My lingual braces experience: one year on

One year without braces

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been one year since I had my lingual braces taken off and one year I’ve been enjoying my new smile! I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with replying to your comments but I hope you are all getting along well with your journeys. Some of you must have your braces off too by now… what’s it like to be brace free!?

As for me, I haven’t looked back since having my braces removed. I have to admit that I do feel quite surprised about the difference being able to smile freely has made to my self-confidence. Before my treatment I was aware that I hid my smile, but I only now realise how much I really held myself back. It sounds like an overstatement, but it’s actually really liberating to smile and laugh in social situations without a second thought.

5 things I’ve learned about life without braces

There are different kinds of smiles: of course I smiled before I had braces, but because I was self-conscious about my teeth, it was always a guarded sort of smile. A small smile. A turned-way smile. A smile turned into a giggle so I could put my hand over my mouth. Now my teeth look good my smile is a real smile: free, open and spontaneous. When something’s really funny I laugh like a crazy woman with my mouth open and I mess around pulling cheesy faces in photos. Smiling is a laugh!

I love lipstick: before I had my braces I would never wear lipstick… why would I frame my worst feature? Now I realise the fun I was missing and I even have a bright red one in my collection!

Retainers are fine: when I started my lingual braces treatment I was aware I’d be fitted with retainers when I finished, but it seemed such a long way off I didn’t think much about it. At the appointment when my ortho removed my braces he fixed a very thin wire behind my front six teeth top and bottom. It’s almost completely covered with white dental cement so isn’t at all sharp or uncomfortable and barely visible. After that he also took moulds and two weeks later gave me my removable retainers which look very similar to clear Invisalign aligners. I wore them every night for 2 months and now wear them 1-2 nights a week. It’s actually quite comforting to wear them and know my teeth are still in their intended shape. The idea is that the fixed retainers keep my front teeth in place and the removable one maintains the back teeth.

Confidence comes from within, but it’s outside people see it: it never meant much to me before, but when you smile, the whole world really does smile with you! I smile at neighbours I pass in the street, people in shops, clients I meet at work and everyone feels happier and more comfortable because of it. When I smile I look more confident, however I might feel inside, and that makes people feel more confident and comfortable with me.

Food tastes better when you’ve had braces: Ok, so it probably doesn’t taste better, but I certainly appreciate it a whole lot more! Unless you’ve been banned from eating certain foods, you can’t imagine just how pleasurable a hunk of crusty French bread or a handful of peanuts can be!

Your brain can’t remember pain: I don’t know if there’s any scientific basis to this, but it’s hard for me to remember now how bad the pain of my braces once was, let alone imagine it. Without this blog as evidence, I’m not sure I would really be able to recall the torture of those early weeks at all. If you’re in the first stage of your treatment, remind yourself that it’s a temporary sacrifice for the joy of smiling for the rest of your life. Everyone’s different, but for me the instant my braces came off all the sacrifice was immediately worth it. My only regret is that I didn’t / couldn’t do it sooner.

 

So what’s next for Inside I’m Smiling?

I started this blog because I knew, from my own experience researching lingual braces, how difficult it was to find personal accounts from people who had actually been through it themselves. I wanted to document the changes in my smile as my treatment progressed and share the trials and joys of my journey in the hope that I could fill that knowledge gap to make it easier for others to decide if lingual braces were for them. What I have been amazed by is how many of you have taken the time to comment on my posts and share your hopes, fears and experiences too. Now that my treatment is finished, the question I’ve been asking is “what happens to Inside I’m Smiling now”?

My biggest hope is that those of you who have discovered Inside I’m Smiling keep using the comments as a place to share and support one another. As I take a step back, I really hope that readers who have their own experiences will help those who are still considering their options. My diary is closed, but please do carry on using this blog as a place to help each other and keep the knowledge flowing.

I’ve also arranged for my orthodontist, Asif Chatoo from The London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic, to keep an eye on your comments and help out with expert advice where he can. Soon I’ll be adding a page with an interview with Asif to answer some of the most common questions patients ask him so do feel free to make use of his experience! He will have his own author profile so you can see which answers are provided by Asif and his team.

Finally, I want to say is a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you who have visited Inside I’m Smiling and especially those who have added their comments. During my time with lingual braces your support meant so much to me, and it’s made me really happy that my little blog has perhaps helped a few people take the first steps on their journey to a more smiley life!

Good luck, chin up and keep smiling!

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My top braces are off!!!

I know I haven’t posted for a long time – my appointments since the last post have been the same so there hasn’t been much to report. New wire, a few days of sore teeth then back to normal again.

But on Friday I had by top braces off and it feels amazing!!! I love my new smile and it’s so good to be without the brackets. There’s a tiny wire fixed behind my front top teeth to keep everything in place until I get my retainers in a couple of month’s time. My bottom braces comes off at the end of July.

I will post photos of my finished smile soon – just wanted to add a quick update!

Forth braces adjustment

I’m a bit late posting these photos, which were taken before my forth lingual brace adjustment last week. It’s now SIX MONTHS since I got my braces, which feels like my first real milestone. If my teeth are finished at the lower end of my treatment estimate (18 months) that means I’m one year away from a brace-free smile!

Inside I'm Smiling lingual braces blog w410{Photographs © Inside I’m Smiling}

During my forth lingual brace adjustment my ortho used a stronger wire for the first time and seemed to spend a little longer than before putting little bends and kinks into the wire to shape my teeth. He said that my teeth are moving really well so I was happy about that.

As usual my gums were quite painful for the first four/five days while the teeth were moving. However, I now have no tongue pain at all to speak of and don’t have any real trouble eating either, so long as I stick to sensible foods. Overall I’m feeling really happy with how things are progressing and the way my smile is beginning to look. Referring back at my teeth looked before lingual braces the transformation is already amazing!

How’s your treatment coming along? I’d love to hear how you’re doing in the comments!

X-rays before lingual braces

Don’t worry folks, Halloween hasn’t come early… I was backing up my computer this weekend and stumbled across the x-rays I had taken before my lingual braces were made. So, I thought I’d share them with you:

I’m no expert and don’t really know what these x-rays show from an orthodontic perspective – although you can see my overbite in the photo above. I now have some kind of dental cement stuff on my back teeth to stop my teeth ‘clashing’ when I bite together, which would risk my brackets being knocked off. See this post for more about how my ortho changed my bite when fitting my braces and how this made it difficult to eat.

{both © Inside I’m Smiling}

You can also see my wisdom teeth right at the back, which haven’t come through yet. One of the things I need to ask my ortho is what I should do if they do erupt in future because I’d be distraught if they pushed my teeth out of place again. I’m 28 now… does anyone know if they might still come through at my age?

The other thing that’s interesting about these x-rays is how deep the roots of the teeth go. I am soooo pleased that I didn’t have to have any extractions before getting my lingual braces as the very thought scares me to death. It’s incredible to think how orthodontics has changed over time – when I was a teenager and supposed to have traditional braces they planned to remove four teeth. Now, my ortho plans to file a little of the enamel between some of the teeth to create a little extra room if needed, but no teeth need to be taken out at all. Amazing huh?

Did you have to have teeth extracted before you got your lingual (or other) braces? I’ve had a couple of comments from people who have and I’ve heard it can be quite traumatic and difficult to come to terms with the gaps…

My teeth: four months into my lingual braces journey

Hello again! It’s about four months since I had my lingual braces put on and I’m getting ready for my third new wire tomorrow. Here are a few photos of how my teeth are looking at this stage.

Inside I'm Smiling lingual braces blog{© Inside I’m Smiling}

This is really the first point where I’ve started to feel confident about my new smile. Since my last update I’ve grown happy to show my teeth when smiling in photos (something I never did before) and I’ve even worn red lipstick for the first time… again, something I never would’ve done before as I always avoided drawing attention to my mouth!

When I decided to get lingual braces I was excited by the idea that 18-22 months later I would have a smile I could show off. I know my teeth aren’t perfect yet, but I’ve been surprised at how my confidence has grown after a relatively short time and I can start enjoying smiling even before my orthodontist has finished his work.

However, I need to start practicing my new smile! For so long it’s become second nature to keep my lips closed whenever there was a camera pointing in my direction. Now I have to keep reminding myself that I can smile properly…but it still feels very strange to me!

Inside I'm Smiling lingual braces blog{© Inside I’m Smiling}

You can see from the photos of the inside surfaces of my teeth that I had proper brackets fitted to all my teeth at my last adjustment appointment. As usual, I experienced some aching pain for about the first week but since then I’ve been feeling pretty comfortable with my lingual braces.

The tongue pain I experienced at the beginning is almost gone. Now I just have the odd day of achy teeth between adjustments. My speech is more-or-less normal again (I still need to concentrate hard when I need to make an ‘st’ sound but I don’t think other people really notice anymore). Eating with my braces is ok too – again, when my teeth are aching I opt for softer foods again but in general I feel I have much more choice about what I can eat with braces than in the early days. It’s the food getting stuck in the wires and brackets that’s most annoying now!

So, wish me luck with tomorrow’s appointment. And thanks to those of you have left me comments recently about your journeys with lingual braces or your decision process in improving your smile. Don’t forget, you can add your comment by clicking the speech bubble symbol at the top of every post. It’s so nice to hear from others with similar experiences and your comments make writing this blog worthwhile 🙂

Second adjustment tomorrow

Just stopping by to let you know I have my second adjustment tomorrow – three months into my lingual braces journey.

Here’s a photo so you can see how things are coming along…

Inside I'm Smiling lingual braces blog{© Inside I’m Smiling}

I’ve taken the photo slightly from the side so you can see that the teeth to the left of the centre are straightening up really nicely. The tooth that protrudes most on the right-hand side has tilted back too and you can see there’s now plenty of space either side for it to move into. By attaching that tooth to my wire at my first adjustment the front tooth next to it was pulled forward slightly too (it was pretty much straight before) so that now needs pulling back a little too.

So, tomorrow I’m hoping that my ortho will attach proper brackets to the final three teeth that haven’t got them yet (one at the top and two at the bottom with currently just have little buttons) so my treatment can really get underway.

My teeth have moved really dramatically during the past three months since I first had my lingual braces fitted and I am already feeling more confident about showing my teeth when I smile, something I tried not to do before.

I’m prepared for another week or so of achy teeth starting tomorrow but overall everything’s going really well!

REVIEW: Wax vs Gishy Goo

Brackets and wires are nasty contraptions to have in your mouth, so you’ll want to be prepared with something to smooth them off. Doing so helps with tongue pain and speech… but which product to use? Orthodontic wax is the most widely available option, while Gishy Goo is a more recent innovation.

I’ve used both on my lingual braces and thought I’d put them head to head in my very first product review to help you decide.

{© Inside I’m Smiling}

THE CLAIMS:

WAX: “Orthodontic wax helps to protect your mouth and makes you more comfortable in those difficult first months of treatment.  The best way to apply orthodontic wax is to tear a small piece off and rub it into a ball, then gently apply it to part of your braces that has been causing discomfort.  The wax should then cushion the irritated area and prevent further discomfort.”

GISHY GOO: “Gishy Goo is a soft, squishy material you can put on your braces to keep them from poking and rubbing your mouth. It’s made from the same material dentists use to take impressions of your teeth. It stays in place better than wax and provides lasting comfort for lips and cheeks.”

COST:

WAX: buy from this online store and a single container of wax will set you back £0.85p (€1.01). In reality though, your orthodontist will probably keep you stocked up for free. You’ll get around 8-10 applications from each container.

GISHY GOO: buy from the same online store and one pack of Gishy Goo costs £14 (€16.67). I haven’t seen it for sale in any physical shops in the UK so you may have to pay postage too. Again, expect 8-10 applications per tube.

WINNER ON COST: WAX

APPEARANCE:

WAX: thin strips of clear wax come in small plastic containers that are discreet and small enough to slip into your pocket or purse. The ones from my ortho have sparkley bits in the plastic box – but in the name of unbiased reviewing, I’m not awarding extra marks for that 😉

GISHY GOO: comes in a big-ish cardboard box that with cartoon characters that are obviously designed for the child/teenage market. The Gishy Goo itself comes in a plastic syringe with two separate chambers that looks like something you might use to inoculate cattle. Hmmm. The silicon itself is white when mixed, although I believe you can also get garish coloured versions if you’re that way inclined.

WINNER ON APPEARANCE: WAX

EASE OF APPLICATION:

WAX: the instructions that come with the wax simply state that it should be rolled into a ball between your fingers and applied to dry brackets. The problem with a lingual brace is that it’s almost impossible to get the brackets at the back of your mouth dry enough to make the wax stick as your tongue is so close… and usually it’s those back brackets where you really need it. Thumbs down.

GISHY GOO: use the ‘syringe’ to dispense a little Gishy Goo from each side of the tube onto your finger and mix together to activate it. You get a small window of opportunity to apply it to your brace between activating it and it drying too hard to stick. Get it right and Gishy Goo will stick fast to damp brackets, even at the back of your mouth. However, miss the window and you’ll be left with a hard, rubbery piece of silicone that’s no good for anything.

BEST FOR EASE OF APPLICATION: GISHY GOO

TASTE:

WAX: my wax doesn’t taste of anything and that’s just fine by me. I believe you can also buy mint flavoured wax if you prefer.

GISHY GOO: presumably another attempt to appeal to the teenage market Gishy Goo is bubblegum flavoured…why?! The only godsend it that at least the taste doesn’t last that long so you’ll only notice it for a few minutes after application.

WINNER ON TASTE: WAX

STAYING POWER:

WAX: because it doesn’t stick fast, it doesn’t take much to dislodge the wax. It’s a real pain to have to remove it every time you want a cup of tea or a yogurt and unless you’re in serious discomfort you might well decide you can’t be bothered with the hassle. Apparently it’s not harmful to swallow wax but I expect most of us would rather not!

GISHY GOO: will easily stay in place overnight (when your tongue can get really sore) and although you’re not meant to, it will stay in place for hot drinks and soft lunches like soup. In the first few weeks with your brace, knowing you have a tube of Gishy Goo in your bag that will stay in place and protect you from pokes and scrapes whatever you throw at it is a real confidence-booster.

BEST FOR STAYING POWER: GISHY GOO

EASE OF REMOVAL:

WAX: tends to break into little pieces when you try and remove it so this can be a time-consuming and fiddly job. I found that I needed to brush my teeth in order to feel I’d properly got rid of it, which was annoying when I had to do this every time I wanted to eat (the reapply it again afterwards).

GISHY GOO: is easier to remove than wax as it tends to hold together in one lump – grip it in the right place with your fingernails and you’ll probably get it all out in a couple of goes. On that point, it’s worth mentioning that if you bite your fingernails, invest in a pair of tweezers!

BEST FOR EASE OF REMOVAL: GISHY GOO

CONCLUSION:

There’s no escaping the fact that Gishy Goo is expensive but if you can I’d recommend you invest in a couple of tubes when you first get your lingual braces. You won’t need it throughout your treatment but there were times at the beginning when I was in a lot of discomfort that I was so relieved that I had some Gishy Goo in my bag. However, if you can apply it properly, wax and Gishy Goo are equally effective in smoothing sharp areas and giving your mouth a break from rubbing. Even though I’ve had my braces for six weeks now I still carry both with me at all times (for reassurance as much as anything) and Gishy Goo was a great solution when I suffered a broken bracket moments before a fun night out.