Last summer I went in for what I though was a routine check-up with my orthodontist, one where he would take a quick look at my teeth, ask if I was still wearing my retainer regularly and say he would see me in a year. What actually happened went a little differently.
My doctor did check my teeth and ask if I was still wearing my retainer, and said that everything looked good, but then he had me take an x-ray and this is where things got messy. The x-ray revealed that while my teeth appeared straight, the roots of my teeth had shifted dramatically, which if left alone, would cause issues. Then, he lowered the boom: the only way to fix the problem with my roots was braces.
Braces? I was 19 and just finished my first year in college in Manhattan. There was no way I was going back in braces. But as it turns out, I did not really have much of an option and my mom and sister, as well as the doctor, thought it made more sense to put on the braces while I was already there rather than come back for another appointment. I mean, it was more convenient, but I was not emotionally ready. I know it sound silly, but when you already had braces for almost three years and have now been out of them for over four, it is hard to think about having to wear them again. Not to mention, I had plans to go to a graduation party later that night and could not imagine showing up with braces!
After I was finally able to calm down long enough for the braces to be put on, my doctor explained that there were some things that he could do to make the braces more discreet. While Invisalign was unfortunately not an option for me, he was able to give me clear brackets, and even though I would have to wear a regular wire, it really did make a difference. So the braces were on, and while they weren’t terrible, I was still not happy.
That night at the graduation party it was clear how uncomfortable I was. I tried to keep my mouth closed as much as possible and when I finally tried to eat something, my mouth was too sore to bite, I was miserable.
I kept thinking back to middle school and how braces didn’t seem as bad because so many of my classmates had them. But now? Now that I was in college? I was horrified of how people would react and hated the thought of going out with my friends and looking completely out of place.
Now, almost a year later, I realize how much I was overreacting. While it is not ideal, having braces in college is by no means the end of the world. I have never gotten any rude comments or jokes, and besides being mistaken for a middle school-er once–to be fair I was not wearing any makeup and am only 5’2″–no one has thought of me as younger than my friends when we go out. Even now that I work in the fashion industry, I have gotten questions from people saying they need to wear braces again but are apprehensive, but they never comment anything negative. I am happy that I decided to go through braces again now, rather then have waited until I was older.
So if you have any dental issues, even if it’s just some small imperfections you have been thinking you would like to fix but feel you are too old to, I say do it now. There are several options your doctor can suggest to make them less noticeable, and you don’t want to wait and have to wear braces when you’re getting married or having kids of your own. I am due to get my braces off later this month and now have a near perfect smile because of them.
Do you or anyone you know wear braces and are in their teens? Would you think anything of it if you met someone that did?