Read how one patient regrets not going ahead with orthodontic treatment as a teenager. She realises the benefits she had missed out on earlier when she has treatment in her twenties!
When I was a teenager braces seemed like something that only people with teeth like Dracula needed to wear. They seemed ugly and uncomfortable, not to mention the time it would take for my teeth to move. Everyone else was having them, so ironically I was the odd one out, but I still didn’t see the point. Then when I turned 21, I looked in the mirror one day and realised I’d made a big mistake
I’m sure that the media portraying braces as an embarrassing and undesirable part of teenage life affected my view on them. To top this off I believed that having braces meant you lived in a constant state of discomfort and pain. All in all, in the past braces were seen as a hindrance to leading a normal teenage life.
Today that perception is completely archaic. Braces are becoming increasingly common, especially for teenagers. They are more subtle, less prohibitive and widely accepted – in fact, in Thailand it’s fashionable to wear braces, whether you need them or not! A lot of celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Estelle have worn braces, and Cindy Crawford even wore them in a Pepsi ad once. This is a long cry from the Ugly Betty image most people associate with braces.
Fortunately attitudes have changed towards having braces, and now it is those teenagers who haven’t had orthodontic treatment that appear to be in the minority. Today people are more open to making the most of their appearance, with ‘Look good, Feel good’ being an increasingly common mantra. Possibly one of the most important parts of looking and feeling good is having an attractive smile, after all your smile says a lot about you - a happy and healthy smile exudes confidence and self-esteem.
The idea of having orthodontic treatment as a teenager can still be daunting; it probably feels like you have enough going on in your life without adding braces to the mix, but it's definitely worth it. Firstly, you don’t need to worry about being the only one with braces, as you will find that the majority of your friends will also undergo orthodontic treatment at some point. Secondly, advances in technology have also meant that they can almost be invisible, and the average treatment time is only between 18 months and 2 years - this is a small price to pay for a lifetime of gorgeous smiles!
The reasons for having treatment while still a teen include that it is the optimal age for achieving excellent results, which saves your teeth from worsening as you get older. Possible consequences of postponing treatment could be having braces as an adult or maybe even corrective surgery. Also the sooner you have braces, the sooner you can reap the benefits of an attractive smile, which will make you feel better about the way you look, as well as increasing your confidence. However, orthodontic treatment is not just about a great smile, it has health benefits too, one of which is preventing the problems which are caused by crooked teeth such as bad breath, tooth decay and gum problems. All of these can contribute to losing your teeth at an early age.
At times you may feel like your parents are forcing you to have braces, or they keep giving you grief about taking care of them. When this happens remember that your braces are for your benefit, therefore it is important that you do your best to look after them. The most important thing to remember is that braces won’t ruin your life; in fact eventually they will make it 10 times better. So don’t make the mistake I did and put off having them, once they’re on you will wonder what all the fuss was about!
Specialist orthodontists will now answer some frequently asked questions:
It would be unusual to be laughed at or get bullied for wearing braces, because most people today are aware of what they are and what their purpose is. It is also important to remember that braces are a medical treatment and laughing at someone with braces is comparable to laughing at someone who has broken their leg and is wearing crutches. If you are being bullied, then make sure that you inform a parent or responsible adult.
No! It will make no difference in this area of your life whatsoever. Having braces actually shows that you care about your appearance and people usually find this to be an attractive quality. Braces are so common nowadays that you may find your girlfriend or boyfriend also wears braces.
Yes and contrary to the urban myth they don’t lock together!
Yes. If you were a diabetic, you wouldn’t eat sweets because they could have an adverse effect on your health. For the same reasons as a brace-wearer you will have to ensure you avoid foods that can damage your teeth or braces. It is important to note that if you suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, you will not able to have braces until your doctor has helped you overcome these conditions.
It will require a concerted effort to brush your teeth properly after every meal, as you will need to make sure you follow your orthodontist’s advice to the letter. Doing this is in your own best interests as it prevents food getting stuck in your braces and also means that when your brace is removed your teeth are not horribly stained.