Tuesday, 11 June 2013

My Brace Experience - 1 Year later

Not the usual fashion/beauty post, but it's something I really want to write about. It's quite a long read, be warned!

On June 6th it was a year since I got my braces put on and strangely enough, I’m quite excited about that. 
When I was first told I needed braces by my dentist, I literally thought it was the end of the world. I was eighteen, due to start university the following September and the thought of doing that with braces seemed like the worst possible thing. Of course, I totally overacted, but for me the thought of braces terrified me, because I assumed it would make me even more self-conscious of my teeth than I already was. 

My first specific memory of my teeth being an ‘issue’  was when I was in year four, so about eight or nine years old, when one of my lovely class mates made a comment about my teeth and told me my front teeth looked like rabbit teeth. My front teeth aren’t actually that big, but due to still having milk teeth on either side, they did look big in comparison. I didn’t bother me all that much that he said that, I have a thick skin and brush comments like that off.

It was then in year seven, that my teeth really started to bother me was when I started senior/secondary school. My milk teeth canines had decided to be extremely stubborn, meaning the adult teeth that were meant to go in their place were unable to and instead grew out of my gums, above my milk teeth. For the next seven years, they were referred to as ‘fangs’, by both me and my friends. Although my close friends were completely used to seeing my teeth the way they were and were not immature enough to ‘take the piss’ out of them/me because of them, there were some people who decided it was necessary to. The most common comment was that I was a vampire, which I could deal with if any of my friends had said, but when it’s from people you barely know, it is offensive. I didn’t and still don’t understand what people gained from commenting, reminding me of and making me feel even more self-conscious of my flaws.  

Of course, I did not need reminding of them, they were up until a few months ago, the bane of my life. I have very few photographs in which you can see my ‘fangs’, because I have never smiled with my teeth showing because of them. The only photos I do have in which you can see them, are photos taken of me off guard and which I detest of myself.

For the several years I had my ‘fangs’, every time I went to the dentist, I would ask them to remove the milk teeth, so that the adult teeth would have a chance of moving down and every time I was told that eventually the milk teeth would fall out. Of course this did not occur, so after about four or five years, the dentist finally gave in and removed my milk teeth. I thought this would sort everything out, but sadly not. Up until this time last year, my ‘fangs’ remained in the same place and I was left with two gaps were the should have been.
I think I only went back to that dentist one more time. I went for a routine check-up and was told my teeth were in good condition, no fillings needed or anything like that; however I wasn’t convinced and asked my parents if I could go to another dentist for a second opinion. I ended up going for a check-up at a private dentist practise, which I had been registered at for a few years when I was much younger. After my first check-up, I was told I needed five fillings, teeth removed and braces.
When I and my parents asked the dentist about me having braces, we were told I couldn’t get them on NHS, as it was for ‘cosmetic reasons only’ and they were only willing to put braces on people who needed them. Obviously, I was pretty upset. After I thought my teeth would have been sorted by having teeth removed and then them not being, braces were like my last hope and I’d been refused them. 

The fillings and such were done quickly, no problem at all; however the issue of braces was just that, an issue. When the dentist first mentioned braces, I actually welled up, as pathetic as that sounds. It was because my immediate thought was that having braces would draw even more attention to my teeth and I couldn’t deal with it, but after thinking it through I realised that it was either two years of braces and the end result being nice teeth, or continue having horrible teeth for the rest of my life. Pretty easy decision really.

Unable to get them on the NHS, it was a case of paying for braces, or not having them at all. Braces basically cost a fortune, so when my parents and I were told just how much they were going to cost, I immediately told my parents to forget it. I couldn’t let them pay that amount, as much as I hated my teeth. After about a month of deliberation, my mother basically told me that she was willing to pay for me to have braces, as she knew how self-conscious I was because of my teeth and me being happy was more important than money.
So on June 6th, 2012 I finally got braces. Getting them put on was fine, but learning to live with them was the tricky part. My gums suffered a lot from cuts because of the brackets, I was unable to bite food for a couple of weeks, I remember cutting up a piece of toast into about sixteen pieces so that I could just place them in my mouth and chew them, however after a few weeks it gets a lot less painful. Even then after quite a few weeks it was still painful, but possible to eat food somewhat normally.

One of the main problems with my teeth was overcrowding. In the last year I have had two teeth removed; both on the left side of my mouth, one upper, and one lower. This was to allow my teeth to fit in my jaw properly and to enable the brace to work and straighten my teeth. As well as having teeth removed, I also had to have a bite plate for about six months, if I remember correctly. The reason for the bite plate was because my bite was wrong. My back teeth had not erupted fully and I had a larger than normal overbite. The bite plate meant I was unable to bite down fully, therefore giving my back teeth a chance to finally grow properly. This meant, once again I was unable to eat properly, as I was unable to chew food. Having the bite plate also gave me a lisp, which was not welcomed at all. The day I got the bite plate, I had gone to the dentist straight from sixth form and as I was walking to get the bus home, I started welling up again, like the over dramatic person I am obviously. It was a case of, I thought braces were bad enough, yet this was another thing to add to it and neither I, nor the dentist was sure how long I would have to wear the bite place to begin with. 

Of course, I started university and was still having to wear it and although my lisp had a got a huge amount better over time, I was still far too self-conscious and embarrassed to wear it as I was having to meet new people. Although I should have worn it constantly, I only wore it while sleeping. Luckily, it still worked and I was able to get rid of it after about six months. I was so relieved it was unreal.
Ever since then, my trips to the dentist (which are a monthly thing and have to be arranged far in advance as I have to come up from Southampton for them) have consisted of the usual things like the wires being changed and brackets being put back on after I’ve broke them off eating skittles or something. Therefore the only problems I have now are that after the wires have been replaced with thicker ones, my teeth ache for two or three days afterwards and it’s painful to bite into food, but I’ve got used to that now and just take a few painkillers.
So up to the present day, one year after I got my braces I am insanely happy with the way my teeth are. I could quite happily have my braces removed now. Although not perfect, my teeth are a million times better compared to before I got braces. I’ve got between six months to a year left with my braces and I can honestly say I do not care anymore. Everyone I know is used to seeing me with braces and don’t notice them, but when they are brought up I just get told how much my teeth have changed and how much better they look and people who I meet don’t seem to notice/care, so I figured, why should I? I am so much more confident now more than even, which I never thought I’d be with braces. I actually smile a hell of a lot more as well. I’m really excited to see my teeth without braces, although I’ve been told wearing a retainer isn’t much fun!

To anyone reading this who is debating getting braces, or knows someone in that position, I cannot urge you enough to get them. Yes, they can be uncomfortable at times, yes, having metal brackets and wires on your teeth may not be the best look and yes, travelling to the dentist and sitting in the waiting room past your appointment time every month is irritating and boring, especially when they don’t get new magazines in often enough, but it is all worth it. Especially if you’re able to get them free on the NHS. I cannot thank my parents enough for being willing to pay for mine. I’m possibly only 50% of the way through my time having braces, but I cannot explain how happy I am with my teeth now and how much happier I will be when they’re off and I have teeth that I feel comfortable enough to smile with. 


  1. I've just discovered your blog and wanted to thank you for writing about your braces so honestly! that sounded weird. it wasn't meant to.
    i had my braces put on (for the second time!) in september because i need jaw surgery and they have to swing my teeth round to the left before they can operate and i absolutely hate them. i'm 18 in a month and absolutely hate this feeling of metal cutting into my bottom lip and feeling like a 13 year old again. seeing your post and the amazing difference made to your teeth has reminded me that though i may be stuck with these now, in about a year and a half or so they'll be off, my surgery will be done and i'll have lovely teeth and jaw.

    thanks for writing so honestly, great post and blog


    katy xxx

    1. This is the nicest comment :)
      That's exactly why I wrote it, to remind people that braces (although they may seem it at the time) aren't the worst thing in the world :) xx