Wednesday, September 28, 2016
September 8, 2016
I’ve done some wild and crazy things in life but deciding to go through orthodontics as a 50-something dentist was never on my list of things to do…until about six months ago. A close look in the mirror showed my teeth were shifting and I didn’t like the smile that was looking back at me. In this picture, you might think my smile is perfect but up close, problems were becoming evident. I had orthodontic treatment as a teenager, was compliant throughout the process and had an outcome that was pretty darn good. But, things change with time and here I was, unhappy with my look. To the casual observer, my teeth looked great. However, to my husband dentist, I was losing bite stability from years of clenching and grinding my teeth (dentistry is stressful!...as are most forms of gainful employment) and my smile esthetic was declining. For nearly thirty years I have referred many patients to Dr. Thomas Jusino and have been very pleased with the results he achieves. I decided that it was my turn to see what he could do for my case. After two discussions with Dr. Jusino over 8 months, it was clear that my teeth needed an Intervention.
So here I am today, that 50-something dentist (ok, closer to the bit Six-O number), sitting alongside two teenage boys, all of us awaiting the beginning of our orthodontic treatment. I probably knew more about what to expect than the other teens waiting their turn but I was still a little anxious and certainly out of MY element. I am usually the one ‘in charge’ but today, I was ‘the patient’. For me it was a bit of an out-of-body-experience. But, I went into the process determined to be a totally compliant patient who wasn’t going to complain and who fiercely protected their brackets and wires from breaking. As a dentist, I didn’t want to be THAT person who gnawed on Bavarian pretzels, ate Gummy Bears without a thought or consumed fistfuls of whole almonds mindlessly; all forbidden foods that will destroy the bond of the bracket, frustrate the orthodontist and delay progress.
I will insert here that I had a fair amount of advice from three experienced people…..my kids, now aged 21, 25 and 28. Go ahead and Zoom in on the photo and check out their smiles. All three breezed through their ortho with Dr. Jusino as young teens and were impressively compliant, without nagging from their dentist parents. The common theme in their advice was to ‘make sure you take some Motrin before your appointment and keep it nearby for the first couple of days’. I had a flashback to 2003, getting a call from the middle school secretary telling me that my ‘middle’ child was having headaches and that her teeth hurt after having an ortho appointment the day before. Of course, the good parent that I was found an opening in my schedule between patients and dashed off to school with a bottle of Motrin and a snack-sized container of applesauce (this child could not swallow pills) to provide relief. I won’t go into detail about how I managed to pummel the pills into a powder to mix into the applesauce in the school office but by the end of the school day, this child of mine was headache free and all smiles. I refer to Motrin as “Vitamin M”. So, for this, my first, visit to the orthodontist, I pre-medicated with 800mg of Motrin….a very smart move.
Back to reality and my first appointment to get started. First there was the ceph x-ray; a lateral view of my skull and jaws…most cool to see what’s inside your head! Next was the impression taking…yes that funky goop we place in what seems to be a gorilla-sized metal tray to take a mold of your teeth. BUT! The material allows for customized flavoring in at least a dozen choices and you can have separate flavors for upper and lower molds! Once mixed, it was only in my mouth about 20 seconds because they used the FAST SET goop! The flavoring and quick set material made this a breeze! So far, so good.
Onto placing the brackets…gluing the braces to my teeth.
So, this part took a long time but mostly because Dr. Jusino is both an artist and an engineer. Precise placement of the brackets allows him to easily work his magic over the next several months to create a smile that will last for a very long time. You lay in comfy chairs with funny lip-stretchers (that we call cheek retractors) to keep everything dry. The glue doesn’t like to be wet (makes sense). So while your cheeks feel stretched from one side of the room to the other, please know that they bounce back quickly and no one will ever be able to tell you had anything done when it is over. The best part? None of this hurts. (Remember, the Motrin?) It feels funny and I suppose if you looked in a mirror it might Look funny for the time you’re there, but nothing hurts. Once the brackets are positioned, placing the wires that actually move the teeth is quick..just a couple of minutes. Then, you’re done! For the two teenage boys, they were off to school and for me it was back to the office to see scheduled patients.
My braces are a big hit at the office. All of my patients think it’s great to see their fully grown adult dentist with teeth that look like they belong to a teenager. I have to admit, I feel younger and don’t mind the attention. But, you might ask, how does it feel? Not nearly what you might think!
My lips do not feel big, and my smile is just as confident as always. Dr. Jusino gave me clear brackets for my front teeth and most people don’t even notice at first. For this afternoon of Day 1, I was prepared with soup for lunch and a reserve of Motrin which I did not need. For me, the best part was feeling the gentle tug on my teeth that told me ‘It’s Working’. I am pretty excited!