I throw this saying around too much but these three little words help me through the wobbles I so frequently have about every aspect of my existence. Life unfortunately now is swamped by comparison thanks to the wide wonder that is social media. That old thing, I harp on about. When I had my initial orthodontist appointments I went home and searched out anyone sharing #adultbraces or #fastbraces. Strength in numbers, I guess. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one in my late 20s making such a decision. I knew the year wasn’t going to be easy. Whilst I put on quite a display of being self-confident and self-assured it couldn’t be further from the truth and it really took some sleepless nights and some future pep talks to make me feel like this was going to be ok.
The only negative part of this whole ‘journey’ (and I cannot believe I have just used that word), is the comparison. It really gets to me. Which is ridiculous because of all the things to compare teeth should not be one. Like life, my teeth were so different to the other girls I follow who also had braces fitted. We all started at relatively the same time but there are so many factors which influence how your treatment goes which means comparison shouldn’t even cross my mind. Over the last couple of months, there have been some highs and lows. Whilst the majority of my teeth are in the correct place now my two front teeth just didn’t want to cooperate. Being the main two visual teeth we agreed it was important they were perfect.
Whilst I was having early, hunger filled nights due to the pain of the wires putting my teeth back in place I noticed one of the accounts I follow had their braces removed which looked absolutely fantastic. Others had their retainers (did I ever think I could be jealous of this, err no?) and another was always updating social media on how the end was in sight. If I mentioned anything about toothache the usual response would always be “how long have you got left?” one question I have hated the whole time. It has always made me feel as though people are racing to get them off my teeth faster than I am myself when I know it’s not the case. Especially watching the undatables with my Mum and her perfect timing when she asked out of the blue when my braces were coming off. Of course, I know what she was thinking.
My braces were always something I was doing for myself, for my confidence. I always met people who doubted me when I said I wanted them, couldn’t really understand why I would consider going through with them. People who would always ask if I had considered Invisalign as if that wouldn’t have crossed my mind. There were so many people who said to me they wished they were brave enough to go through with them, as though I was going to tackle a marathon. It was this I needed to remind myself. I didn’t start this so I could have nice teeth before this person or this person. I didn’t even have my braces fitted to have nicer teeth than a Hollywood star. I had them to help me, to make me feel better. So this comparison all of a sudden felt ridiculous. If mine take a few months longer than others than that is fine, really what are months in the grand scheme of things?
Everyone’s braces/ orthodontic treatment is different. Everyone has reasons why they chose the option they went with. Reasons such as;
Finances: Probably one of the largest influences on how your brace experience goes is your budget. Going private as the majority of us have to do it is not cheap. I didn’t really have a budget for my braces. It was something I needed to do for myself so I was going on what I felt reasonable. I received quotes from three different orthodontists which only differed very slightly in price but I know to many people the price and what they are getting is what will sway them. So don’t try to compare your orthodontic journey with someone who has 10x the budget, it will be very different and that is ok.
Appearance: For me, it was always the end result I wanted and the in-between process did not bother me too much unless we are talking Hillbilly tooth gate and even that I managed to laugh off. I hated my teeth but for the fundamental reason that they were so uncomfortable in my mouth. I didn’t do it for vanity purposes I personally didn’t think they looked too horrendous but they were so uncomfortable to me not sitting straight and I think the strain against the orthodontic treatment I had as a teenager as they moved back slowly they were always causing discomfort. This meant I wasn’t too concerned with what I would look like with braces. This is why I opted for the metal train tracks on the front of my teeth. Of course had my teeth not been so bad I would have gone for something like Invisalign but they were never going to work for me. Since having my braces fitted I have noticed a wrath of reality ‘celebrities’ with Invisalign and many with Lingual braces which are similar to what I have but behind the teeth. Again budget helps with what you can get, I didn’t have access to Lingual, nor the budget. Would I have got them had I been able to afford them? Who knows, I am not sure I love the concept and for me, treatment time was more important with how they look which is why I didn’t go for clear ceramic.
Time: Time is another huge factor as to why you should not compare what you are doing to others. For me I had no time frame, if I could have them off within a year I was happy but again I didn’t want to rush the treatment for a date. I know many of us choose to have braces fitted to have a nicer smiler for weddings etc so time can be one of the determining factors of the treatment and options you choose. Just remember if yours are taking longer than others, it may be due to their deadline. Some even have them taken off before they are fully finished because of this date. I think the time is the one thing I would avoid setting yourself. Have a chat with your orthodontist and be frank, tell them what you are hoping for and ask their opinions. I found it useful to speak to Lana about this, she said at Christmas she didn’t think they would be off until the New Year and I was fine with that. Knowing where you both are in the treatment will keep you from building up false hope or becoming frustrated.
Treatment: This fits with the appearance as well, but don’t try and compare your treatment with someone who has taken a different option, or even someone who has the same braces fitted. Remember you didn’t start with the same teeth. Everyone will be different and focusing on how you want yours to look at the end will keep you a lot more positive about the process.
Location: In cities, you are naturally going to have more choice, I don’t know if this is a positive or not. I know for me it took me many trips across the Midlands before I found Jones Dental and knew they were the one. If you are in London or other larger cities there are going to be more options for you and therefore possibly more options on the treatment you can choose which can influence the others above.
I know this is less cheerful than my usual brace posts. For anyone who has come along looking for some reassurance and this is the first post you have read, go back to the beginning because you are about to start the best thing you could do for yourself, yes it is not easy, you will have days of doubts, but I promise it will be worth it. You do You and you will be fine. There is nothing more beautiful than someone smiling. And like they say a day without a smile is a day wasted.