I got braces for the first time at the age of 23. Before I went to the orthodontist’s office, I did a lot of research about adult braces to see what they’d be like. Many of the stories I found were discouraging, with people claiming that they felt awkward wearing adult braces and that they were painful; of course, this made me super nervous for my initial appointment. Luckily, I didn’t have an unpleasant experience with my braces at all; I actually had a great experience and I’m really glad I got them when I did! With that being said, I’m here to share my experience and give you the real deal about what it’s like to wear braces as an adult!
(This is a collage I made to show the progress of my teeth. The top left corner is how my bottom teeth looked prior to braces. The picture to the right of that, is the day I got my braces on. Bottom left is the day I got my braces off. Last photo is my bottom teeth without any braces.)
For the most part, whenever we think of braces, an image of a little kid comes to mind. You know, the middle-schooler with bright blue braces that has bits of her sandwich stuck between them. Since kids or teens are usually the ones with braces, I did some research on adult braces before heading to the orthodontist. Unfortunately, most of the stories I read were not reassuring, so that certainly didn’t help my nerves! I went into my appointment super nervous, but my orthodontist was amazing and helped me weigh all of my options. I was told that I would have to wear my braces for eight months and, contrary to popular belief, it was not that bad!
Here’s what I learned throughout my eight months with braces.
Invisalign isn’t for everyone. I know it might be the first option to come to mind since, as an adult, you probably don’t want to wear metal braces; however, depending on how much work your teeth need, it’s not always the best choice. My orthodontist told me that because of how my teeth were aligned, Invisalign would not be a good option for me; it would simply push my teeth forward, but not necessarily into place.
Ceramic braces were an awesome choice for me. Ultimately, I decided to go with white ceramic braces (I was already reluctant about wearing braces as an adult, so the last thing I wanted to do was call more attention to my crooked smile by getting bright colors). They were great because they blended in with the natural color of my teeth and, most of the time, no one even noticed I had them on.
IMO, it’s better to get braces as an adult. I cannot tell you how many adults have told me they had braces as a kid but had to get them again (or their teeth are just crooked again) because they didn’t properly take care of their teeth after getting them off (ie. wearing their retainer). When you’re a kid, you don’t care if food stays in your braces all day. You’re not worried about brushing after every meal or flossing at night. You also don’t care that you’re not supposed to have gum or candy and still do it anyway. But as an adult, we’re typically more mindful of those things and are able to take better care of our teeth during and after braces.
Braces are not always painful. I can only speak from my experience (granted I only had braces on my bottom teeth), but I think this is the biggest misconception about braces. 95% of the time, my braces were not painful. My mouth was only sore the day that my orthodontist put the braces on and a little bit after he’d tightened them. Other than that, it was fine. Personally, I think the best way to describe how braces make your mouth feel is tender and a little sore, but not necessarily painful.
Eating can be frustrating when your mouth is sore. When your teeth are shifting, your mouth is very tender. My mom would joke that I could’ve eaten at the baby table because of how long it would take me to finish my food sometimes. In the beginning, I often had to chew on one side of my mouth if the other side was sore. Side note: I was also mindful about my diet. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a candy lover (Skittles, Starbursts, Airheads, etc.) so it was hard for me to take those out of my diet, but I decided that it would be worth it for the perfect smile; I also didn’t chew gum or eat any popcorn or nuts. (Apparently, women really like getting braces because they lose a lot of weight in the process, lol)
Permanent retainers are great. When you hear the word retainer, you probably think of the metal thing you put in your mouth at night; I thought the same thing. I hadn’t even heard of a permanent retainer until my orthodontist suggested it to me (and boy, am I glad he did)! My permanent retainer is amazing. I never have to worry about putting it in because it’s literally always there. It’s a thin metal wire that my orthodontist glued to the back of my bottom teeth (with a special, super strong bonding glue that he sealed with some sort of laser). Apparently, these retainers can stay on for like 17 years before you have to get another one! I was sold! It took about two weeks to get used to the wire on the back of my teeth, but now it feels totally natural and I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that my teeth are going nowhere!
Take it seriously. Braces (particularly ceramic braces and a permanent retainer) are very expensive. When you invest all that money (and time), it’s so important to follow the orthodontist’s instructions and do it the right way (especially, so you don’t have to do it again). It’s important to be mindful of what you eat (so you don’t get stains on your teeth), brush after all your meals and consistently floss. If you simply listen to your orthodontist and are cognizant about taking care of your teeth, you will absolutely get the results you’re looking for.
I can proudly say that my smile is finally (pretty much) perfect. Having to wear braces for eight months was totally worth it after seeing my results! The time flew by and it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I’m extremely happy that I got braces as an adult and not in grade school. I was able to take good care of my teeth during and after the process and I don’t think I would’ve taken the same care as a kid. Overall, I had a pleasant experience with my braces and have no regrets!
If you’re looking into adult braces, you should definitely consult with an orthodontist, but know that I 100% recommend it.
Have you had adult braces? Are you planning on getting braces in the future? Let me know in the comments and feel free to ask any questions!