Thursday, February 22, 2007

it's like pulling teeth

Actually, in a few months it will literally be pulling teeth, as I've decided to get braces. Not so much for aesthetics, though that's a nice side affect, but to make it easier to maintain my dental health, which has been up and down through most of my 20s and which we've spent a great deal of money to get back on track.

Dental and vision care becomes more important as one ages since they are now able to find signs of major disease in your eyes and mouth well before they become full blown. For example, gum disease is linked with cardiovascular issues. They think it's because the bacteria in the mouth are able to enter the body through the damaged gums then attack the blood vessels to weaken them. They can see early signs of diabetes in your eyes.

My sister was the only one with braces as she lost a tooth a little too early which caused the teeth to shift. But my mom's side of the family has a tradition of crowded bottom teeth. And I'm hoping the adjustments will give me a better fitting bite which causes less wear and tear.

But, they will have to pull 4 teeth out in order to create room to move the teeth around. It's either that or make the jaw bigger and I didn't even ask the doctor what that means. Even "permanent" teeth aren't permanent, and like other bones in the body, when exposed to a constant pressure will destroy and rebuild themselves and actually reshape themselves based on the constant pressure which is what the wires will do. And it's best to do it while I'm still young, because there is a healing process involved in this change.

The whole process will take 24 months from start to finish. With clear braces for the top teeth and metal for the bottom ones you can't see. And as cool as it would have been to use the invisalign system, it probably won't be as effective in my situation.

We're not really sure either if straightening the teeth will straighten my smile with it. I think part of the reason my mouth goes in different directions is because of the way the teeth misaligned. The muscles are merely trying to keep from crashing my teeth together. And I think if I really wanted to, then I could "practice" smiling, but I'll deal with that later.

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