After years of indecision, I’ve chosen to invest in my smile and get adult braces. This is a big deal! Before now, whenever my dentist would recommend braces I thought, I’d rather spend that $5000 on more important things (you know, like food, college, a car…). Plus, I wasn’t self-conscious about my crooked grin, so I thought, what’s the point?
With maturity, I’ve realized that fixing my smile went beyond the superficial. Suffering from an over-crowded mouth manifests in jaw problems, TMJ, uneven wear on teeth and earaches. If I wanted to keep my teeth into my senior years, I needed to take action.
Bonus, after the 18 months of metal mouth were over, I’d be more attractive. (Hey baby! Check out my gorgeous bicuspids!) It’s comforting to think, people don’t treat you differently just because you have crooked teeth. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that. Shyeah, right!
We live in a society that puts a great deal of importance on appearance. Like it or not, having straight teeth matters.
A recent study suggests whether a person’s smile and teeth are straight or crooked can have significant impact on her or his romantic and career success. People like me with crooked teeth are viewed as less intelligent and accomplished than those with straight smiles.
Just by having straight teeth, people are more likely to see you as happy, trustworthy, wealthy and successful.
If you are plunging ahead with adult braces, there are some things you need to know that will ease the process. Aside from the choices you’ll make with your orthodontist, like metal vs. ceramic, removing teeth, etc., you will need to consider the following:
Oral maintenance is essential.
Keeping your teeth and gums clean is always important, but it is crucial when you throw braces into the equation. Brackets and wire trap all kinds of yummy leftovers and make it extremely difficult to floss properly. There are all kinds of gadgets out there to help make this easy on you, from sonic toothbrushes to water flossers to a standard toothbrush. It doesn’t need to be fancy. As my orthodontist says, the best toothbrush is the one you’ll use.
If you’re having teeth removed, it’s going to hurt. A lot.
If your mouth is overcrowded, you need space for those teeth to shift. Most often that space is created by removing teeth. I had the luck of needing eight teeth pulled. Yee-haw! Four were wisdom teeth, the lower two being impacted which required oral surgery. I developed dry socket after surgery, which was horrible and doubled my recovery time. (PLEASE! Don’t use a straw until a week after surgery. Big mistake on my part.)
Soft food is your friend.
Think baby food soft; mushy, unrecognizable, and (hopefully) nutritious. Smoothies and purées are a great way to sneak in some veggies. Milkshakes for breakfast sounds fun, but soon the novelty wears off and you need something more substantial (don’t forget, NO STRAWS). You will crave food with texture before you’re done healing, but it is so important to baby your tender mouth right now. Be patient.
Use your wax!
Your orthodontist will provide you with some wax to ease friction in your mouth. When you’re a braces newbie, your mouth will be very tender and susceptible to cuts and sores caused by the brackets and wires. Don’t “deal with it”, put that stuff on!
You’re going to sound funny.
But only temporarily. Your mouth needs time to adapt to those foreign objects on your teeth. This may cause you to speak with a lisp. It takes roughly two weeks for your tongue, lips, and facial muscles to adjust to new oral movements due to braces wear. In the meantime, try slowing down your speech and singing to increase word clarity.
Have I scared you off yet? I hope not. True, there is a learning curve to wearing braces as an adult. Some parts, especially in the beginning, really bite. Just remember, it won’t last forever. In the long run, you’re doing the right thing. You’re investing in your health, and you, my friend, are so worth it.
Do you have experience with wearing braces as an adult? What were some of the hardest adjustments for you?