Yesterday, I went through the process of getting braces fitted.
I have a list of things as long as my arm of what I dislike about myself but right at the top is my teeth. I’m not going to say they stop me smiling because they don’t. However, they do make me feel incredibly self-conscious when I’m smiling and I cringe when I see them in pictures.
My teeth and I have never been friends.
When I was younger, I had to have most of my baby teeth removed. I don’t remember the details of it, apart from having to live on spaghetti hoops following the procedure. I’m going to assume my laziness and reluctance to look after my teeth caused all sorts of issues which left my dentist with no option but to refer me to have them taken out.
My adult teeth decided they weren’t going to play ball, either, so they grew in in a messy way. They are fighting for space where there isn’t any. So, I am not too keen on these ones, either. Well, actually, “not too keen” is a very gentle way of putting it. I despise them.
As a teenager, I had one visit to an orthodontist, who I vaguely recall being rude and unpleasant. Then again, I was maybe overly sensitive. I’ve noticed there’s a pattern in my life: I will fixate on one negative comment for a very long time. So, when this orthodontist told me my teeth were in a terrible state, I decided all orthodontists and dentists were nasty and vowed not to return. What an idiot.
I stuck to that for years. Eventually, I grew up and matured enough to realise I was being unreasonable. I finally faced the dentist, had several teeth removed and many fillings put in. I asked my dentist at the time about getting braces. Her response was “there are long waiting lists, and I don’t know how much it will cost you.” The fact she couldn’t provide me with an estimate caused me to conclude that I probably couldn’t afford it, so I tried my best to accept the fact I was going to hate my teeth forever. I suppose, at least, by this point, they were being checked regularly and were somewhat healthier.
Let’s fast forward to around six months ago when I decided I was getting braces.
I asked my new dentist in Aberdeen about getting braces, and she referred me to their in-house orthodontist. So, I went for my appointment, full of hope that this was going to be it. I would finally sort my teeth out and let go of hating my smile.
The price quoted was over £4000. I knew braces were expensive but, unless I had a lottery win, there was no way I could pull that money out of the air. Out of disappointment and frustration, I went home and cried. A lot.
Rather than give up, I decided to get a second opinion.
My boyfriend suggested I should try another clinic. I was reluctant because I hate making phone calls and going to appointments and I didn’t want to do it all again. Then, when I stopped to consider the alternative – many more years of misery about my teeth – I decided it was probably worth a try.
I booked an appointment at another clinic. Within the first five minutes of my consultation, I felt at ease. If I was going to get braces, this was where I should get them done. The orthodontist was friendly, and asked all the right questions to get to know me and what I wanted to achieve. Then we got to the pricing, and I readied myself for another shock. I did get one, but it was a good one. They wanted half the price. It’s still a lot of money, don’t get me wrong, but the deposit was manageable, as were the monthly repayments.
There and then, I had all of the preparation work done. I stood awkwardly and had pictures taken. An x-ray was done. They made a mould of my teeth out of putty which tasted like strawberries. I was shown all of this and, faced with the horrible truth of the state my teeth were in, used all my strength not to sob in the consultation room. I didn’t let it stop me, though. That was, after all, why I was there.
My journey was beginning.
A couple of months later, I had elastics fitted at my first proper appointment. These were in place to make space for the braces. They were a little uncomfortable, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I spent a week with them in and skipped to my next appointment, ready for them to come out.
No such luck. They replaced them with another set. It’s like having something in your teeth constantly. Every time I caught them with my tongue, I would consider taking them out myself. I knew it probably wouldn’t be the best idea.
Getting braces on was an interesting experience.
Prior to my appointment, I was very emotional. This was partly because I was anxious about the procedure, but also because it was a huge deal. I had been waiting for around 11 years to take action to sort my teeth, and the day was finally here! I had done some research online, so I had some idea what to expect. The last thing I wanted was a nasty surprise.
When I entered the room, my orthodontist explained what would happen from start to finish. I then lay back, had a tool placed in my mouth to keep my lips out of the way, and it began. It started with a cleaning process, which was very straight-forward.
In my case, it wasn’t as simple as the braces alone. I had to have another instrument inserted to anchor two of my teeth so they didn’t move. As one of my teeth sits high up in my gums, this needs a chance to move down first. So, this was the first step.
Then, the glue and brackets were applied before the wire was threaded through. Due to my overbite, props were put in as well. These are tools to stop me biting down on my brace. Of everything, this feels the strangest. When I bite down, it doesn’t feel natural. I am sure I will adapt to this, though, and they may not be necessary for the entire duration of my treatment. The finishing touch was my purple elastics. I opted for purple because I thought I may as well have fun with it!
Getting braces was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. There was actually very little pain or discomfort. As soon as the process had finished, I felt different. I think this is because I’m finally done something about an issue which has bothered me for so long. Now, if people are looking at my teeth, I can assume it’s my braces, rather than the mess they are in.
I have to wear them for around 18 months. There are lots of changes I need to make during that time. What I eat and drink needs to be different. I’m no longer allowed to bite my nails. Plus, I have to be extra vigilant with my oral hygiene. Still, I’m feeling confident it will be worth it. I already can’t wait to see the end result!