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5 stages of getting braces – personal experiences and tips

Getting braces can be a big event for anyone.  The decision itself and the orthodontist procedures can be quite daunting, especially when there are so many unknowns. On the first day that I got braces last fall, I was hectically googling to understand what to expect. However, none of the articles had comprehensive information. If you are someone who is considering getting braces or just got them, I want to share my braces experience here step by step in hopes this will help you understand what to expect, tips on getting the best result from your investment, and most importantly bring some comfort.

Summary

Here is a quick run-down of my situation and braces:

  • Braces: clear metal wires with brackets on both top and bottom tooth, no springs
  • Adjustment: tooth alignment (no bite adjustment)
  • Duration: 8 months, with permanent retainers after treatment
  • Age: 23
  • Preparation: extracted all four wisdom tooth prior to getting braces

1. The decision

This is the only part of the process that I won’t go into too many detail. Because everyone will want to get braces for different reasons. Personally I’ve always wanted braces because my tooth are badly aligned. However, I never found a good time that worked until last fall to finally go ahead with braces.

2. Research and consultation

Research is very important, something I wished I did more of if I got another chance. Consult more than 1 orthodontist and do research on different types of braces and their pros and cons. A brief overview of the different types of braces:

TypeLookAdvantagesDisadvantages
Metal BracesLeast Expensive
Most effective
Allows kids expression
through coloured bands
Most noticeable
Limit you from eating hard
and sticky foods
Ceramic BracesLess noticeable than
metal
Most effective, like metal
More costly than metal
May stain more easily
Lingual BracesInvisible from outsideHarder to clean
More costly than other types
May be more uncomfortable
Less effective for severe cases
Routine adjustments take longer
than metal or ceramic braces
InvisalignNearly invisible
Allow you to eat and drink
anything (removable)
Only available for teens and adults
Less effective for severe cases
May be more costly than others
Treatment may take longer
Require brushing teeth after eating
to prevent staining

source: http://happytoothnc.com/types-of-braces/ 

I decided to get braces with the dentist office I do my checkups and cleanings so I am already familiar with the orthodontist. Still, I went in for a consultation where the doctor took some pictures of my tooth, gave me an analysis whether the 6-month braces procedure (ceramic type) was possible for my case. Because I didn’t have any major bite issues, I was eligible for the shorter treatment timelines (thank god!). And I was also happy to find out that I didn’t have to extract my canines (from my before picture you’ll see my canines protrude a lot!).

My before picture, some seriously misaligned teeth 

3. The big day

Getting braces is no simple procedure, here is a run-down of what happens before and on the day you actually get braces put in.

  • Appointment to take molds of your teeth (this will be fairly straightforward and painless, although the squishy material they use to make molds tastes pretty bad :P)
  • Eat all your nuts, crackers, apples, and hard foods before getting braces (I forgot this and even got Häagen-Dazs nut covered ice cream bars the day before and was unable to eat them!) Conversely, prepare some soups / soft food for the 2-3 days after the big day – your mouth will definitely be sour and you won’t be chewing on anything soon.

   vs.    

  • Getting braces put on was long but fairly painless. My appointment was ~1.5 hours. The orthodontist cleans your teeth, put glue onto the desired spots, and then glues brackets into place. Once the brackets are firm, the orthodontist will install wires which will apply pressure and serve to move your teeth into the right places.

  • Going home, it was very weird to have a layer of metal between my lips and my teeth but it didn’t hurt. However, I finally realized braces was no simple procedure when I had dinner. It was impossible to chew on anything because my teeth was sore and biting down hurts like crazy – so I literally broke food into pieces with utensils and swallowed.
  • Personally, the soreness and pain subdued after approximately a week and I was able to chew more properly. (I cut those Häagen-Dazs bars on the 3rd day with a knife and ate them though! Too much temptation.) For some people this recovery period can be longer so don’t get alarmed. If you’re worried, check with your orthodontist.

4. During the treatment

Some small items that helped me incredibly to prepare for yourself:

  • Dental wax – your orthodontist will give you a small box of wax and you can also purchase more from the drugs store if you run out. The idea is the soft interior of your lips will not like protruding metal – so putting on wax on the brackets can help ease the pain. Personally, I only used wax when the rubbing is really bad. Most often, you just have to wait it out until the blisters heal and your lips are used to the addition. T_T

  • Dental toothpicks – the thread-through floss that my orthodontist recommended for flossing actually didn’t work for me since my braces tightened the space between my teeth and it hurts like crazy to jam floss into those spaces. Instead, I bought some toothpicks to get to those areas and it’s also so much easier to use!

  • Mouth wash – the guideline is that you should brush your teeth after every meal while having braces. That may not be realistic in all situations. Personally at work, sometimes I just don’t have the time to brush after lunch and this is where mouth wash is a life saver. Using mouth wash gave me comfort that I’m taking care of my teeth while being also fairly convenient to use.

  • Lip balm – I can’t even start to count how many times I fell asleep with my mouth open, drooling, and woke up finding my lips totally dry. Frequent use of lip balm is recommended and this habit actually persisted with me even after braces removal. My favorite is Vaseline with aloe since this is a little thicker than normal lip balm and perfect for my situation.

Mostly my braces experience was quite smooth. I went back to the dentist office approximately every month to get my braces re-adjusted. After each adjustment I had to deal with soreness for a few days until the teeth get used to it but not too bad otherwise. Months 3-4 my teeth moved significantly and it was quite amazing to see the changes. In month 4, my orthodontist also prescribed elastics which ties my upper and lower teeth together and this was THE most painful part of my entire braces experience. Luckily, I only had to wear elastics for just over a month but I would never want to go back there. (Small tip: wear elastics as often as you can as instructed, do not think it’s okay to not wear for a couple of days. This will delay your treatment and only means you have to wear elastics even longer!)

5. The results!

The day I finally got my braces off was unbelievable. Honestly when I first got braces and when it was hurting I thought the end was so far. But it finally came, and with another long procedure, my braces came off. I stare at myself in the mirror, smiling, with nothing on my teeth and it feels unreal. Everything was worth it.

   My before and after comparison (8 months) 

That being said, I was still caught by surprise so that’s why it’s important to do research and ask your orthodontist lots of questions. So I knew that I would have to wear retainers at night, but I didn’t know my orthodontist planned to put in permanent retainers for me. To my dread, after removing the brackets on the front of my teeth, my orthodontist started gluing small brackets to the back of my 12 front teeth, 6 upper and 6 lower. My dream of being free of metal in my mouth was crushed. Googling as soon as I got home, I learned sometimes permanent retainers replace or are used in conjunction with removable retainers and they are kept in for as many years as possible. So this fact took some time to get used to, but at least I won’t have to worry about consistently wearing my clear removable retainers (which surprisingly hurts!).

 

I was hectically Googling during many stages of my orthodontist procedure and looking back I wished I had stumbled upon someone else’s brace journey and learned what to expect in advance. So I hope this help you whether you’re considering getting braces or is already in the process.

Good luck! Cheers to a beautiful smile. 🙂

5 scientific methods to waking up early for anyone

There are thousands of articles online that explain the benefit of waking up early. You can exercise, read, meditate, eat a proper breakfast, and perform work uninterrupted. Some articles go as far as saying waking up early is a trait of every successful individual. But if you are anything like me, despite knowing all the benefits of waking up early, actually doing it is quite another beast. So today, I want to share with you some scientific methods and tools that helped me to wake up earlier, and hopefully help you as well!

1. Monitor your sleep cycle

Humans sleep in cycles. This means while you sleep through the night, you actually go through cycles of “light” versus “deep” sleep. In scientific terms, these are REM (rapid eye movement) or NREM (none rapid eye movement) stages. REM corresponds to light sleep, when dreams typically visit you. And NREM corresponds to deep sleep, where you brain and body really gets refreshed. Looking at a sleeping cycle graph, we all cycle between REM and NREM several times a night.

sleep cycle graph

So how does understanding sleep cycle help you wake up earlier? Well, the trick is to wake up in on the top curve of your cycle and not when you are in deep sleep. If you ever have an alarm clock jolt you from slumber you know what I’m talking about. Personally, I started using an app called SleepTime that monitors my sleeping patterns using my phone’s accelerometer. Then within a period of time that I need to wake up, SleepTime rings the alarm when I’m in the lightest sleep. Usually, I find I’m already conscious by the time the alarm rings.

Although some guides will suggest sleep cycles are usually 90 mins so you can manually calculate your alarm. From looking at my own data over the past several months, I find my sleep cycles vary a lot, from 1 hour to 2.5 hours – so the realtime measurements does a way better job.

Try it! It’s not about sleeping more, but sleeping right!

2. Circadian (light based clock)

Similar to sleep cycles, this 2nd trick is also about waking up naturally, when your body is ready to get up. The circadian rhythm is the body’s biological clock. It controls various biological functions so your body revitalizes and repairs during the night and then is energized during the day. Light is an important stimulus to the circadian rhythm. Before humans had artificial light, we slept when the sun went down and rose when the sun came up. So exposure to light is very important to resetting to circadian rhythm and telling the body it’s time to wake up. That’s also why most often waking up to an alarm in the dark is veryyy painful.

Luckily for those who don’t have direct sunlight when they need to wake up, there are light alarm clocks. Instead of a musical alarm, these clocks gradually fill your bedroom with light around 30min before you need to wake up – naturally adjusting your body. No more snoozing!

Philips light alarm clock

3. Problem solving alarm clock

This is for anyone who loves hitting the snooze button and then falls right back to sleep. Creators have came up with various innovative and fun apps that gives you a mental challenge in order to silence that annoying alarm – making you wakeup in the process. These tasks range from puzzle solving, math questions, to mini-games. Perhaps you will make the challenge so hard to solve that you’ll wake up before the alarm just to disable it!

4. Sleep early

I had to mention this even though it’s not really a tip or trick. But honestly from many struggling mornings the best thing to wake up refreshed and happy is to sleep early. Some humans just need a certain number of hours of sleep per night. And those hours don’t just appear magically. So while you plan to wake up earlier, also plan to sleep earlier. That’s the only way to healthy, sustainable way to approach this.

5. Get someone to wake you up

Finally, if all the biological stimulus still can’t get you to wake up early, it’s time to put on some social pressure. Wakie is a service that connects people to wake up people. Instead of waking up to an alarm clock, some stranger (perhaps from the other side of the world) will give you a call to wake you up. Imagine all the interesting conversations you will have! And now instead of dreading the alarm clock, you may actually look forward to it. Find out more about Wakie on their website here https://wakie.com/how-it-works/.

 

Enjoy these tips? Try them out tomorrow and share this article with others who you think could use an extra hour in the morning!