Dental Braces and Pregnancy

by Mary from Oregon

As a little girl I always imagined what it would be like being pregnant and having a baby. However, in all my dreams and plans would I have imagined that I would be pregnant and wearing braces? Braces to me was something I had as a teenager. Braces was not really an experience that seems to go hand in hand with creating life but rather with proms and acne.

Thankfully, getting braces as an adult is so much more common that the stigma attached to braces is no longer a big factor. People rarely notice or comment on adults sporting braces. I have friends that consider my having braces a fashion statement and youthful looking and "cute", as they put it. I am not embarrassed to smile big around people I don't know 
I'm actually proud of my braces and think they don't look bad at all. My teeth look really straight now and that also helps you feel good.

I got braces last year just before Thanksgiving. At the time I had one son, who was just three. It didn't really cross my mind when I decided to get braces that I might want to have another child before I got my braces off. I often wonder why I didn't consider this but I guess I was just taking it all "one step at at time". It just seemed like a good time to get braces. We could afford it and I knew I would need them for at least two years and getting over with as soon as possible seemed like a good idea to me.

After having braces for 8 months, I began to think that I better have a second child, for at 35 I started to notice my biological clock ticking louder each day. I tried to imagine what I would look like 8 months pregnant with full braces. It had taken months for me to be able to look in a mirror and not gasp. I wondered if I would go back to gasping again as my blossoming waistline became more apparent? Would my self esteem remain in tact during this experience? Could I actually develop a better sense of humor by doing this seemingly daunting task? I began to wonder.

I told my husband I wondered if we should wait until I got my braces off. I wasn't sure I could handle this unique look? He urged me that the timing was perfect. If I could just "tough it out" and have a baby now, I would have 6 months to get rid of the pregnancy weight just in time to get off my braces. He said, "Then you'll look drop dead gorgeous!" He also assured me that I probably wouldn't be any more thrilled about just getting off braces and then going into a pregnancy. Granted, my husband is a trial attorney and has the gift of persuasion, but in the end I agreed that I should opt to "get it all over with at the same time".

Luckily, I became pregnant right away and there was no time to second guess if I had "the right stuff" to endure pregnancy and braces, which I lovingly call "the double whammy".

Upon announcing my pregnancy to my orthodontists, I asked if I would get some special type of reward for being pregnant and having braces? They laughed and said they would give me any award I would like. They also told me that they thought it was worse to be married with full metal braces because those pictures you'll have to see the rest of your life.

It did help to also learn at that same appointment that my orthodontist was also pregnant. In fact, her due date is just days from mine. She was so happy she became emotional and expressed how great it would be to have someone to share the experience with. I wondered if she would be willing to put braces on herself and share the "double whammy"? That same week I saw an interview with Olympic track star Marion Jones, who had just given birth to a baby boy. She was so inspirational, as she also had braces during her pregnancy and worked out the whole time. I felt likeif she could do it, then why not me?

I'm now almost 4 months pregnant and I don't show yet, so really the only thing that has been the pits was morning sickness and braces. I went to an appointment where they put me in a solid steel arch wire and I was so unbelievably sore and also had morning sickness 24/7. My mouth hurt, my stomach hurt and I felt truly pathetic. I didn't want to eat because my teeth hurt and I needed to eat something because an empty stomach with morning sickness is real trouble. My teeth were only sore for a couple of weeks, yet the morning sickness lasted more like 8. I made it through and now I can look back and say "At least I'm not sick all the time." [editor's note: I was sick to my stomach during the whole first trimester with both my kids. I can relate. Uugh.]

My OB doctor just thinks my braces are "beautiful" and gave me big compliments when he saw them. He assured me that there was nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman and those clear braces would only enhance the "glow". (Perhaps it was the baby pink ligatures on my clear braces he liked?) He did make me feel better about having braces and being pregnant. He said to me, "I think it is just wonderful and amazing they make braces now that are beautiful like those so adults can wear them with pride and feel great during treatment." I know he meant it and I really did appreciate the compliments.

The only other difference is that I have a ton of doctor appointments. Between the monthly ortho adjustments, monthly OB appointments and getting my teeth cleaned three times a year, haircuts, and dog and horses vet and farrier appointments, I stay pretty busy making sure that I don't plan them all on one day. When I have an ortho and OB appointment on one day, I feel pretty poked and prodded at the end of the day.

As for my progress for both, they both seem slow. Watching your tummy bulge and your teeth move at the same time is much like watching the seasons change and the grass grow. I guess the lesson here for me is to "relax, take it all in, enjoy and let go".

We all spend a lot of energy trying to hurry things along. We do this with so many things from raising our children to getting through the process of having braces. Since I know this will be my last baby, I'm trying not to hurry it. Rather I'm trying to savor each day, each little kick and flutter in my belly. I'm trying to cherish this pregnancy for what it is and that is a blessing and a miracle, for which I'm so thankful.

I believe my thinking has changed in regard to wearing braces and going through ortho treatment. I know I will get my braces off and this experience will be a memory soon enough. I feel lucky to be able to afford to have braces with the wonderful end goal of a beautiful smile. I'm trying to remind myself to also enjoy that experience too and be thankful that I can do this for myself. My orthos treat their patients with love and respect and that makes it pleasant and kind of fun. Seeing the changes with my smile makes me so happy and I know this "double whammy" will be a memory that I'll someday laugh about and probably smile about with fondness and with perfectly straight teeth.

I truly expected that I would feel "ugly" having braces and being pregnant. However, I must admit that my skin in glowing, my nails and hair are strong and lustrous and my curvy figure doesn't look too shabby either. My best friend went out with me shopping the other day and just stared at me and said "WOW..... I can't stop staring at you. I've never seen you look so beautiful before. You have that gorgeous spark and glow they always talk about pregnant women having!" I think I was feeling that good that day too despite the braces and being pregnant-"the double whammy"!

I'll be sure to keep you posted as my smile and pregnancy both progress. Love to everyone here and thank you for being such a wonderfully supportive group of truly amazing people.

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