Getting dental braces is something that I keep on putting off for the last two decades now. My parents encouraged me to do it at the age of 12, but I told them that I was proud of the gaps between my teeth. That was a lie, of course—you would never me smiling with my teeth showing in the olden days. However, I saw how much pain my friends experienced when they got braces, so I stood by the lie.
My perception merely changed last year when I realized that there’s a little discrimination between folks with and without perfect teeth. Although it was very subtle in most industries, it was more visible in sectors where face value mattered more than anything. Since I wanted a career in sales, I knew I had to woman up and have my pearly whites fixed.
After a month of consulting with a dentist, I came out of the clinic with dental braces. Did it hurt as much as I had imagined when the teeth started moving? Yes! During the first few days, it felt like all of them would fall out of my mouth. However, it eventually became more tolerable as months passed by.
Two months ago, my dentist gave me excellent news: I only needed to go through three more adjustments before transitioning into retainers. It meant that the wide gaps were almost gone, and I was excited about that.
Unfortunately, a month after that, our entire state was placed under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dental clinic where my dentist was practicing had to close temporarily, and it meant three things:
Teeth Movement Cannot Be Monitored
Dental braces are typically okay to stay unchecked for a month or two. That is especially true if you need to go out of town for weeks or your dentist is on a holiday trip. The braces are not removable either, so there should be nothing to worry about.
However, in some cases like mine, monthly checkups are essential. My ceramic braces, to be precise, require monitoring since they are more fragile and move teeth slower than regular ones. Given that the dentist is out, I may need to wear braces longer than expected.
Loose Brackets Cannot Be Fixed
There are plenty of reasons why brackets detach from the teeth. The most common one is that they have been bumped out of place while munching on crunchy foods. Other reasons include:
- Brushing teeth too much
- Biting into dense foods (e.g., a whole apple or burger)
The wire can usually prevent a bracket from falling off. If there is rubber around it, the bracket may remain secure, too. Despite that, it can still be irritating to touch the area with your tongue and feel that there is already a gap between your tooth and the bracket. Worse, you cannot go to the dental clinic to fix it.
Excess Wires Cannot Be Cut
For brace wearers with wide gaps between the teeth, one recurring issue is the excess wire length. The dentist tends to ensure that it does not go past the molar bands during every appointment. However, the more your teeth move towards the center to close those gaps, the more the wire ends become exposed. If you have never experienced it, imagine one end of a staple wire poking the inside of your cheek, to the extent that it bruises.
I guess I am lucky because I only have several gaps left on my lower set of teeth. There is still excess wire, but it is only less than a millimeter long at this point. Unfortunately, other folks who have only started wearing braces for the same reason recently may experience faster teeth movement and have a longer piece of wire poking out.
Let’s not forget that it is not the dentists’ fault that they cannot go to work these days. The job requires them to be in close contact with patients’ mouths, and it is the ultimate source of the coronavirus. All we can do is pray for COVID-19 to leave this planet real soon.