7. Pre-Surgery Treatment

In September, 2003, the braces segment of my treatment began. I went with porcelain brackets and clear bands on the top and traditional metal brackets with gray bands on the bottom - I had no desire whatsoever to draw attention to my mouth, since I was already so fixated on everything going on with it anyway. In my research, I found out that porcelain brackets sometimes aren’t that good on the bottom teeth since the material is softer than metal and can wear away if the upper teeth hit the brackets when biting down. The porcelain brackets were also more expensive, and since I don’t show my bottom teeth as much as my top anyway, I thought I’d save money and only get the porcelain brackets for my top teeth. It was amazing to see how much my teeth had moved since the last time I had braces - seeing the archwire definitely not in a straight line really emphasized that point for me. Even though I had worn my retainer every night like my first orthodontist had told me to, one of my bottom front teeth had shifted back pretty obviously, and my right back molar had also moved so much that it was pretty much uselesss for chewing. My orthodontist wasn’t able to get bands around my back molars (top and bottom) since my cheek encrouched upon them too much that it didn’t leave enough space to maneuver, so I ended up just getting brackets on my very back teeth.

After three months, my oral surgeon was already saying that my bite was nearly ready for surgery. Unfortunately, the communication between Dr. G. and Dr. D. (my orthodontist) left much to be desired, to the point that Dr. G. was surprised when I showed up at his office with braces on - he thought I didn’t even need them on until after surgery. Once we got that little communications glitch cleared up, I ended up having my braces on for 8 months before my tooth alignment was deemed ready for surgery. I thought there would be some sort of weird alignment plan to prepare for how my teeth would be after surgery (like scoping out how my teeth might hit using my models and moving my teeth accordingly, but I guess it’s also hard to predict that since I had so many teeth and jaw segments move around), but instead they just got back aligned in a nice, straight line, my errant bicuspid got pushed back down so it wouldn’t get in the way after surgery, and my teeth on the left side were thankfully left alone. I was glad to not have to go through wearing bands until after surgery.

On the insurance side of things, I found out that my dentist just so happened to be in my dental insurance network, so I got a $1,500 discount to bring the cost of my orthodontic treatment down to the amount he was capped at. I also was able to get my surgery approved!! Even though my orthodontist and pretty much every oral surgeon I spoke to but Dr. G. had told me I didn’t have a chance of getting my health insurance to cover my surgery, they still approved it with only one request for approval sent to them. So I think it did pay off to select an oral surgeon who had told me up-front that he worked very closely with my insurance company and didn’t anticipate any problems getting my treatment approved.

My doctors decided a few months before my surgery that I would also need to have my top jaw broken as well in order to correct my overbite and to swing the left side of my jaw out so that the teeth would meet on that side. My oral surgeon recommended going with jaw wiring rather than rigid fixation post-surgery given all the breaks I would have to provide more stability. I agreed whole-heartedly, given that I didn’t want any chance of things being able to move around. How ironic. Dr. G. also said that I should only need to be out of work for a week, but I banked on taking a week and a half off to give myself enough time to heal properly… my optimism is quite funny in hindsight.