As the business of Insta perfect selfies continues to boom, Jo Taylor explains what made her take the leap to get braces in her thirties….
We Brits have long been ridiculed for having terrible teeth. However, with the Instagram generation and a global love of selfies that is all changing. You can filter your teeth ‘Ross Gellar day-glow white’ but you can’t Facetune wonky teeth or narrow smiles. More adults are turning to dental and orthodontic treatments to give themselves those perfect pearly whites. And I am one of them.
On a routine visit to the dentist this year it was pointed out that I had a deep overbite and crowding at the back that was likely to be a cavity hot-spot as I got older, and thus I should consider having braces. Whilst I am lucky enough to have very straight teeth, and everyone thinks I’m completely bonkers for even considering braces, I have never loved my smile. It’s quite narrow and you can’t see my bottom teeth, meaning 99% of my pictures are me half-smiling in a sort of pouty manner as I don’t think it looks good when I do dare to bare.
Armed with this information, I booked myself in to see Dr Mark Vaughn, Clinical Director and Orthodontist at Metamorphosis Orthodontics Parsons Green. They are renowned as being the best in the business with rave reviews online and in the media. The clinic itself has a very clean, airy and lux feel to it. Glass chandeliers hang above large vases of pastel pink flowers and orchids giving it more of a ‘spa’ vibe.
The initial consultation is 30-minutes, involving a full assessment and recommendations. Shortly after arriving for mine, I was waved into the examination room by a friendly nurse in chic pink scrubs, where I was introduced to Dr Vaughn. He immediately set me at ease and happily took my rather bolshie opening statement in his stride. ‘I just want an honest answer as to whether I need braces for medical reasons rather than just hearing a cosmetic hard sell,’ I declared. He advised me he would provide all options, including pros and cons of ‘doing nothing.’ and help me distinguish between cosmetic and medical reasons for any orthodontic work.
I had a full 3D x-ray so my teeth and jaw structure could be reviewed. Given I have quite the square jaw line I was rather terrified I’d end up even more angular if my bite was changed. However, I was assured that only jaw surgery could do that (I was terrible at science at school okay!) and as an adult my looks are a bit more set than a child or teen who may experience facial change due to normal growth.
At the end of the consultation Dr Vaughn recommended that fixed braces would be a positive step for me. They would broaden my arches for a toothier grin, tilt my teeth outwards and overall give me that Hollywood smile. And most importantly save my poor bottom teeth from being ground down to little stumps by my incorrect bite. Though it would not be quick – it would take 12 to 18 months to complete treatment.
I came away from the appointment feeling very informed and not at all pushed into a decision. Dr Vaughn was very supportive of me taking some time to think about it and in the meantime he would write me a letter explaining the diagnosis and recommendations.
Given my teeth are straight, I have always fallen into the trap of thinking I didn’t need braces. I didn’t fully appreciate that they could be used to alter bite and broaden a smile as well as tilt teeth out to a more aesthetically pleasing angle. After a bit of cheesy grinning into the mirror, prodding my teeth, taking a whole load of ugly close up mouth photos along with a little look at my finances, I decided that it was definitely the right thing for me to do. Be gone narrow goat-esq smile!
I opted for the clear Damon braces which are fixed, the train track kind, but are very discrete as they don’t have rubber bands. They are self-ligating, making them smaller, less intrusive and less painful than standard metal or ceramic braces. They also don’t stain, so I wouldn’t have to give up my beloved red wine. I wasn’t able to have Invisalign for my specific issues so it was discounted outright. But in any case I would am not very good at strictly following instructions and I would definitely forget to wear them every day, so having the device actually glued to my teeth suited me much better.
The brace fitting itself is very easy. It takes 45-60 minutes. Your teeth are checked again, followed by a scan of your mouth so they can track changes digitally and then they are cleaned thoroughly. The brackets are glued to your teeth which is absolutely painless and then the wire is clicked in. Et voila, you now have braces.
I can’t lie, whilst it looked great, it did feel like I had Lego stuck to my teeth and the brackets that are fitted to the very back molars did rub my gums a bit at first. I spent my first evening at a drinks event pulling what can only be described as a toothy camel grin whilst I got used to them. However, the pain does settle down and you start to forget about them. And as a bonus, as someone who has always had lips on the slightly thinner side, having the extra support by the brackets under my top lip has given me some extra plumpness a la fillers. Excellent.
Now the costs. Orthodontic treatment doesn’t come cheap. There are no two ways around it. If you happen across a ‘bargain’ then be wary because braces – both fixed and Invisalign - are not risk free, so you do want to be in the very best hands.
The braces that I opted for cost £5975, which is fairly standard for clear Damon braces but if you pay upfront rather than taking the finance or split payment option, you get a lovely 5% discount at the clinic. Everything is included in the cost so no surprise bills at the end of treatment. Hurrah. The only extra cost for me over the course of the treatment will be seeing a hygienist to keep my teeth and the braces in tip-top shape.
So, at age 33 here I am with train tracks, albeit the very subtle kind. Despite the slight pain for the first few days and having to give up certain hard foods and sugary drinks that could damage the brackets or my teeth, I am very happy with my decision to not only to get braces but to go to see Dr Vaughn at Metamorphosis Orthodontics Parsons Green and can’t wait to my smile improve significantly. It’s a big decision for anyone who isn’t happy with their teeth but sometimes just knowing the options can go a long way.
For more information and appointments with Dr Vaughn at Metamorphosis Orthodontics, Parsons Green (part of BUPA), ring 020 7731 1077