Life

Finally, After Three Years, the Braces Come Off

And really, the title says it all.

It all began in August, 2006. I took Dude in to start phase two of the teeth straightening process.

Phase one began when he was in third grade. Dude had a narrow mouth — in essence, he had too many teeth for his mouth.

Or as I used to say, he had a head full of teeth. 😀

Because he didn’t have room for all of his teeth, they were coming in at strange angles and overcrowding one another.

So, I took him in when he was about nine, and they put him in braces. In addition to the braces, they also put in some sort of palate contraption that I had to stick a metal rod into and crank three times a day for two weeks. This stretched out his palate and made room for all of his teeth.

It was not fun, and it was painful for Dude. But it was either that, or pull teeth and I didn’t want to pull teeth — he needed those teeth, we just needed to make ROOM for those teeth.

They took the braces off after one year and said to come back in to start phase two after all of his baby teeth had fallen out.

So, shortly before he turned 13, I took him back in and they put braces on him again and we started the actual straightening of his teeth.

The Beginning of Braces - 2006

It’s been a looooong three years. He hasn’t been able to eat anything chewy (like taffy, Starbursts, caramel, etc), or to bite into anything, like an apple or corn on the cob. And he’s had to endure food in his teeth and cut gums.

And let’s not forget about the adjustments and the pain that went with those.

In essence, the kid has been through A LOT these past three years.

But even though we hated putting him through all of that, we knew it was necessary. We felt it was our duty, as his parents, to arm him with yet another arsenal to succeed in life.

Because let’s face it, if you have bad teeth, you are:

A. Self-conscious

B. Less likely to be hired (because if you look at it from a business perspective — who wants a person with bad teeth representing their company?)

C. Less likely to find a mate (who wants to kiss someone with bad teeth?)

D. More likely to take care of your teeth later in life if you’ve been raised to take care of them to begin with.

We are a family of bad teeth.

My husband’s family has had problems with their teeth. I can’t even tell you the number of times, or the amount of money, we’ve spent on Kevin’s teeth. Kevin’s father was so embarrassed of his bad teeth that he finally had them all pulled and now wears false teeth. His mother has had all sorts of cosmetic work done on her teeth because she too felt self-conscious.

Jazz had a funky cone tooth, growing right between his two upper teeth, and had to have it cut out when he was three. (That cone tooth was hereditary and ran in my husband’s family).

I have a teenage niece who has two teeth that STILL haven’t grown in because her gums are so thick that the teeth can’t break through them. This same niece also had a bottom tooth grow in sideways and had to have oral surgery to have it removed.

Two of my sister’s baby teeth had fused together into one tooth and she had to have it pulled out.

I’ve had two eye teeth that came out TWICE, EACH. I also have a small mouth (HA! I know what you’re thinking, hush), and one of my bottom teeth has come in behind my other teeth, but over the years, I’ve used my tongue to push it back into place which caused my lower eye tooth to turn sideways to make room.

When I was pregnant with Dude, I didn’t consume enough calcium and the little stinker started taking what he needed from me, which weakened a molar and caused it to break in half. This happened while I was pregnant, so I couldn’t really do anything about it at the time, and by the time I remembered, it rotted and I had to have a root canal.

So yes, we’ve had our fair share of teeth problems. And yes, it was bound to be passed onto our sons.

And today, after enduring so many years of pain, discomfort and inconvenience, Dude FINALLY had his braces removed.

His appointment was for 8:00 a.m. I woke him up at 6:30 so he would have plenty of time to eat breakfast and shower before we had to leave.

We got ready and I took a picture shortly before we left.

Before Braces Came Off
(Note the expectation on his face).

We arrived at the office, he checked in and they called him back right away (in fact, they were waiting on us to arrive).

For an hour and a half, I sat, read and fretted. I remembered back when I had sat in that same waiting room and waited for Dude to have his braces put on. I remembered his glassy, and somewhat pained expression, as he came out with a mouth full of hardware to meet me. I remember that first day and the pain he endured as his mouth got used to his braces.

And my heart bled. And I began to wonder if we had made the right decision, putting him through all of that.

But when they were finally done and he came out smiling from ear to ear showing off his perfect teeth, I knew we had done the right thing.

The whole dentist office stopped what they were doing, lined up in the hallway, turned up the muzak and clapped when he came out.

I had tears in my eyes (because I’m just emotional like that).

His doctor shook his hand …

At Dr. Bauer's Office

and they gave him a parting gift: a card and a cup wrapped in colored cellophane.

The background of the card was popcorn (another food that is a no-no if you wear braces) and said something about how nice it was to be able to eat the foods he wanted to now. And they also put a movie ticket into the card, too.

I thought that was so nice!

When he tore off the cellophane and saw that they had stuffed a cup full of candy in it, we all just burst out laughing. How ironic that his DENTIST gives him candy!

We thought it was hilarious.

Dude did say that there were a few moments, when they were removing the braces, that he panicked. Because the glue is so strong, they had to use pliers to yank it off his teeth. He said it would pop and he felt like they had broken his tooth. But it was all good and was merely part of the procedure.

So, the journey is over and Dude now has a mouth full of straight, pretty teeth.

After Braces Came off
(Note the easy, relaxed grin).

They did put a permanent retainer on his bottom teeth. It looks like this, only not quite as long. This will ensure that his teeth don’t shift out of alignment in the future.

I also have to take him back on Monday to pick up his upper retainer. He’ll wear that one at night to keep his upper teeth from shifting around.

Dude is also going in to have his teeth cleaned on Monday, too. Wouldn’t it SUCK if after all of that, he had a cavity?

That’s not even funny to talk about.

So. We’re done. Well, Dude is done. He can finally move past this teeth issue.

Now I can concentrate on Jazz. His consultation meeting is in September.

Our teeth saga is not quite over yet ….


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2 thoughts on “Finally, After Three Years, the Braces Come Off”

  1. My nephew is 13 and has had braces on for a few years, I forget just when they started. I hope they come off this summer, right before he starts grade nine. He hasn’t been doing as well looking after his teeth as your son. I don’t know if they would be straight under those train tracks but at least he could get them clean again.

  2. What beautiful pearly whites!

    I think it’s great his parting gift was a cup full of candy. It’s the perfect ending to a long time without the things that other people don’t think twice about.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

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