I have had braces since May 2017 (over one year.. so about halfway through!). As someone who has chosen to become a metal mouth in adulthood, sometimes people have questions.. is it painful? Is it annoying? Is it expensive? Why didn’t you get braces as a kid? Why bother with braces now?
The truth is that during my childhood, my family could not afford braces. And while braces can be pricey, surprisingly I was able to get a good deal in Tokyo.. despite Japan being a country of outrageously overpriced orthodontic treatment! Fortunately the dentistry part, versus orthodontics, is affordable.. in Japan, insurance covers 70% of cleaning costs.
During our search for the best orthodontist, my husband and I also came across some clinics that offered discounted treatment if you blog about your braces, or special price reductions at specific times of the year. So there are ways to make it happen, if you’re willing to look hard enough! (by the way.. this blog is in no way affiliated with any orthodontic practice, as I did not choose to receive treatment through a clinic with a blogging program)
Why bother with braces now? There are many reasons why someone might choose to have braces as an adult. For example, while a crooked smile or overcrowding is not necessarily a bad thing (crowded teeth are considered cute in Japan!), depending on the severity, these can cause poor dental hygiene in later adulthood such as periodontal disease or gum disease, may result in other health problems such as headaches, or cause issues with bite alignment. For example, before I got braces, I often used to bite the side of my mouth, which was painful and annoying.
Since people live longer now than in the recent past, dental health is also valuable, since not taking care of your teeth can mean losing them later. Investing in your smile might also be helpful for certain lines of work. For example, many actors undergo braces. Or, you might just be shy about smiling in public, and prefer a straight smile. My decision to get braces was a combination of several reasons.
Are braces painful? Yes, and no. Are they annoying? Not much. Often people’s biggest curiosity about braces is the level of pain you experience while wearing a mouthful of metal. Friends frequently assume that braces are a hassle.. which in my experience, is not the case! The worst part of getting braces was the preparation. Since my teeth were overcrowded, I had 4 pulled from the front sides. Not only was having teeth pulled as terrible as it sounds, but it meant having big gaps for a few months!
The first few times I had my braces tightened, my teeth would also be sore, which made eating anything remotely hard (including toast) impossible for at least a few days. After each tightening, my teeth would also feel more loose, and sometimes the inside of my lip would be a little sore from the new, sharp wire that had been put in. Over time, the wire would become dull and stop bothering me as much.
Since I opted for clear braces, fortunately I have not experienced a lot of mouth sores. The clear brackets on each tooth do not seem to irritate my mouth much, nor are they very sharp. Although I’m not embarrassed about wearing braces, some adults might also like that in photos, you can’t always make out that you’re wearing clear braces. Since I sometimes perform on stage or screen, the subtlety of clear braces is useful.
To answer the pain question, braces can be somewhat painful/annoying during the first few months.. but after a while, the pain level decreases, and you get more used to caring for your teeth, so it doesn’t seem as bothersome as in the beginning. However, you have to maintain frequent brushing habits, regular dental cleanings, and carry a toothbrush around in case you accidentally get food stuck in the wires while eating out. But, having to brush my teeth so often has helped me to have better dental habits, and my gums are healthier, too.
Having braces as an adult also gave me much greater empathy for my teenage students. When I first began receiving treatment, I was working at a junior and senior high school, and many of my students had braces. My students enjoyed sharing about the discomfort or awkwardness of their new braces, and although a few of my brace-faced girls initially hid their mouths with their hands, they seemed less embarrassed when I modeled that they didn’t have to feel bad about it.
For many adults, the visibility of braces can be embarrassing, but personally I feel that there is no reason to feel silly about it. The first 14 months of treatment have also gone by so quickly, and I like seeing the slow but steady results every month.
Would I recommend getting braces? They’re not as scary as they once were in the past, and the method of treatment has improved a lot. Braces are definitely not for everyone, but if you feel that the pros outweigh the cons, and if it’s something you’re willing to invest in, I would encourage you to discuss your thoughts with an orthodontist!
In my case, I am pleased with the outcome thus far, and it’s been worth any mild inconveniences. And, I’m looking forward to seeing the final results in another year or so! 💕 😁
Do you have a question about braces?
Feel free to leave a comment below!