Life after “bracing” myself

I waited for this day for four years.

Four years ago, I availed of the tooth filling benefit at the workplace. In the course of the procedure, the dentist told me that I’m prone to experience a locked jaw. In my mind, my reaction was “what was that?” The dentist told me that the constant sound made by my jaw bones every time I open my mouth signals that I need further treatment.

My initial move was to google and self educate. I later learned that there is a possibility that a person can’t anymore close his mouth as a result of a joint disorder. Whew, that frightened me to death! What if that happened to me in the middle of my class, meeting, or anywhere.

I went to another dentist and consulted my case. This time the dentist told me that my case will be better treated by a TMJ specialist. Another encounter with a nosebleeding term… What the hell is a TMJ specialist?

I went to my cousin’s house to relate my condition. My cousin is not a dentist nor a TMJ specialist but she has been our reliable initial consultant for our health issues. We both couldn’t understand my condition but she knew someone who is a TMJ specialist. This started my years of journey with my metal wires or commonly known as braces.

In an August holiday four years ago, it was my first time to see a TMJ specialist. I went to Dra. Lovi’s clinic to finally clear things about my condition. And there, I was surprised with the amount of money I needed to raise to treat my condition.

The treatment I have to face consisted of three stages, the TMJ treatment, orthodontics (braces) and the finishing treatment. God knows how much I prayed and begged for freelance jobs to finance my ever expensive problem.

During the TMJ treatment, I was asked to wear this plastic rubber appliance

I have to wear this appliance at least one hour a day and during my entire sleep. Dra. Lovi told me that this device is designed to align my upper and lower jaws.

It may not look intimidating but God knows the agony I have to endure whenever I wear this. I can’t open my mouth whenever I’m wearing this piece of almost eternal sacrifice. Imagine the discomfort of never opening your mouth for a hell of 1 hour and sticking the device to one position. Though the appliance is made of a soft plastic rubberlike material, it still pained like hell because it forces my upper and lower jaws to be positioned in one direction.

After eight months, I retired this appliance and I was finally installed with the metal wires or braces. Did it hurt like hell too? The braces of course hurt, but it wasn’t painful the way I expected it.

Things remained the same on the first day I wore my braces. The only discomfort I had was like having the feeling of beads attached to each of my tooth. The pain came two to three days later. If eating involves any intensity of biting, my lower molar will release a sudden painful sensation. If I bite the thinnest piece of potato chips or even those deep fried french fries, the agonizing pain will rise and soon torture my entire mouth.

Aside from the toothy pain, how can I forget sharp and rough edges of the brackets. Mouth Sores were erupting each day and that tortured me to the fullest. Some of these evil eruptions were impeding my speech and even the way I chew my food.

I guess everything settled down after three weeks. I continued with my monthly consultations and after spending around Php 50,000, Dra. Lovi had the heart to cut my monthly dues.

I had free consultations for 6 months and that gave me a huge financial relief. The 6 months went so fast and here I am writing this post.

On Tuesday, (hopefully) I’m making my last payment to Dra. Lovi for the last phase of my treatment. My braces are off and I will soon wear the newest technology in dentistry, the invisalign.

Hopefully, I’ll finish the entire treatment within a month or two. I’m looking forward on the day I can finally smile without those dental impediments again.

Here’s my “braced” journey in pictures.

Warning: Yucky teeth ahead

Now you are free to vomit! I know I have just ruined your appetite.

and finally

will meet my invisalign soon.


8 thoughts on “Life after “bracing” myself

  1. Oh, Diane, somehow this makes me sooo glad that when I was growing up, we were too poor to afford braces for me, hahaha. That must have been painful!

    • When I was actually still studying, the ortho already advised my parents to pursue braces. The thing is we were in the same boat. My parents prioritized my studies and my Nanay even joked that you’ll not anyway die because of bad teeth. 😀 As soon as I started working, this was really my first goal. Hopefully, I could finally close this chapter of my life. And indeed it’s painful physically to my screaming wallet 😀

  2. where was I when you posted this? I should have liked this right away. my sentiments exactly. I’m half way through with my TMJ treatment in which I needed to wear my bite plate 24hrs a day. whew this post was just relieving. thanks!

    • I never knew that we are almost in the same boat. I’m glad to know that I was able to give you a little relief. I just hope that my ugly teeth didn’t scare and ruin your day 🙂

      • no ugly teeth, i didn’t see any. What scares me more was the thought of that 4-year treatment which I think I’ll be taking in the next few months. Whew, I just hope it will be all worth it.

  3. Why did you wear metal braces then Invisalign? Was it not recommended to you to wear Invisalign instead after the phase 1 treatment or splint?

    • I just followed my dentist’s advice. Although she told me that she intend to make me her Guinea pig. She wanted to test if invisalign can actually work for patients nearing the end of their “metal” treatment. Unfortunately, the invisalign didn’t succeed. I ended wearing braces again to finish the treatment.

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