You were one of the lucky ones who got through adolescence without the humiliation of wearing braces. Twenty years later, though, as your orthodontist glues those little pieces of metal to your teeth, you are about to find out what it’s like to wear braces as an adult. However, with some minor lifestyle adjustments, you can survive wearing braces as an adult.
- Invest in oral-hygiene tools. Wearing braces as an adult draws your attention to your oral hygiene. You will quickly discover how hard it is to clean your teeth and gums when you have a mouth full of wires. A water pick, a device that uses a small, high-pressure stream of water to remove debris from small spaces in your mouth, can be a lifesaver. Ask your orthodontist which one he recommends. Also invest in a selection of different sized toothbrushes and a fluoride rinse. When your teeth feel clean, you will be less self-conscious.
- Drink plenty of water. Drinking water washes food particles out of your mouth, dilutes sticky or acidic substances and keeps your mouth lubricated. Moist tissue slides better across braces and won’t get caught on rough edges and tear. Also, drinking water helps maintain fresh breath, making you less self-conscious.
- Abstain from sticky foods. Give up trying to chew gum or eat candy while you have braces. Also, pass on food with small particles, like popcorn. These foods will get stuck in your braces and increase your anxiety of being seen with food stuck on your teeth. Your orthodontist should provide you with a list of foods to avoid.
- Learn snappy come-backs. Be prepared for strange comments about your appearance with braces from friends and strangers. Kids usually just get “railroad tracks.” Because the braces make you look like a teenager, adults get interesting descriptions of people’s preferences for younger partners.
- Smile. Know that as an adult, your self-esteem goes deeper than your appearance. Allow your personality to shine through the braces because that’s what most people really like about you. Remember, it’s only a temporary condition, anyway. The braces will come off and your teeth will be straighter than they’ve ever been.