braces, at your age?

The first time I had braces was when I was 14.  I had 4 teeth extracted and had metal rings fitted over each tooth, and every month for about 3 years, visited my orthodontist to have my braces tightened.  And when they were finally removed, I was fitted with only an upper retainer, that I wore at night for about a year.  I don't remember any of my friends ever having lower retainers, either.  Anyway, teeth have a tendency to move back slowly if nothing holds them in place and that's what happened.

At age 64, I got braces...again.  

My bottom teeth had become so misaligned over the years that it became impossible to clean them properly.  I thought about straightening my teeth over the years, and always put it off.  But when my dental hygienist explained that it was beginning to effect the health of my gums, it was time to make a decision.

When you are an adult with braces, it doesn't sit quite right with most people.  Not that they care either way, it's just unexpected.  So when a 60 plus adult gets braces, people are actually shocked.  I get all sorts of responses from "I wish I had the guts" to "Why now? or "Why at your age?" I laugh it off, but it reminds me that many younger adults see the elderly as people who are just waiting to die. But that's another area of discussion for another time.

Age has little to do with whether you can get braces or not.  What does determine if you are a good candidate is the health of your mouth and your general health.

There are many options available today; ceramic braces, metal braces, braces fitted behind your teeth, and even invisible clear aligners that are removed when you eat. After 5 different consultations, I went with self-ligating.

Self-ligating braces look very similar to other braces and are made from the same materials. However, they don't require elastic bands to hold the arch wire that runs through them.  They have a clip that opens and closes to hold it. This means you need to visit the orthodontist less often, less friction on the teeth, easier cleaning and shorter visits to the orthodontist.

But it's not all roses.  When people say, you get used to them and you don't even notice them after awhile... NOT!  It's been nearly 8 months, and it still feels like I have a mile of railroad tracks in my mouth.  Although treatments are only every 8-10 weeks, I can hardly eat anything solid for a few days after each treatment. Eating in general, is harder; food gets caught everywhere.  Food does not taste as good.  I'm trying not to complain too much, though. A more attractive, healthier mouth is definitely worth a little suffering.

If you are considering braces, do your research.  Google it and consult with more than one orthodontist. I'm not suggesting you consult with 5, but do go to at least 2.  

my search for an orthodontist

No. 1 was in fact, not an orthodontist.  He was a dentist and he strongly recommended clear aligners, more popularly known as Invisalign. These are clear retainers that are computer generated. The retainers are changed every 2 weeks until the desired results are achieved.  They must be worn at least 20 hours a day and are more expensive than more conventional methods.  After doing some research I came to the conclusion that they were not for me.  If the work you need done is strictly cosmetic, clear aligners can be an option, but if you have a problem with teeth lining up, this is probably not the best choice.  

No. 2 told me I would have to have 2 teeth extracted.  Was she kidding?  I already had 4 teeth removed during my first round with braces 50 years ago and 4 wisdom teeth removed over the years.  I needed all the teeth I had left.

No. 3 was very informative and professional.  He told me about all the options available. He did not think Invisalign was right for me, but suggested going with self-ligating braces.  His prices were very high.

No. 4 had a beautifully decorated clinic.  The nicest I had ever seen. After a quick look into my mouth, he told me I would have to have 1 or 2 teeth extracted in my bottom jaw and suggested the traditional braces, clear on top and metal on the bottoms. He was against self-ligating braces. He gave me a price that almost made me fall off his fancy dental chair, more expensive than no.3.

At this point I was very frustrated and confused.  No. 3 was the best of the 4, but my gut feelings would not let me settle on him either. I had one last option.  

One of my customers at my day job who was in her early 40's and had braces, told me about her orthodontist several months back.  She recommended him, but warned me that he had an excellent reputation and relatively low prices, so getting an appointment could take months.  I dismissed it at the time because I did NOT want to wait any longer to begin treatment. After all, I am not getting any younger.  But now I wasn't in such a hurry.  I just wanted to find someone I felt good about. I made the call and waited 6 months for my first consultation and it was well worth the wait, everything I wanted:  professional, but friendly doctor and staff, an aesthetically pleasing clinic, and the price was surprisingly lower than the competition! 

This story isn't over yet. I will update when my braces are removed.  That is still 3-6 months away.

Month One

Month Seven

The Final Outcome


Aaaand here they are! One year and 4 months have passed and I feel like I have a new set of teeth. It still feels strange to suddenly be without braces.

I am very happy with the results. The condition of my gums has improved, too, and healthy gums are essential to keeping teeth healthy.

I would love to have whiter teeth now that they are straight, but my orthodontist advised me not to whiten. Whitening chemicals can weaken enamel and cause increased sensitivity in the teeth. There are natural methods, so I have started researching that option. I will update if I find something that really works.

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