Six Months Smiles: The half way point

If you follow me on Twitter or have read my monthly round ups, you may have seen me mention my braces. For years and years I have been extremely self conscious of my teeth, rarely smiling in photos and being bullied at school and even college for the 'state' of them. As I'm nearing my thirties and thinking about my future a lot, I decided to do something about it. I'd heard of a couple of teeth straightening treatments that don't take too long and are hardly noticeable -which, is something I really wanted them to be.

After a little chat with my dentist, I decided to go with Six Months Smiles. An American teeth straightening treatment that involves wearing braces for a period of 5-9 months. You can't get this on the NHS, and it is expensive (but totally worth it). I've had a number of people email me about my braces so, I wanted to do a little post on them which will hopefully answer some questions that people have been asking. 

Food
These braces are very delicate and can pop off and break a lot more easier than your standard NHS ones. There are certain foods I have to stay away from whilst I have these on. The following foods are not allowed;
  • Nothing harder than a Pretzel can be eaten (Bread crusts, pizza crusts, bagels, crackers, Crisps, etc)
  • Nuts, popcorn, hard sweets, chewing gum and any sort of hard or chewy sweets
  • Anything with colouring (Pasta sauces, curry, sauces, tomato soup, tea and coffee)
  • Raw vegetables
  • Whole fruit (An apple a day in this situation may keep the doctor away, but it won’t keep the dentist away)
  • Chicken wings, ribs, burgers, burritos, steak and anything else you can’t take apart and eat piece by piece.
  • Rice. Yep, that's right I let it fool me (more than once). They get stuck/hide in the small spaces between my brackets, teeth and wires. On a number of occasions, I've been talking to someone (thinking all is fine) and a little bit of rice comes flying out. They're like little ninjas.
So, all the good stuff is basically out of bounds. I've been mainly eating potatoes - waffles, baked and mashed. Although, I've managed to keep cake and ice cream under 'brace-friendly foods' so all is not lost. 

Pain
I'm not going to lie, or try to be the tough girl...so yes, they are bloody painful. I was in pain for most of the first month. My gums were shredded, I took codeine every night for the first week to help me sleep and I wasn't about to eat anything for the first 4 days - I was drinking protein shakes through a straw to keep my energy levels up. After the first month, and my first brace tightening appointment, everything has been pretty pain-free, with the odd bracket catching the inside of my bottom lip every so often. I found ways to help ease the pain without relying on painkillers too much;
  • Orthodontic wax - put a little bit on the bracket that is rubbing
  • Bonjela - it bloody stings when you apply it to your painful, cut gums but, go with it!
  • Peppermint tea - a mug of this really helps soothe your mouth. Just don't drink it all the time as it can stain your braces!
  • Warm, salty water - don't drink it! Just use it like you would a mouthwash.
Tips
  • Carry a TePe, toothbrush, breath freshener and compact mirror with you in your bag at all times. 
  • Drink water with every meal. Lots and lots of water.
  • Lipbalm. I've found my lips get very dry now so I always have a tube to hand.
Things I've learnt
Before I had these fitted, I went through a whole load of emotions - Would people take the piss out of me for being an adult and having braces? Would it be really painful? Would I be able to eat at all?! Would I have a lisp?

No one has made any horrid comments, laughed or looked at me like I'm an alien - most people don't actually notice them until I point them out! Everyone seems pretty amazed that you can hardly see them and, most people have a teenage brace story to tell me so, it makes me feel a little less self conscious when I'm having a drink in the pub. 

At first, I felt a bit weird having to brush my teeth after every meal. Which means having to carry a toothbrush around. I've managed to get used to it - mainly because I pretty much refuse to eat out now as it just gets a little stressful for me! 

Week 1
Six Months smiles month one
Taken when I was in pain so this is more of a grimace than a smile! 
Week 18
Six Months Smiles month four
I'm not sure there's a way of taking a close up of your mouth without looking weird!

Now I don’t want to make this whole experience I'm going through sound like such a horrid thing, it’s really not. It’s just an adjustment like everything else in life. The braces are now quite comfortable and I am in fact super happy with them. In four months my teeth have become so straight I get quite teary when I think about how amazing they're going to look when the braces come off. For a start, I'm going to have to learn to smile with my mouth open as I've never intentionally done that! I will miss my braces a little when they’re gone but only because they make my lips puff out ever so slightly so I have a fuller pout.

If you have any questions about my brace experience then please don't hesitate to get in touch!