Thursday, June 14, 2018

Post Braces and Retainer Care - (Part 6)

These are retainers like the ones I wore (I couldn't find a picture of mine). After getting my braces removed, I wore these 24/7 except for two events: eating and brushing teeth. After my braces were removed in August, I was instructed that I'll have to wear them all the time for six months, after which I would receive wire retainers and wear those only at night.

Plate retainers, for the most part, are hassle and problem-free! The only tricky part is figuring out how to insert them before and after a meal. You either have to leave the room or find a way to remove them discreetly before meals. And the inverse of that, of course, is finding a way to put them back in after the meal. Sometimes, it may be awkward or impolite to step away to put your retainers in, and then by the time you remember, several hours have past and you kick yourself for succumbing to societal pressures and not putting your retainers in before!

A couple of weeks later, I had an Orthodontic visit with Dr. Scanlan. I took some more impressions, reviewed a color sheet for my retainers, and spoke briefly with Dr. Scanlan. The retainers took about  3 weeks to make and will be the permanent wire retainers that I wear at night.

My permanent wire retainers!

These permanent retainers have a plastic plate that covers the upper gum and a metal bar that comes in front of the teeth. The lower retainer is a metal bar as well but has a smaller plastic plate portion. I choose the color Fuchsia-Glitter. Since I'll only be wearing them at night, I figured I could spice them up a bit :)

At this point, I also had a visit with Dr. Parworth. He wanted to check up on my progress. He was especially interested in puffy tissue (swelling), bite placement, and the degree of feeling I was experiencing in my lower lip and chin area. Since this was about 7 months after my jaw surgery my Dr. Parworth was excited to know that I had complete feeling in my lip and minimal tingling in my chin area.

Summary of Orthodontic & Jaw Surgery Journey

Condition: Mandibular Prognathia (Genetic Underbite)
Months in Orthodontic treatment: 30 months
Braces on Date: March 2014
Braces off Date: August 2016
Jaw Surgery Date: May 10, 2016


Timothy Scanlan, TS Orthodontics
4 Vanderbilt Park Dr #110
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 254-4602

Oral Surgeon: 

Larry Parworth, Rockcliffe Oral Surgery
4 Medical Park Dr
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 255-7781


Haley Mann-Gottfried, Gottfried & Mann Dentistry
1415 Patton Ave
Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 254-9692

Braces Off! (Part 5)

In mid-May 2016, my braces were removed! Before I went in, I sat in the car and took a good look at my braces. I observed the brackets, the wires, the hooks, the colored bands, and I tried to capture a visual and mental image of exactly, every detail. I tried to memorize the feeling and experience because I knew that I would never have them again - or shouldn't!

The entire office seemed so excited about my teeth! As the assistant was working on removing all the appliances, the receptionist kept buzzing in out of the clinical area remarking how "beautiful' and "pretty" they were. After the assistant was finished removing all the braces, and Dr. Scanlan has drilled the glue off and polished my teeth, they told me to brush my teeth before the photo. Then I had to do the red carpet walk as a part of the TS Orthodontics Tradition :)

Everyone was so excited to see my teeth! I wasn't sure what to expect so, I tried to remain objective. When I first saw my teeth, I was first surprised at how white they were, (I didn't get a cleaning before my braces were installed, and the cleaning I did get after they were installed were unable to get behind all the wires and hooks to clean them very well)! Then I was shocked at how "long" they were. My teeth are not especially long, but I had always perceived them to be shorter than they were, so to see them in actuality was enlightening. I began to brush my teeth. And there really is no way to describe the feeling: the way that a toothbrush covers the entire surface area of each of your teeth, it's amazing!

There they are - wires and brackets!

After picture: You can see I was really into brushing those teeth! 

A couple days later I went back into Dr. Scanlan's office to try on my retainers. When I first put the retainers in, it hurt a lot because in those few days. My teeth had already shifted and brought them back into place hurt. But the pain went away after a couple days and it felt fine. I had seen my Dentist (Dr. Haley Mann) the day before, and she told me to ask Dr. Scanlan about some spaces in between my teeth. When I did, Dr. Scanlan informed me that those are there because of the space that the brackets used to fill and should close up with the retainers within six months. He said that if they did not close up, then he would switch to a different kind of retainer that would close the spaces (UPDATE: The spaces did close so we stuck with the original retainers).

I am having mixed emotions about having my braces off. It is nice to have the freedom to bite into anything, not have to worry about food being all over your braces and be able to see your teeth when you smile, but I did form just a teeny tiny sentimental attachment to them.

Since I had such a positive experience with Dr. Scanlan, and his staff, and the entire orthodontic experience was so positive for me, I felt a tinge of sadness as I saw them lying there on a sterile napkin. I had such a positive experience with my braces, and I even looked forward to all of my visits! I couldn't wait to get new wires, or rubber bands, and colors! Now, I'm was going to be done with all of that and I'm going to miss it. I still have a few more visits though, so I don't have to begin mourning just yet.

Summary of Orthodontic & Jaw Surgery Journey

Condition: Mandibular Prognathia (Genetic Underbite)
Months in Orthodontic treatment: 30 months
Braces on Date: March 2014
Braces off Date: August 2016
Jaw Surgery Date: May 10, 2016


Timothy Scanlan, TS Orthodontics
4 Vanderbilt Park Dr #110
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 254-4602

Oral Surgeon: 

Larry Parworth, Rockcliffe Oral Surgery
4 Medical Park Dr
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 255-7781


Haley Mann-Gottfried, Gottfried & Mann Dentistry
1415 Patton Ave
Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 254-9692

Final Verdict
I could not be more pleased with the results!

Eating Vegan with Braces - (Part 4)

Eating with braces is really not any different from eating normally. I had normal braces so obviously if someone had a special orthodontic appliance other than normal wires, eating might be affected. But for the most part food and braces are pretty chill! I do have some challenges with biting into whole things like sandwiches, burritos, hard chips, to name a few.

Two foods specifically that I tried to eat but decided early on never to attempt again were whole apples and of course, corn on the cob. Not only is the process of eating them insanely laborious and disappointing, but getting the food remnants out from between your teeth, and brackets, and wires, is just a highly problematic and exacerbating experience. So I always cut my apples into slices and cut the kernels off corn cobs. Popcorn is also another thing I try to avoid, it’s too much of a hassle...

Most of the time, a simple rinse, and swish from my water bottle cleared all the remnants from between my wires and teeth. In fact, after awhile, I didn't even stress about checking my mouth after eating something. You get adjusted to the natural feeling of what a clean mouth feels like and can gauge whether you need to keep your mouth shut and rush to a mirror to clean your teeth - or not.

Some people think that your food options become drastically limited or perceive having braces as having all kinds of dietary restrictions but basically, if you're conscientious and careful while you're chewing, you should be fine.

Also,  just follow your orthodontist's recommendations :)

Soft, non-chewy foods for after adjustments: 

  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt 
  • Smoothies
  • Enchiladas
  • Scrambled eggs/Scrambled tofu
  • Your favorite soup (Minestrone or Potato-Leek are my favorites)
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Pancakes and applesauce

I am not a healthcare professional in any way, sort or form. I am only sharing my personal experience and would recommend that you consult a healthcare professional before entering into or following any course of action mentioned here or otherwise.

Braces Care - (Part 3)

~ Brushing ~

I brush my teeth twice a day. Once in the morning after I get up and right before I go to bed. Sometimes, if I was in my dorm for lunch, I would brush after I ate but I usually didn't carry a travel toothbrush in my bookbag so that wasn't a usual activity.

~ Rinsing ~

I rinse with mouthwash every night and most mornings. I rinse my mouth with plain water after most meals as a quick way to get the food remnants out from between my wires.

~ Flossing ~

Now here is where the almost in “following almost all the instructions” comes in that I mentioned in my first post of this series. I didn’t floss my teeth. I know, it’s horrible, incredibly detrimental to my dental hygiene, and shows lack of care. Flossing with braces is considerably more laborious than flossing without them. But the real fact is that: before I had braces I was still terrible at regular flossing and then after braces,  I was just too lazy to take the time to develop a flossing routine. I kick myself every time I disdainfully glare at the floss lying in my tooth care bag, quietly rebuking me every night. After all, flossing is a relatively simple and less time-consuming task than learning complex finance and accounting topics such as interest capitalization or accounting methods for derivatives and hedges that I somehow managed to find time for, but it just seems so much more difficult when it’s 10:45pm and I just want to crash into bed.  But the good news is that I’m getting better at flossing :)  I purchased these cool flossers that really help get in between the wires easily and I’ve been working really hard on maintaining consistency.

I am not a healthcare professional in any way, sort or form. I am only sharing my personal experience and would recommend that you consult a healthcare professional before entering into or following any course of action mentioned here or otherwise.

Life Before Braces (Part 2)

(Side view of my jaw before jaw surgery.)
Life Before Braces:

Ever since I was a small girl I knew that something about me was different. And that difference affected much of what I did every day. It affected how I ate, spoke, sang, smiled and anything else that involved the use of my teeth. From time to time during my routine dental checkups, my dentist would pause, closely observe my teeth, say “bite for me”,  lean back in a concerned way and say to my mom “you know, she is going to need treatment”.

The problem was that I had an underbite. It's a genetic condition that I inherited from my father when the lower jaw protrudes in front of the upper jaw. My teeth weren't obviously crooked or misaligned but the underbite was a significant concern. The first dentist who suggested treatment told my mom that they would have to do surgery and break my jaw to correct the issue. Such an extreme procedure sounded horrifying to my mother so she concluded that an underbite wouldn't be that bad of a difference to live with. And so did I - for a time.

(Side profile.)

As I grew older and began to mature, I began to realize more and more how much I really didn't like my underbite. Only rarely would someone make an overtly mean statement about my bite but it was the subtle innuendos and remarks that began to slowly eat away at my self-esteem. I became very self-conscious about my underbite and combined with other factors I retracted socially and emotionally. I was afraid to approach people because I was frightened of how they would respond. I felt that I wasn’t pretty enough.  Now in retrospect, I understand that my underbite wasn't even that bad. I have watched many youtube videos and have seen people in real life with a much worse condition than mine, but this just goes to show how significantly detrimental words can negatively influence and shape the life of an individual.

So I decided to see if something could be done about my underbite. I avidly researched dental procedures, orthodontic strategies, and read countless blogs about people just like me who were able to successfully correct their jaw. Unfortunately, however, no matter what I presented to my parents, they were still seriously concerned about the negative outcome of the procedures, and the significant cost.

When my family moved from New York to North Carolina, my new dentist became Dr. Haley Mann at Gottfried & Mann Dentistry. Dr. Mann is super cool, super friendly and totally hip!! She recommended that I have a consultation with Dr. Timothy Scanlan at TS Orthodontics. She explained how he uses cool robotics to shape the wires to create the perfect alignment for each patient’s teeth. I was so excited and Dr. Mann’s timely and caring explanation somehow worked magic on my mother's skepticism. She didn't have to say it twice for me to schedule a consultation!

(Front view of my jaw before jaw surgery.)

I was 16 when I had my first consultation with Dr. Scanlan. I remember his bubbly receptionist being so friendly and caring. She took several X-rays and photos then had us fill out some paperwork. Then Dr. Scanlan invited us into his office where he spent the next hour or so getting to know me, finding out about why I wanted braces,  and explaining the orthodontic process. He diagnosed my condition as mandibular prognathia - “a [polygenetic] potentially disfiguring genetic disorder where the lower jaw outgrows the upper, resulting in an extended chin” (Chudley). He assured us that orthodontics would help my condition significantly but also pointed out that I would need to have jaw surgery to fully correct my bite. He used a plastic jaw model to show us a simulated “before and after”. After the consult, I was optimistic and pumped and ready to start treatment but again, my parents retracted into skepticism and fear of the actual outcome. So I had to continue my campaign of research and presentations until when two years later they finally consented (and upgraded thier health insurance plan).

(Not so) Fun Fact...
This is Charles ll of Spain. In medieval times, underbites were being proliferated in royalty due to intermarriage and unprecedented inbreeding. Charles’s underbite was so bad that he could barely eat or speak, and due to his enlarged tongue was known to drool at times. Poor Charles...


Chudley, Albert E. (1998). "Genetic landmarks through philately – the Habsburg jaw". Clinical Genetics. 54 (4): 283–4. doi:10.1034/j.1399-0004.1998.5440404.x. PMID 9831338.

I am not a healthcare professional in any way, sort or form. I am only sharing my personal experience and would recommend that you consult a healthcare professional before entering into or following any course of action mentioned here or otherwise.

My Journey with Braces - (Part 1)

My Journey with Braces

I have had an awesome journey with braces! Some of my friends tell me about their experiences with orthodontics and I am absolutely astounded at the lack of professionalism and proper care that they have received.  My experience had been entirely positive and pain-free and I attribute all of that to my exceptional orthodontist Dr. Scanlan at TS Orthodontics, and to following almost all of the recommended instructions (more on the “almost” in a bit).

I was 18 when I finally had my first set of braces installed, and was I proud of them! I knew that it would be a journey. I was prepared to accept any complications or setbacks because the final outcome was all the incentive and motivation that I needed.

Orthodontic Procedures

The orthodontic procedures that I went through were pretty normal. I wore spacers for 1-2 weeks before the brackets, studs, and wires were actually put on. Once the braces were installed, I had regular bi-monthly appointments where Dr. Scanlan would cut the extra wire off and re-tie with different colors. I went through several rubber band routines that helped adjust and position certain teeth.

After Jaw surgery

Perhaps the most out-of-the-ordinary procedure was the closure of the spaces where two of my baby teeth used to be. For some reason, two of my baby side teeth (I think they were premolars/bicuspids or something like that…) didn’t fall out when I was younger and there were no adult teeth underneath. After about a year of orthodontic treatment, the pressure and movement of the surrounding teeth began to push them up. So, Dr. Scanlan recommended that I have them removed. I was initially concerned but he reassured me that lingering baby teeth are actually more common than it may seem. Removing the baby teeth would also be a longer lasting and more economical choice than the alternative of having implants. After the baby teeth were removed, I had a large gap on either side of my lower jaw - which would have been far more embarrassing than it was if I didn't have braces on. So to close the spaces, Dr. Scanlan first had me implement a special rubber band routine and then later installed some cool springs that helped to close the gap. Another perk of removing the baby teeth was, it helped to pull in my lower jaw.

Before Braces - Notice my jaw alignment.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

While I had braces, I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed simultaneously. I don’t exactly remember if there was a specific complication but Dr. Scanlan recommended that I have them removed since they had already ruptured. Dr. Scanlan recommended that I consider RockCliffe Oral Surgery. The removal was event free and Dr. Parworth was astounded at how fast the sockets healed up. I was relatively back to normal within 3 days with minimal medications. Yes, aside from the procedural anesthetics, I did not take any of the pain medications. I did take the antibiotics, because, well that's just smart!

I'll be chronicling my experience about my orthodontics and jaw surgery in the next few posts. So if you or someone you know is getting braces or undergoing jaw surgery, I hope my experience is helpful to you!

I am not a healthcare professional in any way, sort, or form. I am only sharing my personal experience and would recommend that you consult a healthcare professional before entering into or following any course of action mentioned here or otherwise.