Saturday, August 11, 2018

Old Dogs, #NewTricks And So On, And So On By Margo Hoornstra

Braces at my age? Whatever was I thinking?

As a youngster, maybe junior high, I wore braces. Back then, they were the hammer and chiseled on metal bands around the patient’s molars connected to a virtual labyrinth of more metal wrapped around incisors and such. I remember some major discomfort. Definitely at first. I think I ate baby food only for two weeks straight. Then, every few weeks or so after that torture, when the bands and wires were cranked on and tightened. And it was back to the baby food again.

Think that horrible torture scene depicting the stretching of William Wallace in the movie Braveheart.

Fast forward a few…uh…decades.

For whatever reasons…Maybe because when the treatment was blessedly completed, I didn’t wear my retainer as religiously as I was supposed to. Or, as the years went on, some necessary root canals, extractions, crowns and the like were done. At any rate, my front teeth crowded up again.

I lived that way for years. Not smiling for the camera (note my profile picture here) was really the only downside.

Then the necessary extraction of one of my front teeth, on the bottom, but still, made a decision for me I’d been toying with for a while. Dipping into the kids’ inheritance to pay for it, I decided on another round of braces.

Invisalign was the suggested treatment of choice. You know what I’m talking about. Clear devices, or trays, computer generated to fit over your pearly whites, top and bottom. As time goes on – and somewhat magically if the animations are to be believed – all the nooks and cranny imperfections straighten right out. The devices are also removable for eating and drinking, so there are no real food restrictions as with traditional braces. Sweet!

How hard could this be? Really!

Now that I’m more than one week in…very. No. Let me qualify that. It’s all definitely doable, but not as easy as I may have led myself to believe.

For starters, more than two hours in the chair on my initial appointment, with what amounted to a lip plate in place – think of those used by some tribes in Africa – while these little square attachments were adhered to my teeth. These, I was told, to help the aligners do their job. Some patients get as few as three or four. I received eighteen. In addition...BONUS...two other 'thingies' were applied to both back lower molars to hold two tiny rubber bands that extend to the top tier trays.


I was also provided with a number of personalized trays to wear for the next eighteen months. Each one worn for ten days before going on to the next set. I received forty-nine of those.

Double Yay!!

Then came the time to insert the first set. Let me tell you, trying to use a mirror while doing this only added to my frustration. Fumbling around for quite a while it seemed, using the touch and feel method, I eventually got the devices properly seated.

That's great. Congratulations!

Now remove them again.

Wait! What?!

They must have meant try to remove them. Heh-Heh-Heh.

Needless to say, more fumbling ensued. Those puppies were on there! Well, of course they were. How else would they do what they’re designed to do? Little did I know taking them off would be a bit more complicated…and hurt! They were definitely on there! Although I will say putting them on again and wearing them, there is really no pain at all. Except for one thing. Though they are made of plastic as opposed to metal, surprisingly, there is the occasional rough edge to deal with. Sharp enough to poke into sensitive gum and lip tissue. This can happen even when the trays are out, too. As I discovered when one of the larger attachments, front and center, made it uncomfortable to chew.

Which led me to another discovery. Orthodontic wax. Something they didn’t have back in the day my first go round. Soft, pliable, stack able, retain able and comfortable. Works like a dream, but is not available everywhere, I also learned. Definite stockpiling when found applies here.

But, back to the eating and drinking.

To achieve the best result, it’s recommended that the trays be worn at least twenty-two hours a day. That’s two hours off divided by three meals a day, with time allowed for proper brushing and flossing before reinsertion. Yikes! We’re talking forty minutes each…tops. As a taking most of the morning to savor multiple sips of coffee type of drinker, a restrictive time limit is going to take some getting used to. Then there’s the over-all hassle factor to deal with. Removing them, putting them in their special case, thorough teeth brushing after, prior to reinsertion. The potential hazards of doing all of this at restaurants. (In the restroom, of course, but still...)

So far, I’ve adapted quite well…I think anyway. Mainly because all in all, the discomfort and care and feeding necessities of the procedure are minimal. The end result will be worthwhile I’m sure. I’m also looking on the bright side. Not being able to munch at will is, hopefully, going to be good for my waistline.

Today, is actually day ten for me. New ground to cover coming up.

Tonight, before going to bed, I move on to set of trays number two. One down and forty-eight to go…

While I'm doing latest release Book 1 of Brothers In BlueOn The Surface is now available.

Soon to be followed by Brothers In Blue, Book 2, On The Force...cue tantalizing cover art.

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my website

Or find me at these other locations.

Twitter:     !/MargoHoornstra
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Brenda Whiteside said...

Just wow! I've thought how I wish my teeth were straighter. My family never had the money for braces. In fact, I can only remember 3 dental visits my entire first 18 years of my life. My sister got braces as an adult. I never made the leap. You are not making me wish I went that way. LOL But I wish you lots of luck with this adventure!

remullins said...

My older two sisters both wore braces. After paying them off, my parents took a look at my brother and me and decided we were 'good enough'. My teeth were straight until a wisdom tooth decided not to erupt but to go sideways in my mouth. Several dentists have told me, I'm a perfect candidate for Invisalign but I never looked any further into it. Kudos to you. Only 48 more to go!!!!!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Good for you, Margo. I can't wait for your big smile! My parents failed to focus on my buck teeth early on, so when I was 30 and a high school English teacher, I got her done. Heck, I fit right in with my be-braced students. Best/smartest/most freeing move I ever made! Bar none. Self-esteem rose, I laughed more, I enjoyed smiling for cameras...goes on and on. What you're doing is well-worth the trouble...and will take ten years off your age (like my convertible does). You deserve it!

Jannine Gallant said...

As a child, I had the prehistoric precursor to Invisalign instead of railroad tracks. My teeth never did get perfectly straight, and they've gotten much worse since then. After spending 10 grand between the two girls for braces, I'm not tempted to start over (unless I start selling books like Nora). I wish you much luck with this!

Leah St. James said...

Like Brenda, my dental care as a child was limited at best. I always wished I could have had braces, even the old, metal torture devices. It seemed like a rite of passage all my friends were going through. Now I'm accustomed to my less-than-perfect smile. (Whitening is what I'd really like, and I've tried it with mediocre results.) Anyway, good for you! I think it's wonderful that you're doing something you want just for you. The process sounds dreadful, but it also sounds like maybe the worst of it is over? Hang in there, and think of the material you've got now for a book some day! Can't wait to see a new picture some day, when you're ready. :-)

Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh, Brenda. But your teeth look good to me. We never got our one daughter braces as a child and probably should have. We paid for hers as an adult. That’s what got me inspired this go round. Thanks for the luck wishes. I have a feeling I’m going to need them. LOL

Margo Hoornstra said...

Three of our four kids miraculously have beautiful teeth, Robin. Yeah I have four sideways wisdom teeth too. Nobody said anything g about taking them out. So I’m not bringing it up. Yeah, only 48.

Margo Hoornstra said...

I’ll hold you to that ten years, Rolynn.You are so right about the self esteem quotient. Love that you wore braces with your kids. Bet you did fit right in.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Who says you’ll never sell like Nora, Jannine? When you do, go for it!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Whitening is step two for me, Leah. I drink too much coffee. The process is rather involved. But, as my husband says. “You’re an adult. You can do this. I’ll keep you posted. LOL You’re on for the new picture. Hope I don’t disappoint.

Diane Burton said...

Good for you, Margo. Can't wait to see that new smile. I never wore braces. Thankfully, my teeth have always been pretty straight. With age comes changes. Teeth shift. I'm getting spaces where I don't want them--like between my 2 front teeth. Not good. Do I talk to the dentist or put up with it? So far, I'm putting up with it.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Diane. Should have the smile perfected in about a year. As I said, I put up with it - crooked teeth- until we got pictures back from our 50th anniversary. Where I forgot and smiled, definitely not pretty. That got me going.