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Adult braces: What you need to know

I recently removed my braces after 15 months.

I am 36, way older than most who have their teeth corrected in their teens.

So what do you need to know when deciding if you should put on braces as an adult?

Here are the answers to your burning questions.

Clear aligners or braces?

Ask your orthodontist, because it depends on the kind of correction you need. Initially, I wanted clear aligners because they look less obvious and seem less inconvenient. Then my orthodontist told me that my as I needed to do very precise adjustments to my teeth – correct my bite, even and widen my smile – braces was the best option for me. I chose porcelain braces in the end, as they looked a little more natural on my teeth. I was told that clear aligners are best for those with minor adjustments.

Is the whole process painful?

Yes. Especially if you need to remove teeth to fit a straight smile, then that would be the first hurdle you need to get past. Some days, after tightening your braces, you would barely be able to eat more than soup or congee, because your mouth will be so sore. The pain usually lasts anywhere between two weeks to three days. But it becomes more bearable as time goes on. Towards the end of my braces journey, the soreness did not last for more than a day or two.

For me, the worst part was actually having to deal with food stuck in all nooks and crannies after every meal. And you can’t be lazy about brushing, because plaque gets trapped easily when there are so many pockets around the braces. Discolouration and erosion of the tooth enamel is also common amongst those who do not practice oral hygiene and brush around the brackets of the braces properly. So even if you are dog-tired at the end of the day, you still will have to spend at least 15 minutes cleaning every corner of the mouth, carefully. Because the last thing you want is straight, but decayed and discoloured teeth.

Is the prefect smile guaranteed after the braces are removed?

Not necessarily. Especially if you are putting on braces for the first time in adulthood. Because by then, the shape of your teeth could have been worn down by your pattern of biting when they are crooked. So even when your teeth are aligned, your smile may not look completely symmetrical. Tiny gaps between your teeth may also become more obvious, as previously, the teeth overlapped. But these are nothing an experienced orthodontist cannot fix with bonds and fillers. Manage your own expectations though: if your face is not completely symmetrical, you cannot expect your bone structure and teeth to end up completely symmetrical after removing the braces.

All those perfectly straight, large, symmetrical and white teeth you see on social media and the celebrities? Most of them are likely veneers.

Is the perfect smile permanent?

Yes, only if you put in the time and effort in the aftercare. I had permanent wire retainers glued to the back of my teeth, and on top of that, I wear my clear plastic aligners to bed every night. I did not follow-up with the aftercare when I wore braces for the first time in my early 20s, and that is why I had to wear them again in my 30s!

And, is the pain of having your teeth straightened really worth it?

Yes, if like me, you have always felt insecure about your smile. To me, straight teeth is incredibly important for the perfect #selfie :P

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