.

  2. Hi Andy.

    I've been reading your blog for the last couple of days. I just went through the same surgery as you three weeks ago. It's nice to finally read about someone undergoing this kind of jaw surgery. And I must say - you're certainly handling it better than me. :) Anyway, I just have one question; did your front teeth move a little bit back after you stopped turning the device with the result that the gap got smaller? It kind of looked like it in some of your pictures. :) Good luck with the rest of your journey. Soon done - congrats!


    1. Hey

      Thanks for reading my blog - I'm glad you are finding it useful.

      Yes the front teeth do move back a little after SARME surgery. It is natural for then to drift back together but ultimately the braces will close the gap.

      How are things going with your post surgery?

    2. I'm finding it very useful. Thanks! :)

      Things are actually going pretty great. The swelling is almost gone. But i'm not loving the gap! However, I just went to see my orthodontist yesterday. And I will be getting braces in a few weeks. So apparently I am going to have both the braces and the expander in at the same time. Mmh, mmh. A lot of metal in the mouth at the same time. ;-) Hope things are great with you as well.

  3. what happened to your teeth?.it looks gross..braces and invisalign can help you straighten your would look good sooner.

    1. Thanks for your message - although I'm confused by what you are saying. As you are commenting on a post called 'the braces are on' you should realise I already have the braces. Also, what happened to my teeth (as in my blog) is that I had my jaw widened which in turn created a gap. The braces are to simply close the gap. Not quite sure of the purpose of your post to be honest.

    2. Don't mind him, Andy. I am sure, by now, your teeth are coming along just fine. The braces look fantabulous! Update us, pretty please! Would want to see the improvements.

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  5. It's never easy to wear braces. You have to endure days of pain and hard time of eating, but like everything else, it'll not last forever. Your journey to correcting your set of teeth had just begun; expect more pains to come. You can always ask your doctor to prescribe a safe pain reliever. Good luck, Andy! I know that you can do it!

    - Rae Screen

  6. Dental braces will help you get the smile you have always wanted. So even if you suffer some pain and discomfort, you have to endure it. It'll be all worth it in the end. After a while of wearing those braces, you will definitely get comfortable with it and you'll surely manage to enjoy it on the next few months. :)

    Lon Hollman @ Your Celebrity Smile

  7. Indeed, there are going to be a lot of major adjustments once you have dental braces on. Eating is one that's most affected. Your way of speaking will be a little different too. But it's fun to see that you are well aware of these things happening in your teeth right now. Just keep to what your orthodontist advises you to do and you will be alright. Good luck!
    Lenita @ Dentist4Life

  8. Hi there mate,

    Came across your blog a couple days back and interestingly enough I'm going to be going through the same process (braces and bimaxillary surgery but instead of the SARME I'm having a 3piece 'Y' separation to my upper jaw to widen my upper). I'm also using Dr Stamotas and Dr Tsakiris for the procedures!

    Would love to see your progress in the last 8 months and whether you've undergone the 2nd surgery. Hope all is going well and good luck!