Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adult Braces: Learning to Eat With Braces

Until you have braces, there is no way to comprehend the dilemma most commonly referred to as "eating."

The first two days were simply odd - almost as if my mouth were numb.  We are used to our teeth feeling all the sensations of substance and temperature as we enjoy the bursting of molecules of foods jumping around our mouths.  Braces block most of that.  Even swallowing at all caused my tongue to rub on metal.  Days three and four brought on a lot of strife.  I tried to eat.  I tried to drink.  I work out a lot, so I knew I needed calories and forced myself to eat, but cried simultaneously. I've been through my fair share of blisters on the back part of my tongue and I know I still have to get my bottom back molars wrapped, which means I get to go through this transition process again soon.  Oy. That joke of days three and four only lasted two days, luckily.

Braces also block the capability of fully chewing with my molars (because of my build ups) and I've heard this is the same for many others.  Imagine taking a bite of pizza, chewing two or three times, then swallowing.  There will be big chunks of food you haven't had the opportunity of "flavor-bursting," as I like to call it.  There is something beautiful about the process of biting your food until you have pulverized each crumb and burst the flavors open in your mouth.   For me, no matter how many times I chew, my molars can't crunch down, always leaving me swallowing chunks of food that I wish with all my heart I could enjoy much more.

Speaking of enjoying food - this has been a huge mental hurdle for me.  I love food.  Understatement.  I LOVE food.  Imagine the frustration of, let's say, wanting to chew a Skittle and chomping once, then swallowing.  What a gyp, right?!  No savoring, no texture-enjoyment, no flavor-bursting, nothing!  I don't eat Skittles, that's just all I could think of that most people can relate to.  I have tried to eat all my favorite foods, but I just don't enjoy them anymore.  If it isn't the chewing dilemma, it's the fact that everything involves my tongue hitting metal.  Having that texture and taste involved with every bite kinda ruins it.  Now that I am six weeks in, I am through with the worst of my withdrawals and cravings.  I am not close to joking at all when I state that I felt like an addict going through withdrawals.    

When I do chew, I have to cover my mouth because I haven't yet gotten used to the food sticking on the front of my teeth and I think more food will get between my molars for the sad-sack chomp if I open wider.  I have to take bigger chomps to try and free the captive crumbs from their cages, which leads to a lot of embarrassing spitting and drooling.  Yes, I am not above admitting there has been a noticeably higher amount of saliva escaping these days.  I hear this all goes away pretty quickly.

Five weeks after I got braces, I was finally able to bite into soft breads with my front teeth, which weirds me right out as I feel the food sinking into my front braces.  I prefer cutting up all my food and shoving it directly to the back of my mouth.

What do I eat?

  • Squeezy fruit snacks.  Yep, the ones for kids like pureed mango, applesauce, peaches, and berries.
  • Mashed potatoes.  I prefer the instant because they take five minutes and there are no lumps I have to "gum" or suck on til they dissolve.
  • Milkshakes.  Oh Milkshakes.  Sonic peanut butter fudge is my best friend.  
  • Soft Serve.  Iceberg chocolate soft-serve has saved me too often.
  • Chocolate milk.  I drink 8 oz. before and after the gym and sometimes when I know I need to eat, but just can't work up the energy.
  • Protein drinks.  Calories, protein, calcium - it's efficient.  
  • Smoothies (nope).  We bought stuff for delicious, healthy, balanced nutritious meals, but I can't bring myself to make them because I'm too darned cold at home.  Will someone tell Rob 66-degrees is not warm?  I eat the soft-serve and shakes in the car on the way home, people.  
  • You might think popsicles and the like would be good, but anything that involves sticking your tongue out repetitively means a lot of abrasion and escaped saliva - not pretty and pleasant.
  • Avoid anything highly pigmented if you have ceremic braces with clear rubber bands - spaghetti sauce, curries, that sort of thing.  These will dye your brackets and your bands.

You may be wondering if I've lost weight.  Truth be told, I lost six pounds pretty quickly, but then I went on a trip to The Montage in Park City for a convention and immediately to Rochester, New York.  The Montage is a five-star hotel with five-star food.  I did my darndest to try everything I could at each meal.  In regards to Rochester, if you don't know a lot about the east coast, let me just tell you that it is food mecca.  I kept trying to eat everything I got my hands on.  Nothing was really that great because I couldn't enjoy the eating process, but I kept trying over and over again.  My mouth was so sore from all my trying I had to take pain medicine.  I gained all the weight back and didn't even enjoy the process.  I guess lame sauce is on my menu.

My final thoughts on this whole eating debacle is that in a few weeks everything will be fine and I'll have adapted.  In the midst of all of this, I've had many times where I can't imagine "getting used to" this new way of eating, but I know I will.  This is my honest point of view six weeks into the process.  I want other adults to know that it is ridiculously wonderful and ridiculously difficult all at the same time.  I didn't really find a lot from a patient's point of view before I got my braces, so I'm sharing.

Again, final thoughts: So worth it.

Buffalo Wings in Buffalo, New York - notice the fork for cramming things into
the back of my mouth to avoid biting with my front teeth

Adult Braces: Making the Decision
Adult Braces: Getting Spacers aka The Prep Work
Adult Braces: Getting Braces On
Adult Braces: Learning to Eat with Braces
Adult Braces: My First Adjustment
Adult Braces: Rubber Band Replacement (the first few)
Adult Braces: My Second Adjustment
Adult Braces: My Third Adjustment



Jeanette said...

I remember learning to eat with braces. It was not an easy task to accomplish. I am glad to read that others suffered the same pain that I endured. My favorite food that I stopped eating was popcorn. I found it easier to stop eating it altogether rather than deal with the aftermath.

David Michaud said...

I have to get braces in a month I've literally read all of your posts you are amazing.

Alia parker said...

I love this article so much. I was the thing about home workout soo that I can fit my body in this quarantine. But recently I had an injury on my ankle. That's why now i am on wheelchair. Through this can easily move.