Chapter W Co-Founder Louisa recently took the plunge and got adult braces, aged 24. This wasn’t an easy decision, and she talks you through the process of becoming a brace face in your twenties…
At 11 years old, my eyesight started to decline. I couldn’t see the board to learn all about algebra, and my sight was strained as I tried to watch Hannah Montana when I got home from school. To my horror, I needed glasses. I remember to this day the nerves of getting them out for the first time in classes, quietly slipping them on my face so no one would notice. For an 11 year old, it was a pretty traumatising experience.
So, you can imagine my face when at 11 years old my mum also asked if I’d like braces. It looked a little something like this.
And due to my stubbornness and tantrums, I didn’t get the braces. If I could go back in time, I would shake little Louisa’s shoulders and tell her to quit her sass and get the lovely metal braces completely free on the NHS. Because it would mean my situation today would be very different…
As I am currently 24 years old, with a face full of brace.
Adult braces are not a new thing. The number of 20+ patients opting to get straight teeth in their older years has risen by over 100% between 2014-2016, with pearly whites being a desired feature. They are no longer deemed as ‘desperately uncool’, and I have yet to be wedgied in the playground…so why did it take me so long to get to this stage?
My teeth have always been a problem for me. I never smile with my teeth, and am loath to laugh with my mouth wide open for fear that people will be acquainted with my ‘tombstone’ teeth, as my mother has described them in the past. My brother also has stated that my teeth really ‘let me down’, so you can tell it’s something that bothers me.
People are often quick to say they never notice, and that they’ve never thought I have bad teeth. But aside from my lovely friends, it never changed the fact that it was all I could see when I looked in the mirror. All I could see in photos of myself. And when it’s something that can be fixed so simply, I’m a big believer that you should go for it.
Except…It’s not as easy as getting braces at 11 years old. The NHS don’t take too kindly to vain 24 year olds who want a better smile for their Instagram (and their self esteem in general but whatever), and don’t fork out the price for them, so you have to fund them yourself. And the price of braces doesn’t come cheap. With clear options and Invisalign coming in at £3k minimum, it can be difficult to find the funds to fix your broken smile.
It is an investment, and one that slightly stings me, but having spoken about it for so long I thought I should just go for it. I have no responsibilities such as a mortgage or children, just a slight Topshop habit, and have currently got no impending duties that require my teeth on show (so can no friends get married before Feb 2018 plz). At 24 years old, I am no longer worrying about being bullied in the playground, or that no boys will fancy me (they didn’t before anyway), I am being completely selfish and doing something entirely for me. And so far, it feels damn good.
Admittedly, I did not go full metal brace face. The vanity inside me spun out of control, and I opted for clear, ceramic braces. This simply means the brackets are transparent, and the wire is coated in a white colour to make it virtually unnoticeable. And whilst the first couple of days felt like I had a HUGE NOTICEABLE asset to my face, a lot of my colleagues didn’t even notice, and kept exclaiming at how good they were are. You can, of course, go for full metal, which is actually cheaper, or alternatively there are things such as Invisalign which are completely clear…except you have to take out EVERY time you eat or drink. I felt it would be safer for me just to have them in 24/7, to ensure I didn’t get lazy and throw them in the bin when I wanted a McDonalds…
The first few days were a little bit uncomfortable, as the teeth were tender and moving all over the shop. Take advantage of the 19p packets of Ibuprofen, and the little tub of wax they give you to stop the wire rubbing you, and after a few days it simmers down. I also have had to learn how to chew in a completely new way, and steer clear of a lot of foods that include the dreaded turmeric which will stain. But a part from that, shockingly, life goes on. And in one year, I will have a glistening white, straight smile to be proud of.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone considering braces in their twenties, thirties, forties… etc is that if you have the means, do it. No body cares about a face full of metal, and in 2017 people are far more concerned with their own lives than the state of your teeth. It is no longer the school bus, and people will generally commend you for taking the leap to fix something you’re unhappy with. All round girl crush Zara Larsson is currently rocking her own braces, so remember if a pop star is doing it, so can you.
I will definitely continue to update you on my braces journey – and remember, you’re never too old for a face full of brace.
Have you had braces in your twenties? Share your journey with us at firstname.lastname@example.org