The tagline of this blog, “A Project Blog by Liberty,” is to let people know that this site is all about Before and After photos of projects, not people. However, once in awhile I include a before and after post about weight loss or skincare.
Today is another such post. I hope you like it. It opens wide a part of me, a part of my heart.
Way back in another century, another millennium, I lost a baby tooth as a child. I waited and waited for it to grow back in, and it never did. On the opposite side of my mouth, an adult tooth came in, but it was very small. I had small teeth, and as a result had large gaps.
My Teeth the way I was born
Getting braces was never an option, and when I was 18 on my way to college, a stranger thought I was 12. I’m sure it was in part due to my teeth (and maybe also the fact that I didn’t wear makeup then). When I was growing up my grandmother had beautiful teeth, and they were dentures. I just thought why waste time and money on braces– I will just wait until I’m old and get dentures. Only recently I found out that she had gotten her dentures at the age of 32.
When I was in college, someone noticed that I did not enunciate when I talked. I was sub-consciously mumbling because I was keeping my lips as closed as I could when I spoke. Afterwards, I consciously tried to speak clearly with my lips still rather closed! Maybe I could have been a ventriloquist!
When I started this blog and made a profile picture, I realized– oh! all of my readers don’t need to know about my ugly teeth– I will just keep my lips closed when I smile (although I rarely do that in real life pictures). So to make a pretty profile pic that’s what I did.
And now… well, now I’m ready to show you about the big change I made, just this past December!
I made a video to show you what I looked like when I talked with my natural born teeth. You can see it below (sound on). After you watch it, keep reading for more details.
Usually I forgot about what my natural teeth looked like. Sometimes I was self conscious around people with perfect teeth.
When I was young, I just thought I would get dentures like my grandma, when I was old. I didn’t know she got hers when she was 32.
It was when I started trying to make a video like this, that I became painfully aware of what I looked like to other people. I didn’t like it.
When I put my profile picture on my blog, I smiled with my lips closed. I had always been apprehensive of orthodontics, bc my teeth were so small.
And then a friend had a similar procedure as the one I finally had. I LOVED her results! That is why I considered it. Price was another huge factor.
This is after some gum was removed on my peg lateral to prepare for the 5 crowns I would get. (I was accustomed to a lot of air between my teeth.)
These are the temporary teeth. It was very painful when he needed to give me more anesthetic. The medicine felt like very cold ice in my teeth.
Our insurance and HSA paid for it all!
I really liked not having a gap or spaces anymore!
Here are the permanent crowns, fused together as a bridge. I’m very pleased with the final result. No longer am I self conscious about my gaps!
Here’s my new smile!
I hope you have enjoyed seeing this B4 and After of my teeth! 🙂
More Details on My Decision to Change my Teeth
I had always been apprehensive about getting anything done to fix my teeth. I knew a couple of people who had had extensive work done, and I didn’t like how their teeth turned out. Was it bad that I was that untrusting? I was very afraid that I would not like the results of any orthodontic work. This was partly due to my small teeth– I knew braces alone would not fix my problems. Besides, wearing braces for a couple of years seemed very long and painful.
When Invisalign became available, I thought maybe that would be an option. But the dentist who consulted with me about it said I was not a good candidate for Invisalign.
My Teeth After I had them fixed!
Around 20 years ago, I went to get an estimate from an orthodontist. He said not only would I need braces, implants, and such for the top, but that my bottom teeth would also need braces in order to correct the angle of my top teeth properly and put them where they should be. You can imagine that the price of his estimate would have bought me a very nice car!
And so — because of the price and my apprehension– I was just content with how God had made me.
But last year I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. I talked to her for over an hour and then she told me had fixed her teeth. I hadn’t even noticed. What was so very interesting is that her teeth were much like mine, except she didn’t have a missing tooth and her gaps were not as large as mine. And what was the largest influencing factor on me? The dentist who had done her work– was my very own dentist! The same one I had had for nearly 20 years!
Once in awhile his dental partner (now retired) would tell me– “when you win the lottery, this is what you should do for your teeth….” Well, I hadn’t won the lottery because I don’t play!
But back to my dentist– he is the best dentist ever. He is relaxed, and he isn’t aggressive in his treatment of teeth. Ten years ago when a different dentist nearer to where I lived at the time wanted to pull my wisdom tooth because of a deep cavity, I called up my favorite dentist. “Come on in, I’ll see what I can do.” Sure enough, he filled my wisdom tooth, and I have all my wisdom teeth up to this date.
So when my friend told me that my very own favorite dentist had fixed her teeth (and they were gorgeous), I began to consider having mine fixed the same way. It was not an easy decision. I would be changing ME.
You need to understand something. I never wore eye makeup until I was 26. I have never even dyed my hair. I’m content with the color God gave me. (Don’t worry– it’s okay if you dye your hair; I will still be your friend! : ) )
And so began my thought processes. I made phone calls and asked my dentist’s office to check if insurance would cover any of the cost. Turns out, insurance covered more than they thought because the work wasn’t purely cosmetic– it was due to being born with a missing tooth and a small tooth. As I researched online– I found out that a small tooth– a peg lateral — was a common deformity. I never considered myself deformed, and I only in the past year knew my small tooth had a special name!
I thought about other people’s first impressions of me. And I considered about my children growing older into their teens and introducing their mother to their friends– and I thought “hmm.”
Frequent Zoom meetings had me seeing myself on camera like I had never seen before. But on the other hand, in public wearing a mask for the past year, no one could see my teeth. It was kind of funny to think of fixing my teeth when most people couldn’t see them anyway.
Then in November of 2020 I was sort of pushed to make a decision: our dental insurance coverage would be changing in January. The preapproval I had received as part of my research was good through December. If I wanted to do it and get it partly covered, the time was now.
So I made the leap. I decided to get my teeth fixed after 40-ish years of living with them the way they grew.
How Did You Fix Your Teeth?
So what, exactly, did I have done? I will tell you. Months before I made my decision, I went for a consultation. My dentist took molds of my teeth and sent them off to have models made. He also made an example of how new crowns would look.
The model of my original teeth are on the left. The model of what new teeth could look like are on the right.
When I saw these models, I took lots of pictures– the sides, open, everything. I didn’t particularly care for the model of what my teeth could look like when they were fixed. I’m usually good at visualizing finished projects, but I didn’t like these teeth. I thought they looked masculine– too square. They are the reason that it took me so long to make up my mind. I didn’t want to hate my new teeth.
But the model of my real teeth– wow. I could see how terrible they really were. I knew my teeth looked like those fake hillbilly teeth people can buy for Halloween, except mine were real. I made another consultation with the dentist, and brought my husband so he could ask questions, too.
Well, I finally made my decision, which is why I’m writing this post!
First, my dentist removed some gum from my peg lateral because over the years, the gum had grown down over my tooth. A week later he prepped that tooth and my other 3 front teeth just like teeth are prepped for crowns. They get shaved down quite a bit. I took pictures but they are too horrendous to share here. : ) You’re welcome.
For five hours (with a break in the middle) he prepped those teeth, and then created temporary teeth until the permanent ones could come back from the lab. (Another reason for my hesitation: What if covid shut down dentists and I was stuck! Thankfully, that didn’t happen.) My upper lip swelled like an allergic reaction as a result of the anesthesia. Then before he finished I needed more anesthesia and that was the worst part because it felt colder than ice as the numbing medicine flowed into my face and exposed teeth.
Afterwards my jaw was pretty sore from being open for so long, and my upper lip was sore from being swollen and stretched at the same time.
Two weeks later, I had my last appointment. The temporary set came off, and the permanent set got glued on. It is a set of 5 crowns that are attached in one piece (see the video, above). [To fix the squareness of the masculine model teeth, the corners were beveled just a bit.] The actual process happened in about one month’s time.
My husband’s reaction to my new teeth? He said they looked normal– like they should look. As if I had been born with them. And that was exactly what I had hoped for. I wanted them to blend in with my face– I didn’t want them to shout “teeth” to everyone who looked at me. My daughter thought they were beautiful. And my son said they look normal, like they’re supposed to.
Now that I have had them for nearly two months…. well, I am still getting used to them. I thought maybe people would notice my new teeth (people that I hadn’t told what I was going to do)– but no— no one yet has seen me and declared “Your teeth!! They’re different!” It’s the same as it was with my friend when I didn’t notice her new teeth!
Wearing a mask doesn’t help people notice your new teeth, either…. Just another reason that I will be glad to end that practice one day.
I am very glad that I did not have orthodontic work done. This solution was perfect for my situation. I am very happy with my new smile! : )
P.S. I only had a full set of teeth for 2 short weeks. A bottom molar became abscessed and I had to have it pulled. So I still have a missing tooth gap– it’s just in a less noticeable place!
(I made the velvet shirt I am wearing.)