Smile! Why I decided to get braces as an adult.

So, I have a confession to share.

I did something the week before last that I have been thinking about doing for a really long time.

I got braces.

And no, I’m not talking about the menswear-inspired kind that you might wear when you’re obsessing over Dianne Keaton in Annie Hall ( C’mon we’ve all been there ;).  I mean, actual 15-months-in-my-mouth, can’t-kiss-properly BRACES.

Oh my f*cking God. What am I thinking?!?!? I am not 16 anymore. I’ve definitely had moments of panic (ala the opening line of this sentence) since it happened. But – ONE DEEP BREATH – aaaand, I’m good again.

To be completely honest, I’m actually really excited.

After years of trying to hide my smile, by the second half of next year I’m finally going to be happy with my teeth.

The back-story.

This isn’t my first time in braces: I spent a decent part of my teenage years wearing them. Maybe it was because I had to split my treatment across two different orthodontists (one of the perils of divorced parents) but the results didn’t last, and over the years my teeth moved back out of alignment.

I have an overbite. Big teeth. Small jaw. And one of my lower teeth has slipped behind the others.

About seven years ago, I made my first decision to do something about it. I saw an orthodontist, had x-rays and molds of my teeth made – but at about the same time, we decided to move back to Sydney and my plans were put on hold.

In Sydney I saw a new orthodontist, who wanted to take a surgical route. And break my jaw ( !! ). I remember calling my mum after the appointment in a blur of hysterical laughter and tears because I was so horrified at the suggestion. While I know this treatment, known as Orthognathic surgery, must help a lot of people in extreme cases, and, although I really don’t la-la-love my overbite I wasn’t willing to consider it, and the associated risks, seriously.

So, I said no. And, before I knew it, six more years had passed.

The cost.

It took me so long to relook at the situation for two reasons. The first, I put down to being completely distracted by my role as a mother (most days there’s barely time to brush my teeth let alone worry about how they look). And the second? Definitely the expense.

Any corrective work is expensive. If I had all of the money in the world, I’d probably fix other things about myself too. Maybe the things we worry the most about are the flaws that no-one else notices – at least I hope so! – but we all have things that our eyes are drawn to when we look in the mirror or see pictures of ourselves. Imperfections that we learn to live with but deep down don’t love. I know I’m not the only one, right?!

Mostly, I choose to embrace a life that’s about being more than my imperfections. I want to be a good human and citizen of the world, a good mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. These are the things that matter the most to me.

But I also know that we only get to live this life once.

And, there’s a cost to lost opportunity too. If something is making us unhappy, and it’s possible to fix, maybe it’s worth doing. For me that meant adult braces.

So I finally did it. I went back to the same orthodontist I originally saw in 2009 – much to their surprise! – and started the process all over again. My bite will never be perfect because there will be no jaw breakin’ for me but my teeth will get straightened, and then a permanent retaining bar will be fitted so they can never fall out of alignment again.

(For anyone who wants to know the finer details: Its costing me just under $8,000 in total and I am able to pay it off over two years with a payment plan.)

And now they’re on!

The good news is… orthodontic methods have improved greatly since I was a kid! I was able to have clear brackets fitted on my top teeth which I LOVE. The bottom braces had to be metallic so I opted for a pale gold colour and luckily you don’t see them as much as my top ones.

They were pretty uncomfortable for the first few days, mainly from rubbing on the inside of my cheeks and not being able to put any pressure on my teeth. But both of those problems are sorting themselves out now. I’d be lying if I said they’re not in the way but there’s something almost comforting about them. Hahaha. Kind of like my teeth are getting a constant firm hug!

I’m looking on the bright side ;)

This isn’t going to be one of those posts where you get to see graphic images of my ‘before’ teeth. I’ll spare you (and me!) of that. But you can see a glimpse of my cheesy grin the day my braces were fitted in the main photo of this post. And, I promise to keep you updated you.

If anyone has any questions, fire away in the comments below and I’ll answer if I can!

Love, Amber. x