What is it like having braces?

embarrassed by teeth
embarrassed by teeth | Source

Preventive Dental Care

I had my braces 40 years ago and although cosmetic dentistry and the equipment may have changed, the personal experience is still the same. If you are thinking about getting them, but unsure how you are going to feel wearing them, I want to shed some light on this.

Your dentist may advise you that you will need braces if there is going to be a problem with your bite or the structure of you jaw. These are just two of the reasons to see your dentist on a regular basis. They can prevent future problems.

Orthodontics isn't just about having a Hollywood smile, it is about providing the best possible care for your teeth and ensuring that with continued proper nutrition and visits to your dentist, your teeth will last you a lifetime.

Dental tools
Dental tools | Source

Visiting The Dentist

I had never considered the idea of braces until one day at the dentist. I was there for a simple 6 month check up. I was probably 11 years old if my ageing memory serves me correctly. The dentist only lightly suggested this to my mother. Of course then the seed had been planted in my brain and was beginning to germinate at a rapid rate. Our family's finances were tight as my father had only recently died, and my mother was left to raise three girls alone.

My incisors were turned ever so slightly and according to my dentist my front teeth leaned in. I must say, having looked at my face for 11 years I had never noticed this but after that appointment, I now felt, deformed.

How to get perfect teeth

Anyone who has had children knows they are masters of manipulation. Now every waking moment I planned how I was going to get my braces. I complained that I could feel my incisors burrowing into my nasal cavities. I was in excruciating pain or so my mother was told. The truth was I felt no different than I had before my dental appointment.

Every program I watched on television, everyone seemed to have perfect teeth. I appeared to be the only person on the planet with crooked teeth. What did I do to deserve this, I thought. Whenever I spoke to anyone in my family I purposely kept my lips pulled over my teeth to avoid the shame of uneven teeth. Eventually, Mother agreed and made an appointment at the orthodontist.

Cleaning Braces

Our first appointment was to explain the procedure and the cost involved. Being a selfish 11 year old, I ignored the cost and just listened to the part that affected me. I was shown models of teeth, that were taken from impressions of other patients, before and after models. I was also shown a book of photographs of teeth with braces.

The one photo that caught my eye, was someone who didn't brush their teeth correctly whilst wearing braces. When the braces were removed, they had a white stripe in the center of yellow teeth. I was now horrified! Had Mother already given them the money? I would prefer my deformed teeth to striped teeth. Panic began to set in.

I was assured, if I cleaned my teeth thoroughly, this wouldn't occur. They also suggested a Water Pik to clean where I couldn't reach with a brush.

Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser, WP-660
Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser, WP-660

This is the updated version of the Water Pik I used and was recommended by my orthodontist. It shot water in those hard to reach places making cleaning my braces much easier.

 
Dental impressions
Dental impressions | Source

Dental impressions

An impression of my teeth had to be taken. They filled a tray with goo (not the technical name), and put it in my mouth telling me to bite down. The same was done for the lower teeth. There was no turning back now. This was going to be the model I would see at the end of my treatment comparing it with the end result.

The metal bands were placed on my teeth by the orthodontist. This was very different than my dentist appointments. Not only were more people working in this office , there were several rows of dental chairs all facing the landscaped garden. They provided sterilised toothbrushes and Crest toothpaste that we were expected to use before we saw the orthodontist. I was always asked, "Do you need to brush?" This office treated me with respect whereas at the dentist, I was just another kid.

Getting braces on teeth
Getting braces on teeth | Source

Children and braces

Now it seems many people have braces or some other form of dental apparatus to keep the teeth straight. Although there were a few kids in my school, there weren't many wearing braces. I felt embarrassed. I worried people would call me 'metal mouth' 'rail-road tracks' and other horrible names.

In 6th grade, I remember my teacher commenting that I wasn't smiling any more. I kept my lip down over my teeth. After his talk, I found it easier to be myself and tried to speak normally without having my lip covering my teeth.

When you are a kid, time seems to take forever. I think my braces were on for about a year, but it seemed like an eternity.

The pain of braces

To straighten the teeth, the wire that runs through the bands and braces has to be tighten slightly to move the teeth toward their new position. After every appointment, I was in pain. My mouth ached and I got head aches. This I was told was normal. What could I say, I wanted sympathy from people but getting braces had been my idea. Family finances had been stretched to accommodate my whim so I had better not expect sympathy from them.

In the end, I stopped whining and my family accepted the fact that it was causing me pain and to give me space when I had been to the orthodontist.

Removing the braces

One day, Mother dropped me off and told me to walk up and meet her after my appointment. It was only a few blocks and the weather was nice. I said, "bye" and went in for my appointment as usual.

Well today was the big day! The day they were going to remove the top brace. I had no idea I was so close. The bottom brace had to remain awhile longer though. It was then that I realized they must have used cement to put them on. As they were trying to remove them, it felt like they were knocking my teeth out. Finally the bulbous lump around my teeth which I had grown accustomed to was gone. I ran my tongue back and forth over my new teeth. I was past a mirror and told to, "have a look". Wow, I had the teeth of a movie star! They were beautiful. They were so white, no hint of a stripe. Where my lip had been permanently pulled down over my braces for what seemed like a lifetime was now stuck to my gums to show off my teeth to anyone who might be looking in my direction.

Beautiful smile
Beautiful smile | Source

My new teeth

I made my next appointment and said good-bye to the ladies at the desk. They must love this moment when their customers are so happy.

I went out into the sunny morning a different person. There was a skip in my step and at every parked car I stopped to smile at my reflection in the window. Now thinking back, I wonder if any of those cars had people sitting in them wondering why this obviously insane bouncing youth was smiling at all the cars.

I arrived at my mom's office and went up to her and said "Hi" smiling as wide as my mouth could expand. She screamed with delight and showed me to the other staff, who already knew me but felt it was expected to comment on my new smile.

Compliments on straight teeth

Over the years, I have been complimented on my teeth many times. In California, where I am from, there are more people with straight teeth than there are road signs. However when I moved to England it was a different story. 25 years ago Britain was full of people with dental issues. Amazing really when you think they have free dental care up to the age of 16.

Once when I was in the hospital having given birth, someone came to visit the lady and baby in the bed next to me. The visitor didn't ooo and ahh over their new baby. She turned to me and said, "you have such beautiful teeth". An unexpected compliment from a stranger, is always a nice surprise.

Of course I don't know what type of person I would have been if I hadn't had braces, perhaps exactly the same. However, feeling comfortable enough with my smile encourages me to smile which in turns encourages others to do the same. I feel I have a positive outlook on life and I think that started when the braces came off. Phyllis Diller once said, "A smile is a curve that sets things straight." This is so true.

So forty years have passed and I still have all my teeth with the exception of my wisdom teeth. I am still diligent about flossing and brushing and any time I attempt to open a packet with my teeth I hear Mom saying, "Don't use your teeth for that, do you know how much they cost me!"

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Comments 10 comments

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

Never had braces. Oral health is not given much importance here in the Philippines like in other countries. Companies rarely have a special programs for dental health for their employees. It's usually packaged with other health benefits. Moreover, it's just half-heartedly cleaning the teeth.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 3 years ago from Brazil Author

Hi jpcmc,

Thanks for the comment. Here in Brazil, there seems to be a big change. More and more adults and children I see have braces. Their teeth are brilliantly white but, and this is a big but, because the economy is growing so fast and people now have extra buying power, Coke is everywhere. Not only is it bad for the waistline, it is horrible for their teeth. Time will tell.

Thanks for stopping by.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

It pays to have cash for better oral health. :) But, we do what we can to keep our teeth healthy. Braces are still expensive. The common person here still can't afford them.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 3 years ago from Brazil Author

Hi Jpmc,

You are correct, oral health can be expensive. Early prevention of problems is the best and cheapest option.

Thanks for your thoughts.


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

Braces were a painful experience for me, but (mostly) worth it. I got mine at age 9 and I think that was maybe a bit too early, as my teeth shifted afterwards. I did wear a retainer for a while, but eventually outgrew that. Good hub!


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 3 years ago from Brazil Author

Hi Crystal,

Gosh, 9 years old does seem early. This is an interesting point you've made, I don't think many people realize that teeth continue to move. I still have my retainer, I wear it occasionally when my I feel I need to but not very often now.

Thanks for the comment.


NornsMercy profile image

NornsMercy 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

I refused braces as a kid but now I really regret it. Now I can't wait to get them! Voted up ++


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 3 years ago from Brazil Author

Hello NornsMercy,

This is something I didn't touch on in the hub, braces for adults. As I said, I was young when I had them but once they were off, I have never regretted having them and would wholeheartedly suggest them to everyone.

Something I see a lot here in Brazil are adults with braces. I live in an area where they are only just getting disposal income. Braces are high on everyone's list. Thanks for the vote and the comment. Good luck with your braces.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Hi Blond Logic, this is great especially if one needs braces as badly as I did. My parents could not afford to have me get braces and I got them after I got divorced from my first husband and I can totally relate to the day you got yours off.

Voted up ++++ and shared.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 2 years ago from Brazil Author

Hi Shyron,

Being proud of your smile is a big confidence builder.

Thanks for reading and sharing and the vote.

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