I have officially made it to the halfway point of my adult braces journey! Sometimes I say that and I can’t believe I’m halfway through. The other times I can’t believe I still have 9 months left. Having ceramic braces as an adult has definitely had its ups and downs, but I’m getting closer to my goal! Today I’ll talk about the extra things that get added on to adult braces; power chains and elastics.
Adult Braces and Power chains
I don’t know if it is that my orthodontist is so used to kids, but he doesn’t always say what he plans for me. So I always listen in when he is telling the tech of what he thinks I’ll need next time. Let me tell you, my ears certainly perked up when I heard power chain. It just sounds scary doesn’t it? As soon as I was back at work, I immediately was googling what a power chain was. Thankfully, power chains are not the worst thing in the world. Instead of wrapping each bracket in its own individual band, a power chain is a connected string of bands that slowly pulls your teeth to the center. I’ve worn power chains on both the top and bottom teeth, with even a double power chain (one on the inside of the wire and one on the outside of the wire) on my bottom teeth because I have one tooth that has been extra difficult to straighten. My power chains haven’t run the entire length of my teeth – the power chain on my bottom teeth went to the second to last molar and the top one covered maybe six teeth.
Adult Braces and Elastics
Let me tell you, I thought the brackets and wires and all that would be the worst part of having braces. Oh, how wrong I was. At about month four, my orthodontist informed me I had to start wearing elastics. What are elastics, you ask? Elastics are innocent looking little rubber bands that you place on your brackets, usually going from the top teeth to bottom teeth. I have been wearing them to adjust the alignment of my teeth/jaw as the top and bottom never quite lined up before.
The first set I wore was like a triangle, one point at the top connecting to two teeth on the bottom. As someone that tried to sleep without my teeth touching, elastics were a tough transition. The little elastics pretty much forced my teeth together. After the first night of wearing elastics, I had to call into work because I had slept so terribly and my mouth and jaw just hurt. After a few days (just like with any orthodontic change), it wasn’t terrible, but there were definitely nights that were worse than others. I wore elastics in a triangle shape at night for about 12 weeks.
Then I got the news that I got to wear elastics all day. If I thought the nighttime wearing of elastics was bad, it had nothing on all day wear. I was wearing the elastics with four touchpoints, two teeth on top connected to two teeth on the bottom on each side. It looked like a squished rectangle. It took nearly a week for my teeth and jaw to get used to the new alignment. One side of my face even swelled a bit because of the pressure the elastics were putting on my teeth and I ended up biting down on the inside of my cheek at night. Obviously, that first week was pretty much terrible, but it was eating for the next 6 weeks that were really tough. As I said, I was supposed to wear the elastics all day, with only half hour breaks to eat (that includes the cleanup time needed). So meals were a bit of a race and snacks were pretty much non-existent. The only thing that I found that worked for snacks was applesauce in pouches or whipped peanut butter that I could eat off a spoon. When I went in for my next appointment and my orthodontist declared that I only had to wear the elastics at night again, I thought I might cry from happiness. I’m crossing my fingers that I never have to wear elastics all day again.