Wednesday, 21 January 2009

News travels fast!

Another milestone reached! Monday was the big First Adjustment day and I was feeling a little apprehensive, having read on other blogs that it can be quite a painful experience, but I needn't have worried. The whole appointment took only half an hour, and apart from one or two momentary sharp twinges as the new wires were pressed back into the brackets it was more or less pain free! Dr H replaced both the top and bottom wires with slightly thicker ones than before (I think) and announced he was very happy with the progess I was making. I must confess the technical details of what is going on and which wire is being used is rather lost on me. As long as i'm still on target for surgery at the 12 month mark and am not experiencing anything too painful i'm happy for him just to get on with it :)

At the end of the appointment I quizzed Dr H about my most pressing brace-related concern - staining! It's really important to keep teeth looking as good as possible during treatment, but i'm convinced that they're slowly turning yellower as the weeks go by. I seem to be spending longer and longer brushing in the bathroom in the hope that I can undo some of the damage. He told me that some degree of staining is virtually impossible to avoid, particularly for avid tea drinkers like myself but that scrubbing away like a mad woman won't help that much. He told me to swill with plenty of water after each cup, and said he'd put me down for a polish each time I get a new wire to make sure that any staining is kept to a minimum.

I also asked Dr H about any patients of his who had problems with their braces whilst away on holiday. I'm off snowboarding next week to France and am concerned about what to do if I end up mangling my brace in some huge collision on the slopes. Thankfully he didn't know of anyone who had encountered serious problems, but did recommend I take a pair of sharp metal nail cutters, so I could clip any pokey wires that were giving me a hard time. Errr... I don't think so! Any DIY dentistry I attempted would probably end up in a blood-soaked local hospital visit, so I think i'd just cough up for a trip to a local dentist if the worst came to the worst.

I attended an extended family gathering with A's relatives at the weekend, many of whom I hadn't seen in years, let alone spoken to. But it seems that someone has been spreading my brace news far and wide, as "Hi Discantus, how's the brace?" seemed to be the opener to just about every conversation I had. How did they know?? I suspect they all wanted to have a good nose at it though, and it's highly disconcerting trying to maintain a conversation with someone who can't seem to tear their attention away from your mouth. They also seemed determined to 'console' me, telling me that it will be worth it, and that i'll get through it etc etc, as though some dreadful fate had befallen me. It didn't seem to occur to them that this could be a positive experience, and that I actually rather like having the brace as it's taking me towards a lifelong goal. This really is symbolic of how behind the UK is in its attitude towards teeth, thinking that no-one could willingly choose to have a brace and how terrible it must be. I've decided to answer all future queries about it with a cheery "It's great! I'm really enjoying the whole experience". That should make them think a bit more!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Say cheese!

My first christmas in braces has now been and gone, and other than few exceptions, it's all been good! I had been expecting a few difficulties, such as forgoing more chewy food or getting my wires clogged up, but no! It's amazing how the human body adapts to new circumstances. I'm hardly noticing the brace itself any more, when eating, talking or looking in the mirror it's as if they've always been there (it's only been 4 weeks on the bottom and 7 on the top). Hope I can keep saying the same thing as my journey progresses.

One aspect, however, which is definitely NOT amusing me is my new appearance in photographs. I've been browsing through various shots of me taken over the christmas period and can't help noticing that my brace does not take a good photo. Not sure whether it's due to camera's inability to pick up the detail of a brace, but every picture taken of me from more than about half a meter away shows the inside of my mouth as a murky grey/brown smear, as though i'm suffering from some dreadful teeth-rotting disease! Even worse is when the flash catches one of the brackets and creates a twinkle, it just looks terrible. I have started to practice my mouth-closed smiles, but at the moment this just makes me look constipated. I think i'll stick to ducking behind other people from now on.

I also enountered a situation over christmas that reminded me not to get too complacent about eating out in braces. It was the 27th December and A. and I decided to check out the sales at a new shopping centre that has just opened in West London. Needless to say it was bedlam, and after several hours in the shops we were both starving. We looked around for food places, but they all seemed to be either packed out or had huge queues outside. We trawled up and down looking for anywhere that had space and finally squeezed into a french cafe, only then to realise that they served hard, crusty filled baguettes! I was so hungry I had a go cutting one up with a knife and fork (much to the amusement of the waiters) and when that didn't work, resorted to scraping out the filling with a fork and eating it that way. Hardly enjoyable, or diginified, so i'll remember to think ahead and take an emergency banana out with me in case I get caught out again :)

So it's only 10 days now until the dreaded 'First Adjustment'. Seems that some other ortho-bloggers have found this more painful than the initial fitting, so i'll keep some painkillers to hand, just in case. I also have a few questions for Dr. H which i'll report on in my next post, i'm tempted to ask about timescale until my surgery but it's probably a bit soon!