Braces were the bain of my life as a teenager; the torment from other kids, the discomfort, plus those dreadful retainers once the brace was finally removed. Never did I think back then that I’d go through it all again with adult braces or adult orthodontics – whatever you wish to call it.
Oh boy do I wish I just suck it up and wore my retainer.
But I was a stubborn teenager, like most, and refused to wear it. I paid for it since – quite literally. Now prepare yourself for a long read, as I’m going to talk you through every little detail about my experience with getting braces as an adult. This will hopefully be a handy guide for those considering adult braces, or for those who are in the early stages and wondering what’s on the horizon.
My first experience with braces.
I had braces for approximately 3 years and had them removed on my 17th birthday, back in March 2010. I wore my retainer for around 2 weeks afterwards. However, as a stubborn teenager I refused to wear it any longer and didn’t believe any consequences would come from it. Two years later (one year into university), I began to notice how my teeth had started to move on the top right. It made me self-conscious enough to consider getting adult braces. For six years I debated the idea, but the cost was what stopped me every time.
What was the final tipping point?
My now-husband proposed in May 2018 and we were planning a wedding for one year later. Once all the excitement had settled I thought, ‘what about my smile in photographs?’. That was the final tipping point for me and wasn’t something I wanted to stop me from enjoying our big day.
How did I get started with adult braces?
I had already been recommended a dental practice – The Old Surgery in Crewe, Cheshire. I booked myself in for a free consultation to get the ball rolling and initially went in thinking the following:
- It’ll cost no more than £1,500.
- I’ll go for the Invisalign option so no one notices the braces.
- I’d only need braces on the top row.
- It’ll be complete within 6 months.
Of course, everything I thought I knew, was wrong. Hence why it’s always important to go for these consultations. Within the consultation they covered the following: types of braces available, costs, duration, treatment, aftercare/retainers, finance packages and what else they include in the price. This took roughly one hour to go through everything.
What happened next?
I spent around 2 weeks considering everything which was discussed in my consultation. After that, I decided to book the appointment where they’d take moulds of my teeth (the next step in the process). This appointment cost me £49 (on offer at the time from £99) and included a general health check-up.
Having this appointment doesn’t mean you’re obliged to go ahead with the treatment, or that you must commit to that practice after you get your results. It was simply so they could take the moulds and assess my teeth, to be able to answer the following:
- What type of brace is suitable for me – not all braces will work for you.
- An approximate time frame for how long it’ll take until I get the results I want.
- Finally, how much it’ll cost for the available treatments.
So, what were my results based on my moulds?
It took around one week for the moulds to be assessed and to be contacted with all the answers. The information I was given is below:
- The traditional, metal train-track braces were the only suitable option for me.
- They anticipated around 9 months from the brace fitting to the day they’d be removed.
- The cost = £2,950 and £450 for the temporary removal should I need it (for my wedding day, incase the treatment wasn’t completed on time).
What were my thoughts, based on my first consultation?
As I mentioned before, I went into the free consultation thinking I knew all the answers. Based on all this, I couldn’t be further from the truth. Why?
- It’d cost me double what I had in my head.
- The Invisalign brace wouldn’t be possible for me, despite me thinking it would be.
- I’d need braces on the top and bottom. Not just the top like I thought.
- It’d take an extra 3 months to complete.
Due to me saving, none of these unexpected answers stopped me. But, they certainly required some consideration! It only took me a week to think about it, before I rang the practice to pay the amount in full and book my first treatment. Due to the reassurance that they could be temporarily removed should the treatment run over, I had no concerns.
So what happens now? I’m going to talk you through each and every appointment I had throughout the whole treatment; what was done, what was said, and the results. I’ll also state the dates I had these and how long the appointment was, so you have a rough idea for how much time you need to dedicate to this treatment.
Appointment 1 | 10th August 2018 – 20 minutes
This is what they call a Trios Scan. This will be your first appointment after you confirm you wish to go ahead – from my knowledge, once you’ve had this appointment, there’ll be no backing out without a fee involved, because this is where the work begins with producing your brace.
During this appointment, they take a digital scan of your teeth, which gets sent off to the lab as a guide to make your brace, along with your moulds. They simply guide a UV light around your teeth, which forms a digital replica of your mouth on a screen next to you. That’s all this appointment is for. Your dentist will then book you in 6-8 weeks later for your official brace fitting.
Appointment 2 | 1st October 2018 – 2 hours
This was the fitting of the brace. During this appointment, they did the following: filed down three of my lower front teeth, did a scale & polish, fitted brackets on to each tooth, then fitted the wire.
Once the brace was fitted, I then booked in a series of follow-up appointments at the reception for every 4-5 weeks; this was with the assumption that my teeth would begin to move quite fast. Because I had no extractions done prior to the fitting, they felt this would be fine. I then saw a hygienist for 10 minutes who showed me how to properly clean my teeth now my braces were on. They also handed me a box which was filled with all the essential tools and products to help me along the way.
Appointment 3 | 2nd November 2018 – 20 minutes
This was a simple check-up to ensure everything was moving as it should, see the progress made so far and to also change the metal wires. Changing these isn’t painful at all, just uncomfortable as the brace has been tightened again and you feel it working straight away.
Appointment 4 | 29th November 2018 – 20 minutes
Again, a simple check-up and a change of the wires to keep things moving!
Appointment 5 | 3rd January 2019 – 20 minutes
It might sound repetitive, and it is, but these appointments are simply to keep replacing the wire to keep the teeth moving constantly.
Appointment 6 | 31st January 2019 – 20 minutes
Ooh, something different! The wires got changed as normal, but as my front bottom teeth had been filed down at the sides to avoid overlapping, I had suddenly got a gap between two of them. To close this, an elastic band was put along my bottom set behind the wire to help close this.
Appointment 7 | 28th February 2019 – 20 minutes
Again, this was just to change the wires and replace the elastic band also. However, they found the elastic band wasn’t closing the gap fast enough. So I had an appointment once a week for the following four weeks to change the elastic band to keep it constantly tightening the gap.
Appointment 8 | 28th March 2019 – 1 hour
It’s removal day! This was far quicker than I thought, with the braces only being on for a mere 6 months – the fact that I had braces as a teenager helped with the process, as my teeth had already moved once, so apparently this helps move things along quicker. They remove the brace, do a full scale & polish and then take a mould to make your retainer.
Were there any issues throughout the treatment?
Not at all. The only concern I would say is taking time off work. My first 3 appointments required me to book time off work and try to make it back – this is difficult when the office is only open during specific hours! Maybe consider a practice which has opening hours which suit your work hours. Mine was luckily open until 7pm on Thursdays, so I booked in advance to always have appointments after work on a Thursday.
Does your brace fitting hurt?
Hurt is a strong word – I would describe it more as uncomfortable. If you’re in any kind of pain during the treatment, let them know, as you shouldn’t be. The two things I found ‘painful’, was when they put this silicon guard in your mouth. This is what keeps everything out the way so they can get to work faster and prevent them catching your lips. This used to rub against the upper gum, just under my top lip and formed an ulcer after each appointment, but nothing a bit of Bonjela couldn’t calm!
Do you struggle to eat, drink or speak with braces on?
Eating – I struggled with this for the first 4 days after the brace was fitted. Your teeth are moving right away once that wire is tightened, and this causes your teeth to become quite sensitive. The biggest issue I had was applying pressure to my teeth; i.e. when eating or brushing my teeth. I advise sticking to soft foods which require minimal chewing; omelette, soups, rice, mash potato and so on. Initially it may feel like this is what life will be like so long as you have your adult braces but trust me, you will get used to it and be eating normal again within one week.
Drinking – I didn’t have difficulty drinking, but I did find my teeth to be rather sensitive for the first 2 days. I found drinking through a straw a lot easier and tried to avoid very hot or ice cold drinks.
Speaking – You will be more than capable of stringing a sentence together; your ability to speak does not go! However, I did talk with a lisp every time I spoke words with an ‘F’ in them. There were some words that I simply spoke in a strange way, but these changed every day, much to my family, friends and colleagues amusement!
Are there foods or drink you’re not allowed?
It’s not that you’re forbidden from these items, but you’re advised not to have them to avoid any damage to your brace. This is the likes of apples and chewing gum or chewy sweets i.e. toffee. These will do the most harm. Other things to consider is food and drink which will stain your teeth, as you’ve got to remember the notches on each tooth which won’t be stained. So avoid too much coffee or red win (a big disappoint for me)!
Does each appointment cost, on top of the cost of your adult brace?
No. The £2,950 price tag included everything between the Digital Trios Scan, to the removal of the brace. This covers the scan, every single appointment you need during your straightening treatment (even those unplanned ones), the removal of the brace, the fitted and removable retainers, and even a bespoke teeth whitening treatment once the braces were removed. However, if you’re worried about this, I’d recommend going through a breakdown of all costs to avoid any unexpected expenditure.
Do you have to wear a retainer after the treatment has finished?
Yes. This time, there was no way of me getting out of it (not that I’d want to after the amount I spent)! When it comes to the retainer after your treatment has come to an end, there can be two options for you. For me, I could have the normal clip-on retainer to wear at night to avoid my teeth moving back. However, they also have a fixed retainer option – I now have both.
The fixed retainer is a metal strip, similar to the metal brace, but without the notches. This strip got fitted around the back of my teeth and permanently holds them in place. It shouldn’t ever break, but if for whatever reason it does, you can easily get it replaced. No one can see this retainer. It’s completely invisible, no wire on show, and after the first couple days you no longer notice it’s there.
I also have the clip-in plastic retainer which I wore 24/7 for the first three months after my braces were removed, as this is when your teeth are more likely to move back. Now I wear this retainer every other night whilst I sleep – even one year on I notice the difference if I skip 2 nights in a row, as the retainer feels tighter.
Would you recommend adult braces?
If you’re seriously considering getting them, then yes, I absolutely recommend them. However, if you’re someone who is simply getting them to straighten a single tooth just because it’s a little ‘off-set’, I wouldn’t bother. It’s time consuming and a massive financial cost and for the sake of one or two teeth that’ll probably look the same after the treatment is done, it’s not worth it. Adult braces are suitable for those who require a fair amount of movement.
Have you ever had adult braces? What was your experience like?