by Frank from Sydney, Australia
I first found out that I had a problem with my teeth when I was about 19 or 20 years old. At that age I was in 2nd or 3rd year of university and when the orthodontist told me that I had to have four teeth pulled out and braces on for at least 2 years, I kindly asked him to show me the door. Even though my teeth looked okay from first glance, the main problem that I had was that one of my adult canine tooth never erupted, and I still had the baby tooth there. Now, this poses several problems, but I didn’t care. There was just no way I was doing that to myself. I’m a reasonably popular guy, with a healthy self esteem, but there was absolutely no way that I could go through the social disadvantage of braces. I decided to turn a blind eye and hope that the problem would go away.
After a few more years of maturing (I’m now 26) and being constantly reminded by my dentist, I finally decided to take the plunge and see the orthodontist again. A lot of the courage (and it does take a lot of courage) came from the fact that I was in a great relationship and I was living with my girlfriend who wouldn’t judge me for looking like a geek, and the geeky look of the braces was what I was most concerned about. I didn’t really care about the pain or the inconvenience. So, now that I’ve summonsed my courage I just needed to find the right orthodontist (because I wasn’t happy with the tooth-pulling and 24month timeframe that I mentioned earlier). I ended up finding an orthodontist who has a reputation for not pulling out teeth, and fortunately for me his office was also only 100m from my place of work.
This new orthodontist suggested a radically different plan to the other guys that I had seen. He said that he could retain all of my teeth (except for the baby tooth of course) and that he could drastically reduce the time that I would be in braces by using some micro-implants. Sounded great to me. Then he explained the sequence of events…
First I would go to a periodontic surgeon who would pull out my baby tooth and then drill a huge gaping hole inside my mouth to expose the adult tooth. Then the idea was to slowly pull the tooth downwards with a rubber band that attached onto my tooth down to 2 microimplants that were screwed into my lower jaw. Sounds pretty terrible, but it meant that I could reduce the time that I had to wear braces by several months, so I decided to go for it. I still had to get braces later on down the track to make space for the new adult tooth, and to make a few other minor corrections to my bite and my smile. He told me that I’d have the braces for about 12 months, give or take.
After about 4 months with the rubber band, the tooth had moved about halfway into position and it was time to get the braces. I was freaking out about the braces, but I remind you that I was in a very healthy relationship and I got a lot of strength from it. Well, as if the gods were playing some cruel joke on me, I broke up with my girlfriend, had to move out of my house and find somewhere else to live and to top it off, this happened about 10 days before I had to get my braces. Now, I challenge anyone to top that for a worse possible timing of a break-up! So, now I was really, really worried about the braces. How could I possibly be single and have the nickname Metal Mouth? I seriously thought about quitting the program, cutting my losses and running for the hills. But then I dug deep and realised that I was strong enough to go through with it, and the rewards at the end would be worth the embarrassment to begin with. I’ve come this far so it would be silly to cop out at the last minute… I also would have wasted a helluva lot of money.
Okay, so I did go through with it. I left the surgery without looking in a mirror and I felt like more self conscious than I ever had in my life. My ego was absolutely shattered. I could hardly even talk to the reception ladies because I thought I might break down in front of them. And I’m a pretty unemotional guy, these feelings were very abnormal. On the way back to work I walked past a guy in a wheelchair and I actually thought “gee, I wish I could trade places with you… I’d rather have my leg amputated than have these bloody braces!”. Afterwards I realised just how ridiculous that was and I felt ashamed of my vanity. But anyway, you can get the point of how difficult this was for me to do, but I still did it, and so far I have not regretted it.
I haven’t had any pain with the braces. I haven’t even taken a single painkiller. My first dinner after getting the braces was Thai, my second dinner was a steak. I don’t know why my teeth haven’t hurt because many of my friends had warned me how painful it would be (and so have plenty of people on this website). I think it might have something to do with the Damon braces. I would recommend anyone shell out the extra cash because they have been fairly pleasant for me so far, and I’ve had them for about 2 weeks already.
Oh, and I can also say that being single with braces has so far been really great. I’m not sure what it is, but girls seem to be attracted to them for some reason. I was really worried that I’d come across as a pimple-faced teenager, but in fact I am now much more confident that I was without the braces, and it’s a great conversation starter. It also makes you realise that your looks aren’t the most important thing, so you can concentrate on all the other things that make you who you are… and those are the things that any decent girl is going to be attracted to anyway.
So I guess my advice to anyone taking the plunge is this: find an orthodontist who wants you to keep your teeth, save the extra money for the Damon braces and be confident. It’s really not that bad.