My brace journey started way back in Primary school. At around 8-years-old I was told I would be in need of orthodontic treatment to correct my mangled mess teeth. Two large teeth at the front stuck out like a rabbit, and the remainder were positioned in a way that would cause me to whistle at random intervals in a sentence.
“Come back when you’re 12 to begin treatment.” instructed my orthodontist.
I collected my Tom and Jerry sticker, the ultimate symbol of bravery, and I did not return until I had transitioned into a hormonal 12-year-old.
The day I returned, I was examined by the same orthodontist. But all treatment soon came to a halt when fear prevented me from agreeing to jaw realignment surgery. No amount of Tom and Jerry stickers could coax my 12-year-old self onto an operating table! The thought of having my jaw broken in two places and screwed back together with metal plates filled me with dread. Not to mention the added worry of never regaining sensation in the bottom half of my face.
My brace journey was over. Or so I thought…
Almost 10 years later, at the age of 21, I decided to explore my options once more. I attended private consolations for Invisalign, the ‘clear brace’ treatment, accumulated cosmetic advice and spent a great deal of time and money to be told hugely varied professional opinions.
Thankfully, my experiences, combined with an extra 10 years of maturity allowed me to make an educated choice on the direction of my treatment. I had the confidence to ask questions, and the ability to fully understand the answers I received in return. This is something I would never have managed had I not waited until my 20s to pursue treatment. My naïve 12-year-old self would never have challenged professional opinions.
On January 20th, 2016, I finally received my fixed braces.
I selected silver coloured bands, as I was informed by the assistant at the dental hospital they were the most natural looking, and this colour selection became routine each time I underwent a brace adjustment.
At first, I felt self-conscious about the shiny silver new addition to my face. I felt anxious about what people might say. However, I soon remembered I was no longer 12. I was an adult who associated with other adults. Unlike most people who experience braces, I did not face Monday to Friday in a school full of savage teenagers. Had I received braces in my school days, I know I would have drowned in a sea of name-calling. My self-esteem would have been ripped apart by bullies, like vultures pecking at their prey.
Fortunately, my school days are long gone and my 20s brace journey has been strangely pleasant. Instead of nasty comments from so-called classmates, I have been complimented on my smile. My confidence has increased with every appointment. And I have lived with unsightly teeth long enough to fully appreciate my new smile and follow the professional advice to keep it that way.
For anyone contemplating braces treatment as an adult, my story contains just a few of the many reasons you won’t regret pursuing your thoughts. The process is long, but it was definitely one of the best things I have done for myself.