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!


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!

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 🙂

First adjustment – pictures

It’s now two months since I had my lingual braces fitted and last week I visited the orthodontist for my first adjustment and new wire.

The appointment was pretty straightforward – around 30 minutes – and didn’t involve the mouth stretcher things or tongue guard that were used when my braces went on so it wasn’t uncomfortable. Here’s how things look now…

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

The left-hand side of my upper teeth is looking really good (that’s the right-hand side as you look at the photo). However, the most exciting thing is that the tooth that protrudes the most (and bothered me most) has now been connected to the wire. I hadn’t expected that the happen so soon, so I’m really happy. You can see better from the inside view of my top teeth:

Lingual braces blog - Inside I'm Smiling{© Inside I’m Smiling}

At the moment it doesn’t have a bracket – the wire has just been attached to the tooth using white dental cement stuff. The orthodontist said that there was actually space to put a bracket on, but because of the angle the tooth sticks out at it would’ve been visible from the side, so to keep my lingual braces invisible he’ll  tilt it back slightly by just fixing the wire like this, and then attach a proper bracket next time I have an adjustment at the end of April.

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

On my lower teeth, the teeth that didn’t have anything on before (read about when I had the lower lingual brace fitted here) have had little metal ‘buttons’ attached [2] and elastic things have been attached to those [1] and along the brackets further back.

For about the first 7 days after the appointment my gums were really achy and it was sore to chew again. However, that kind of tooth pain is a lot more manageable that tongue pain because it responds well to painkillers so I took ibuprofen for about 4 days to help.

One week on, everything’s fine. The only one that’s hurting now is the front tooth next to the pokey out one – it’s actually been pulled out of line slightly but not that anyone would notice. Also, one of the elastic bits snapped so I need to contact the orthodontist to get that sorted out too. Oh, and my lisp has neeearly gone – yay!

So all in all, I’m feeling good! How are you fellow brace-wearers doing?

My lower brace goes on: good news and the bad news

I’m afraid the photo’s not brilliant, but here’s my lower lingual brace, which I had fitted 24 hours ago:

lower-lingual-brace-day-1{© Inside I’m Smiling}

Having it put in was pretty much the same process as the top brace and took around 30 minutes. You can see that I have two teeth on the bottom without brackets – they’ll be added later once some space has been made. As I knew what to expect this time I was much less anxious. However, I’ve found the first 24 hours with my lower brace quite hard.

The good news…

Getting my bottom brace has improved my speech problems! I was worried that getting it would take me backwards a few steps as far as my lisp was concerned, but having lingual braces on both sets of teeth has actually made it easier to shape those tricky sounds. I can only guess that it’s because the inside surface of my teeth is now ‘built back’ to the same degree on both the top and bottom and that has something to do with it. During the first evening with my bottom brace (before the pain really set in) my speech was very nearly back to normal, so I’m really hoping that once the pain subsides, I’ll sound like myself again.

The bad news…

I have to tell you, my lower brace feels really, really sore! I felt like I had a pretty easy ride as far as pain was concerned with my upper brace so this has hit me quite hard as I wasn’t as prepared this time. With the top brace the soreness on my tongue was mainly concentrated at the front where it was in contact with the brackets when I spoke. With the lower brace, the pain is all towards the back of my tongue at the sides and is primarily caused by the movement my tongue makes moving over those back brackets when I swallow. And not just food and drink either – you have no idea how many times you swallow during the day just with saliva! Ouch! On top of that, I have also felt a lot more aching in my teeth on the bottom than the top – I had real trouble eating last night and today as it hurts to chew even soft foods and with the swallowing pain as well, even soups and yogurts are a struggle. I know I’ll only feel more despondent if I’m hungry so I’ve been taking ibuprofen to help me push through, which has helped. I’ve avoided wax and Gishy Goo so far but I know I always have that option too if it gets worse.

I’m really hoping that in a day or two the pain will settle down, and when that happens I’m excited to see what my speech is like. I’ll be so delighted if the improvement I experienced initially continues as I was starting to feel a little frustrated. Also, I would say that if you are thinking of getting lingual braces, ask your orthodontist if they will stagger the fitting of your upper and lower brace. My ortho recommends fitting them two weeks apart as he says the experience of having them both put on at once would be too overwhelming and I can certainly imagine that would be the case.

Mind the gap!

Magnifying glass at the ready? It’s day 13 with my top lingual brace and a gap has definitely appeared between my two front teeth that wasn’t there before…

gap-between-teeth-lingual-braces{© Inside I’m Smiling}

Ok, so it’s probably barely perceptible to the naked eye, but it definitely wasn’t there before, so that’s progress, right?

Tomorrow afternoon it’s back to my orthodontist to have my bottom lingual brace fitted, so next time you see me I’ll be fully kitted out and ready to really get down to business!