When I was 12, I got braces and wore them for almost 3 years. They came off a few weeks into my sophomore year of high school (10th grade). I have always been glad I had braces to straighten my teeth and get rid of the gaps, though I haven't always loved the shape of my teeth and how they look in pictures.
As a typical pre-teen/teen, I had to be reminded regularly to brush my teeth. My dad often told me that he wasn't spending all that money (thousands of dollars) for me to let my teeth rot out of my mouth and need dentures. Fortunately, I developed the habit and I've taken good care of my teeth since - other than the whole not going to the dentist thing. (I finally went last fall, for anyone who is wondering.)
As of last Friday morning (July 11), my dental avoidance is officially over.
I took a trip with Lara down to a business retreat in Mississauga for the weekend. We drove down on Thursday, had dinner with the group, then everyone spent a few hours hanging out and having drinks. I was pretty dehydrated from being careful not to drink too much (and need too many stops on the trip) and, of course, drinking alcohol can cause dehydration as well. When I went to bed, I was fine but woke up not feeling great.
Without going into all the gory details, I managed to smash my face against something and nearly knock my front teeth out of my mouth. I had to wake poor Lara up to take me to the ER where I was thoroughly checked (and poked and prodded), but pronounced perfectly healthy. Before they let me go I was given firm instructions to make my way to the dentist to have my teeth looked at.
I had given Lara the green light to head back to the retreat because there was no sense in both of us being there. When I saw how close the dentist they referred me to was, I decided to walk. I wasn't in pain (the nurses couldn't believe I turned down pain meds) and I was feeling absolutely fine. Even my horrible dental anxiety wasn't cropping up. However, the dentist I went to first found me an oral surgeon who could work on my mouth instead since I told her about my anxieties. She was lovely and didn't charge me an arm and a leg even though she took x-rays - it was good that I had a positive experience because that helped me keep any anxiety in check.
The oral surgeon they found was right back across the street by the ER, so I walked back over and found yet another lovely group of people intent on helping me. The surgeon was so kind and compassionate - especially when I told him that my dehydrated state was going to make it extremely difficult for them to get an IV in me (it took seven tries at the hospital). He agreed that I have crappy veins and did the procedure with just a pill sedative and local anesthetic.
This was huge for me. I did really well, stayed calm and got through it without the anxiety getting the better of me. I can honestly say that the staff being so wonderful was a huge factor in my ability to cope so well.
The surgeon was able to do the procedure in a way that will (hopefully) save my teeth, though I also have a huge chip in one of my front teeth. I've also continued to have no pain.
I don't know if my teeth are definitely okay yet - that will take a while. But I feel really good about how I dealt with a situation that could have caused me a great deal of anxiety. I stood up for myself when I needed to in the ER and I made it through a crazy day with a lot of help from my friends. I have such wonderful friends and this weekend was a good reminder of how very blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.
Dad, I'm so sorry all those years of braces got messed up. The bright side is that it could have been worse and, of course, you aren't having to pay for me to fix it all over again. :)