All too often I hear the statement “I am too old for braces.”  This statement is followed by an explanation that the general dentist sent me here, but…. Fill in the blank with any number of reasons why adults cannot justify orthodontics. I don’t have time, I have kids who will/do need braces, I’m TOO OLD!  I get it! I am a busy working mom of 11 and 14 year old girls. They have needs that I, undoubtedly, put ahead of my own time-wise and financially. We all do that for our kids, our spouses, our jobs. The secrets out, I color my own greys because I cannot justify the time or money to have it done in a salon.
But our teeth, our smiles…that’s different. It’s different for a lot of reasons. Think about it. What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone for the first time? I notice eyes and then teeth…in that order. Eyes and teeth. Eventually, I’ll notice someone’s hair or what they are wearing, but the first two things make a statement to me. Other than a little wax or tweeze and a good night’s sleep, there’s not a ton one can do to change his eyes. But teeth…there’s so much more!
Keep them clean. That goes without saying, of course! But sometimes it’s really hard to keep severely misaligned teeth clean. I had braces as an adult, twice – don’t judge! Prior to my braces I had a tooth that was tipped and turned in such a way that I ALWAYS caught food in it. Every time I would eat out socially, I would make a mad dash to the ladies room to ensure that all of the greens were out of that spot. Just imagine how many times I’d smile across the table and flash a little leftover in my grin. Gah!
Be proud. Prior to my braces, I made it a point to not smile too big. If you know me, you know that’s hard. I would scrutinize every picture to see just how bad DID my teeth look and did I have food in them. Having a smile that I am proud to show off is one of the most liberating feelings! To feel an emotion and be able to boldly express it without reservation is an amazing gift! The day that I got my braces off (both times) is a day that I won’t soon forget. I wish that feeling for everyone. Be proud of yourself. Be bold. Smile the smile you feel in your heart!
Be healthy. A straight smile is not just about cosmetics. Can you function with misaligned teeth? Of course you can. However, you can keep your teeth forever. Think about the skull bones hanging in your high school biology class. I know those were plastic, BUT, they are an example of an actual skeletal with teeth! If your teeth don’t line up correctly you have an increased risk of cracking a tooth that hits too hard, bone loss, cavities and gum disease. Additionally, it is now evident that improperly positioned jaws can contribute to sleep apnea. It’s true! Aligning your teeth can improve the length of time you keep them in your skull, as well as your overall health.
YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD!!!!! Answer this question. How long to you plan to live? My father-in-law will be 84 this summer! He golfs, he drives, he works, he enjoys a little Jack in the afternoon sometimes. He’s quite functional. I am in my 40’s. Sure, my kids think I’m old, but the truth of the matter is that I’m not even half-way to the grave. The first third (or maybe ½) of my life I was awkward, gawky and unsure of myself. My 30’s I was better, but I was still making and saving money and raising babies. My 40’s and before too long, my 50’s is where it’s at! I’m finally getting comfortable with who I am. I have a little extra money in my pocket (even though I still color my own hair) and I want to take care of myself. I want to be healthy and confident. I want to smile my whole smile and look at pictures of myself and say I look happy!
What will people think? Will they look at you in braces and think, how vain? Will your children think, what about me? Will your spouse think, I’m married to brace face? Or, will they think, good for you! I’ve always wanted to do that! I wish I was brave enough? To all of the parents out there, consider this last point. We teach by example. What will our children learn from our example of making an effort to improve our health and self-image? You are not too old.  ~ Becky Moore

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