July 29, 2016

Adult braces


For years, my dentist(s) have been telling me to get braces, especially on my bottom teeth because I have severe overcrowding. Every time they told me of how when I grow old and grey my teeth will start to rot and I'll have to pull them out and get implants. Each time they told me this, I got scared, but maybe, just maybe, I thought they were exaggerating. Because that's what dentists do, right? 

Ha. 

Then about a year ago, while skyping with my parents, I learned that they both were undergoing very expensive, very painful, treatments on their teeth. They had to have multiple teeth pulled because their roots have rotted. They have implants, the ones where you literally screw it on to your gums. 

That freaked me out. I needed to get braces done stat.

But braces are expensive and we, well more Yangkyu, is the kind of person who don't like to live with credit card debt. And so, this year Yangkyu was able to allocate enough money into our FSA (Federal Spending Account) and I went on a search for an orthodontist. 

Yangkyu wanted me to get at least 2 or 3 consultations before settling on one, but I'm the type that can't drag on a process and ask for a second or third opinion. And so I settled on the first one I saw. She was nice, competent, trustworthy. She was compassionate and understanding {of my fears}, which was A+ for me and while her appointments were running slightly behind, she never rushed or cut me off and gave me {and her patient before me} plenty of room to ask all my questions and made herself available via phone as well. And she didn't push. She wasn't all up in my face asking for my business. And her reviews are great.

But, and there is always a but, I would have to extract three teeth. Three perfectly functioning teeth in order to get braces. 

My worst nightmare, really. 

I had three wisdom teeth pulled out several years ago and I thought my world was going to end. I will never forget my dentist tugging and yanking at my teeth. Sure I didn't actually feel the pain but I felt the rough tugging and yanking. I had my eyes closed the entire time but you know I have the world's most imaginative mind. 

I have to go through that again? 

See, the reason why it's three teeth is that there is no room on my bottom teeth to straighten out. And so extraction needs to happen - either on the left side or right side of my mouth {this is needed for practical reasons in order to ensure that my teeth align straight and I no longer have difficult cleaning problems which can lead to roots rotting and gum disease}. 

But if I extract a tooth from one side, I need to extract a tooth from the other side as well to balance everything out so that my teeth aligns in the middle as well. This is what I assume is purely cosmetic. To ensure perfectly aligned teeth. 

So why the third tooth? 

I had braces as a kid and I only got my top teeth done because it was just really really bad. I extracted one tooth from my left side. And that one only. For a long time, I didn't know why the middle of my top teeth never aligned with the middle of my bottom teeth. I just thought my upper teeth had shifted all these years, but it was explained to me during my consultation session that in order to balance my teeth, a second tooth from the right side should have also been extracted. 

Sigh. 

She left the upper tooth extraction up to me as it is purely cosmetic and not something absolutely needed to ensure that my teeth and gums will be straight for the purposes of having healthy teeth and gums. If I don't pull a tooth out from up top then I will just end up with mis-aligned teeth where the middle don't match. 

My orthodontist would probably like to have all three extracted so that she can produce a perfect outcome. I wasn't too sure, but the more I think about it, if I'm going to have to pull two teeth out anyway and spend thousands of dollars on braces and have them on for two years {and metal ones!!! I can do invisalign but I am not really an ideal candidate for it} then why not just go all the way. 

And so, it's been decided. 

I get records and x-rays done next week. From there I'll find out when my extraction date will be. 

I'm super nervous and I keep going back and forth on whether to cancel because anything to do with my teeth I just cry and turn into a 5 year old. 

Since my consultation day, Yangkyu's been encouraging and lending a helpful ear.

Last night in bed, I randomly asked a half asleep Yangkyu, "Do you think they'll let me take a big stuffed animal with me? I can squeeze it when I'm getting my teeth pulled." 

The night before it was, "Should I just grow old and become a toothless grandma? Will you still love me then?"

A friend posted on Facebook about a service dog that calms kids during dental visits. I told her I would need 10 of those dogs. 

I Googled "How to get over the fear of having teeth extracted" and reading people's suggestions that said, "You will be ok," definitely did not help. 

I told Yangkyu that maybe someone spared me the pain of delivering babies and that's why we are infertile. But since not experiencing that pain wouldn't really be fair, that someone instead gave me a lifetime worth of teeth trouble. 

At this point, Yangkyu is just hearing my nonsense through one year and letting it flow out the other.

Sigh. 

I know me -- I'll be a complete wreck until the very moment when I get that anesthetic shot and then finally tell myself, just suck it up, and I'll just go through the ordeal like a grown adult and then go back to being a baby afterwards before growing up again. It's always like this -- dreading something until that moment where I really can't turn back and then just sucking it up. But man, getting to that moment is just so darn excruciating.

This weekend is going to be a long and painful one. 

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