I’ve recently made a decision that I had been pondering for a while, and the reason I’ve been putting it off and off for so long has mostly to do with the mentality that vanity is bad.
I’m getting orthodontic treatment.
I’ve been self-conscious about my smile for a long time. I had somewhat-ok teeth growing up, and then I had an impacted upper canine and 4 wisdom teeth that came in guns blazing. My teeth were pushed badly together, and the result is a smile that, in my opinion, is crooked, ugly, unsightly, and not healthy, because as your dentist may have told you: the more crowded your teeth are, the bigger the chances are for cavities, plaque build-up, decay and other nasty things. I had one really bad experience with ortho in my teens. I had to wear a palate expansion retainer for a while because the dentist then thought it was the best to give my wisdom teeth room to grow in. Needless to say it didn’t work, since I’m still here talking about this, right?
It doesn’t help that I had severe dentist phobia for a loooong time, had to take Valium to get my wisdom teeth out, and once I had conquered that fear and I asked my dentist in the UK about the ortho options to fix things… He gave me a leaflet.
A leaflet? As a business owner I know that when someone comes to you to ask about a product directly YOU SELL THE CRAP OUT OF IT, you don’t give them a card!
Around that time, I had started my business and started posing for photographs in my patterns, and I noticed I really truly disliked my smile. Most of my pattern photos don’t have me smiling, or if I’m smiling it’s off-center or it is a photo that makes the garment look so good I’ll swallow my pride and show that horrible smile.
We moved to California and… If I thought I had a self-conscious problem with my smile before, it multiplied living here. 90% of the people in here have perfect teeth – mostly not by nature but by architecture. And that’s fine, but it makes me very reticent to smile openly. When I talk to people I sometimes see them looking at my mouth and I feel that dread in my stomach: They’re looking at that crooked canine, or how my upper and lower jaw don’t align… And while I know it may not be the truth, it stops me dead in my tracks.
As part of my goals this year, I am hoping for self-improvement in several areas. I am developing better routines for myself, creating boundaries to avoid burnout, and this is one part that I had been putting off.
Like I mentioned earlier, most of my reticence to this change had to do with vanity. I don’t advocate unnecessary medical procedures or surgery to look “younger”, and part of me thought I was being a hypocrite by falling down the rabbit hole of dental improvements.
But then I went for a check-up at a new dentist last week, we were all pleasantly surprised at the state of my teeth, and we discussed the situation, and looked into our insurance plans. Things looked financially achievable, and well, why not do it now? I’m turning 34 later this month, and putting it off won’t actually help at all. I was encouraged by knowing that I have had no cavities, I have really good dental quality (no decay, no erosion), so really, putting my teeth straight will only make my mouth happier.
Ergo, improving my quality of life, adding self-esteem to my perception of myself, and achieving part of my goals this year.
Last Monday I got my molds, X-rays and scans done. Turns out I’m a Class 1 with only mild left TMJ (whatever that is!), and it puts me in a process 18 to 24 months long. In less than 2 years I could have a radiant smile, so next Wednesday (18th) I’m going in to get everything installed.
I’m not lying when I say I’m a bit scared, a bit excited, and a bit nervous. It’s going to be painful for a while, and I bet I’ll curse the day I made this choice when I can’t eat popcorn at the cinema next. But I know the long-term result will be worth it… And you’ll hold my hand through it, right?
I’ll be writing about my journey here, maybe with some photos, not for me but with the hope that my journey will allow you to start carving a pathway of your own: