I made an impulse purchase nine months ago. When most people make an impulse purchase, it’s a pack of gum at the check-out counter. My impulse purchase was a full bottom set of metal braces.
And I had to avoid gum.
I don’t know what happened. I took Emma in for a braces consultation. I walked out with a painful jaw and a pack of wax in my hand.
That was nine months ago. I got my braces off. Again.
I’m eating popcorn as I type this.
In response to my braces, I was flooded with questions. I am not alone when it comes to cussing at our teenage selves for not wearing a retainer. I will be the first to tell you everything you wanted to know about adult braces:
Do they hurt?
Yes, they hurt. Even with the new technology (no spacers, no ring around the back molar, and the brackets have tiny doors for the staff to easily switch out the wire) the orthodontist is still moving teeth through your gums. There was only one adjustment that caused enough pain to give me a headache. That being said, the pain wasn’t even close to the pain of childbirth. Or even period cramps.
Um, sorry males.
No, not sorry.
Did you have braces as a teenager?
Yes. I had braces for two years. I had braces, acne, glasses, and I was taller than all the boys. I thought I was too cool for a retainer. And here I am – wearing adult braces. Adult braces that don’t get paid for by my parents. Hilarious, dad.
Could you get Invisalign or clear braces?
No. My bottom teeth were too messed up for Invisalign. Invisalign also costs more than traditional braces. Clear braces are not available for bottom teeth, only top teeth.
I like my braces cheap, fast, and ugly.
What about your top teeth? Why are they so straight?
No idea. My orthodontist didn’t have an answer either.
How long do you have to wear them?
The orthodontist guessed ten months. She got them straight in nine. This all depends on how much you let your teenage self get away with falling asleep without a retainer. This also depends on how fast you can pay off your bill.
Remember how we could pick out colors for braces?
Oh, we can still pick out colors for braces.
Staff: I’ll just put a grey band on for you.
Me: Stop. Are you asking me if I want a color?
Staff: Do you want a color?
Me: Do you want the Royals to win the World Series? I’ll take blue, please.
Ugh, I remember all the flossing. Do you have to get special floss?
Yep, that hasn’t changed. Keeping my teeth clean was even more annoying because I drink massive amounts of coffee and sometimes red wine. Even with the picking and the brushing and the flossing – no one escapes the dental hygienist lecture after a professional cleaning. No one.
Dental hygienist: Just make sure you really angle your brush down inside the gums. You seem to be missing…
Me: Can I box you up and take you home with me?
So no chewing gum, huh?
No gum, no popcorn, no corn on the cob. Rice was hard to eat and so were chips. I couldn’t stuff a giant sandwich in my mouth. All food had to be picked apart with my monkey hands. I survived on soup and protein shakes.
And coffee and wine.
Were you the only adult seen by the orthodontist?
Yes, that I saw. It’s more humorous than humiliating. It’s like the fountain of youth club back there.
Does anyone make comments about your braces?
No, not unless I pointed them out. I think most adults want to hide their braces. I showed everyone because I’m shy. If you’re introverted, like me, this makes perfect sense.
I’m extroverted, what are you talking about?
Small-talk makes me panic. When I panicked with adult braces, my solution was to pull my lower lip down to show my mouth full of metal to Kate’s teacher, the FedEx man, and my fellow braces-wearing grocery store bagger. I didn’t know what else to talk about. I own awkward.
So wait, you have a retainer now?
Hell yes I have a retainer. I have the clear/removable retainer for both the top and bottom teeth. And I will wear these every night until I reach the elite status of dentures.
Ah, you were waiting for this question. I put it at the end so you would keep reading. With my “discount” of being considered “a fix,” it was approximately $900. I could split the payments, which ended up $100 a month for 9 months. I’m sure the price depends on how much work needs to be done. It was the biggest impulse buy I’ve ever made.
Are they worth it?
Yes. I feel like I have a brand new set of Hollywood-grade teeth. I can smile bigger and laugh louder without feeling self-conscious. I am assuming these are the same feelings people get after plastic surgery or losing a lot of weight. It was more for myself than the people that have to look at me every day. From a dental standpoint, it’s much easier to floss straight teeth. And food is less likely to get stuck for no one to tell me about until I see it before bed.
This popcorn tastes delicious.
Any other questions? Would you get adult braces? Would you invest in any part of your body to make you feel better about yourself?