5 great things about having braces as a 20-something
Having adult braces might seem like a total bummer. All the glory of a Terminator mouth wrapped up in a 20-something year old body? Yeah. Not fun. They’re also expensive and sometimes make you feel like you’ve been sent directly back to middle school, do not pass go. But even with the headaches, there are some real perks of having a mouth full of metal I’ve learned in the last three months living with them.
It’s a great way to strike up a conversation
Before I got braces, strangers didn’t necessarily come up to me to strike up a conversation. I don’t have the best handle on smalltalk: Usually I blurt out “yes” when people ask “How are you?” then finish the rest of the elevator ride in silence.
But with braces, there’s an easy topic. A lot of the time when I’m in the ladies’ bathroom trying to do a quick clean of my teeth or flashing a smile when I grab coffee, people will have a question about the braces, like “Do they hurt?” or “Are they removable?” or “How much do adult braces cost?” and so forth usually come at you in rapid succession, and for once, Il have actual conversational answers.
It’s a really good reminder to take care of yourself
Teeth aren’t exactly like a new outfit or a new phone, but the same principle applies. When you first get a new skirt you make sure that nothing happens to it: You keep it hung up or folded and clean out the spots and make sure it’s just right. But as it gets older and raggedy—maybe there’s a stubborn wine stain or a raggedy hem—you don’t bother to take care of it quite as much. (At least, I don’t) Because, hey, it’s already a little bit dingy.
For the longest time, this was my subconscious mentality on my teeth: they’re a little crooked anyway, so why bother. With the braces in, however, they now felt worth the effort to remember to floss and brush religiously, and take care of myself. The more work I put into taking care of them, the better they looked, and the more motivated I was to keep up my routine.
You actually have more structure to your day
When you have these contraptions secured to your mouth, taking care of your teeth becomes one of the most important things in your life. You need to form a routine and commit to it, if for no other reason than to avoid unsightly white spots and decay in your adult braces before and after pictures. The result? Structure.
As someone who has never even committed to a uniform bed time, this is big. Along with timed eating schedules, your day begins to have an actual shape as you’re motivated to time things around your dental duties. Other productive habits can be tied to your teeth schedule to make sure they get done, like my daily yoga time that comes right after flossing for the night now.
You start thinking more about what you eat
Like many card-carrying 20-somethings with no parental supervision, my daily diet could only be described as, um, “unusual.” (Here’s to 3 am Red Bulls and Cheez-Its.) But with braces, keeping them clean quickly is important, and if you have to clean them every time you have a handful of Goldfish, you get exhausted. So I’ve found myself putting a schedule to my eating so I don’t randomly get hungry and have to floss more than four times a day.
When you have to put this much thought into eating, it follows that you won’t just pick up that roll of Pringles you didn’t finish last night. Having an actual balanced diet becomes way easier. All the stuff you’re not supposed to eat? Turns out it’s pretty awful for your teeth as well. Damage to those pearly whites you can see immediately works as a better motivator to stop counting gummy bears as a suitable fruit substitute. (They totally are though, right?)
You know the importance of enunciating
Lifelong mumbler, here, pleased to meet you. My speech is entirely too fast and often on the wrong end of “slightly above a whisper.” The addition of a steampunk factory to my poor teeth took sentences that could be understood after minimum three “Pardons” to straight up Chewbacca level communication.
Braces mean having to put extra effort into your diction and projection. And you know what? You quickly become a lot more eloquent. I got my braces because of unabashed vanity, but in the end, I have gained some other real skills. I’ll come out of this with straight teeth, and some experiences I wouldn’t give up for the world.
Evey G. blogs at Of Hipsters and Social Zombies and is secretly a cat with thumbs. When she’s not attending strangers’ weddings in white dresses, she can be found on Twitter, @belleNINJA.