Our Journey with Braces
Episode One – Transcript
Nikki: Hi, this is Nikki and Kristina from Moses Nutrition, and we both just got braces. Yay… This is not for cosmetic reasons. This is for health reasons, and we’re gonna tell you why we got them, and we’re actually gonna be bringing you along with repeated podcasts here on our journey as we continue through braces and also as we seek out alternatives, because as it turns out, braces are not fun.
So, I’m gonna let Kristina tell you her end of this first. She’s actually the one who got her braces first. It was because we found a new dentist; we both went in to get a consultation at the dentist, and she wound up doing this first. We have slightly different reasons. So I’ll just let her tell you her side here.
Kristina: Yeah, so growing up I always noticed that I had to shift my jaw to chew, I actually had to bring it forward to chew. And throughout my various visits with various dentists that I always brought this up at…because my teeth are straight — they’re in alignment with each other as far as up and down goes — every dentist I’d seen said, “Oh that’s just the way you’re jaw is shaped; that’s just the way your teeth are shaped.”
And what wound up happening is over the years, the bottom teeth, the front of the bottom teeth, were running into the back of the top teeth, and they were starting to chip. And I’d even have dentists say, “Oh you’re brushing too hard. And that’s why they’re starting to get these little cracks. You’re brushing too hard.”
And I was not brushing too hard.
So I finally went to get this consultation with this new dentist, and he broke the news that I do need braces, and you know it would be two years and blah, blah, blah, and however much it was for braces, and I was kind of like, I was actually a little devastated to tell you the truth, because my whole life I was told I have strong teeth and my teeth are perfectly straight and I would never need braces. And finally, somebody was saying this, and I sat there and went “he is a kook” and then I let it sink in and I went, no, you know… And I started noticing that consciously being aware of when I chewed where my teeth were going. And that there was strain. It was literally straining my jaw to chew every time I chewed, so I went and saw the orthodontist and we got started.
Nikki: Yeah, so she got her bottoms. Actually, the first step of this, and this is for both of us… So I’ll tell you how I wound up at the orthodontist. I’ve had TMJ issues. TMJ is this joint, right here on both sides that connects the jaw to the skull, that’s what TMJ is: the name of the joint. So when people say they have TMJ or TMJ issues, what they’re saying is they have some problem in this joint. So for about 20 years I’ve been dealing with some issues on the right side here.
It’s been uncomfortable, tight, tension. When it’s really bad it feels like it covers the whole side of my head and all of this starts to squeeze and pull. It’s very distracting and very uncomfortable. You do have to be careful if you talk too much, if you chew a lot of crunchy food, it’ll flare it up.
I’ve done a lot of things to try to address this over the years. Chiropractic, which actually helped a lot. Going out to Beverly Hills for $300 a pop 20-minute massages that did nothing, I have to say. You know, different things over time, but it never fully resolved.
So when I went to the new dentist that Krissi went to… Funny enough, I have no cavities, I don’t have root canals. I had no other work needing to be done, but there was starting to be some evidence that my bike wasn’t correct, and he did point that out to me. It was not immediately apparent that I needed braces, because the apparency was looking at my teeth that they fit together okay. Right, but I had all this TMJ stuff. So I had braces in my late teens and not an experience I ever thought I would have to repeat, and unfortunately did not wear my retainers very long. My upper teeth are fine. I like my upper teeth. They look nice. My bottoms had started to move, and I got curious, hearing about Invisalign, if it would be something that would be easy to fix since Krissi was already going in. I thought, I might as well check it out.
It turns out, the guy is also a jaw specialist.
So when I went in, there began my jaw journey and both of us needed our bite adjusted — we needed to see where should our jaw really be.
It turns out I have been compensating for my bite. I didn’t know it, and we didn’t know how bad actually that condition was until we corrected it, and what he gave us was a little device. They call it an orthotic. It’s a little plastic or acrylic material here. They have to custom shape this to your teeth, and usually with us, it was one that fit on the bottom and it will pop in your mouth and snap onto your teeth, and they adjust it; they trim off the top of it and they adjust it in different ways to make it so that your teeth are connecting evenly where they want them to connect with it on, right? It doesn’t… With an off your teeth might connect in a different way, right?
And with it on, they connect where they want it to connect. And what that does over time as you wear it, is it relaxes the jaw into the right position. Now they have to go and re-adjust it so every two to three weeks we had to go back in. Our jaw had relaxed and so now the little piece didn’t fit quite right, and they’d trim a little bit more off of it, and each time they did that, the jaw could settle into its proper position and they had to do that first.
What is the proper position? If you don’t know, how can you do braces to correct the bite if you don’t know where the jaw is supposed to be?
Well, it turns out in my case, these teeth that looked to fit together perfectly when I closed my mouth, when my jaw got in the right place they don’t connect it all. I have no teeth connection except one spot in the molars in the back. So my jaw was, my lower jaw was shoving itself forward and to the right to try and connect with my teeth.
Krissi: Mine was, too.
Nikki: And Krissi had the same exact forward and to the right, interestingly. We’re sisters so it’s not too surprising.
And what was happening is that the… For me I’m starting to get arthritis on the right side of my jaw.
It’s purely mechanical, you know. Nutrition is helping, I’m sure, but this is a mechanical issue. The jaw was in the wrong place constantly trying to correct. Not only that but I was grinding my teeth at night — and similarly with her — because the body knew that something was wrong, and it was constantly trying to auto-correct.
Krissi: It was trying to find that spot that it couldn’t.
Nikki: It’s trying to find the right spot.
Krissi: It was positioned out of through years of repositioning and it couldn’t get that spot anymore.
Nikki: That’s right. Now, I don’t know if my original orthodontics was done incorrectly. I suspect as much because my TMJ started 20 years ago, shortly after I had them removed. So I suspect that the original orthodontist did not have the tools at the time to really fully measure and see where the jaw position really should be, right, so that’s one of the downsides to orthodontics is if it’s not done correctly, you can wind up with a bad bite, right?
So that’s what led us into doing this and into the braces journey. But we first both of us had to wear this for months until our jaws relaxed into the right place. Then the orthodontist took molds, very careful molds. He was very thorough. I head gear on. I don’t know if you did, too, but it was wild this thing they wrap around and shove in your mouth;
Krissi: It’s like an ancient torture device.
Nikki: Exactly. It wasn’t painful.
Krissi: It looked it.
Nikki: So to see where to begin, and then both of us got our lowers on first, and I’m actually gonna save that for our next podcast. We’re going to describe to you what it is like to get braces for those of you who’ve never been through it.
For me, it was very different as an adult than as a teenager, for some reason.
Krissi: I had no frame of reference, so I went in with the expectation that it would be awful. And I think when you go in expecting it to be the worst thing you’ve ever experienced, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, but if you go in going, “Oh it’ll be no big deal” you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised.
Nikki: Yeah, they’re not fun. So we’re going to go over that in our next podcast. So please stay tuned and we’re going to talk about what it’s like to get braces. This is an important issue. Many of our clients have a jaw that is not properly aligned. And both of us, close to us, our mother, we didn’t know it, but she’s had issues of the same problem and her teeth had been eroded. Now she’s seventy years old — still has all of her original teeth, which is amazing — but they were just nubs. They were ground down to probably half their proper size.
Krissi: Straight lines.
Nikki: Straight lines from grinding. The dentin was exposed, which left them open to cavities, and she had to have a full mouth reconstruction, which for any of you who have ever looked into this, you’re talking about anywhere between 30 and 70 thousand dollars. And she had to have all of her teeth built up and her whole mouth rebuilt up because she didn’t handle this when she should have, and so this really brought it home to us that we cannot ignore this issue. So anyway, we will continue here in the next podcast.