Nearly 17 months ago, I sat at my laptop scouring the internet for a dentist in Devon who offered teeth straightening. It was something I’d wanted to do for many years, I’m talking 10 at least, probably more. I’d mentioned it to my NHS dentist a few times who seemed completely disinterested and offered very little advice. I knew it was vanity, but it was also starting to affect the way I smiled and spoke to people, my dentist at the time convinced me that as my teeth were healthy I shouldn’t start messing around with them.
I wasn’t convinced, I could keep them white and clean no problem, I’d not had a filling since my teens but still, I yearned for the perfect smile, and why not. 2016 was a horrible year, I had very little to smile about, so if there was ever a reason to improve my smile and try recoup some of my battered self-esteem it was then. I tentatively picked up the phone to book an assessment and turned up the next day at a private dentist.
This is where I first got a hint that not all private dentists are the same, as I sat in the chair I felt total pressure to go for the most expensive package they offered after a very quick 15 minute look at my mouth, he talked about removing teeth and the whole experience seemed like a sales pitch. I paid my £100 and knowing I couldn’t afford what he was suggesting. Then by chance, I ended up having a Twitter conversation with the Exeter Dental Centre, and realised that they were more about the patient and less about the big bucks.
The assessment here was completely different, much more thorough and photos were taken for a detailed idea of what was needed. Alex, my dentist, talked through the whole procedure (no teeth were going to be removed!) and was totally honest and transparent. I left there elated that I might at last, get the smile I’d always dreamed of.
Ceramic braces were fitted, just the top at 1st, them months later the bottom ( a more detailed post on my first fitting is here and update on them here ) I’m not going to lie, it can hurt at times, I had regular check ups every 5-6 weeks where the wire was changed along with the bands around each bracket. They would get pretty stained and I had to avoid foods which contained turmeric, red wine, beetroot and strong coffee. You soon learn to read ingredient lists and scour any menu at what you can’t eat.
I also avoided chewy foods such as bread and pizza crusts, sweets and toffee was a big no-no too. I didn’t miss them too much to be fair, and it helped me maintain a much healthier lifestyle as a result. Meals out I would check they didn’t have spinach and I felt very conscious of green food lingering in my braces, it’s where you really learn who your friends are. I made sure I always carried a mirror and toothpicks in my handbag too.
The worst times were when the wires at the back would dig into my cheeks, I’d use wax which my dentist provided, to cover the brackets and wires but they wouldn’t always stick. On those days, and it would only ever be a few, I’d stick to soups, yoghurts and smoothies and did end up losing weight because of it. You also learn to chop or cut up all your food. But the positive side is how quickly you start noticing the changes.
People would tell me they hadn’t noticed I was wearing braces until I mentioned it, and I very quickly became used to them, and the last few day before they were due to come off, I started to feel sad at the fact they were going! It’s been 24 hours now and I still haven’t registered that I no longer have to brush my teeth a certain way or put my elastics in.
I’ve had fixed retainers fitted to the backs of my teeth to keep them in place and will be going back next week for a removable retainer which I will have to wear every night for 6 months and a few times a week after that. I guess that saying no pain no gain really applies here, but OMG have I gained!
I haven’t stopped grinning like a Cheshire cat, getting ceramic braces have hands down been the right decision and to say I’m pleased with the result is an understatement! No more covering my mouth when I speak, smiling in photos which my mouth shut and feeling self-conscious when I meet someone with perfectly straight teeth.
(Here’s the full journey, which is now complete!)