I found this rather cheesy video for a dentist somewhere recently – can’t remember where now, sadly. It’s a timelapse video, presumably made up of photos, that show how braces can be used to correct the alignment of teeth over time. This would probably be the result of several years’ of treatment.
It brings back some interesting memories for me as I had braces for several years as a teenager. I can’t remember exactly when they were fitted but I think I may have been around 14 years old, and had them until I was 17. After they were removed I wore retainers until I was 21, at which point I started dating Hari. Trying to snog someone with a retainer in is not a great experience.
However, I didn’t just have braces. Firstly, I had to have a total of six teeth removed to reduce overcrowding. My canines were much too far forward and needed some serious force to move them back to where they should be – more force than could be provided by braces alone. So, for several months I had to wear headgear at night – this was a metal frame which clipped on to my braces and then connected with a cloth piece that I wore on my head. There are several photos on Wikipedia of similar devices.
It was not a particularly pleasant experience, but it was one that I had submitted to voluntarily. I had the option of less serious interventions, but these would have produced a worse result. As it was, I was a deeply uncool teenager and felt that any potential embarrassment couldn’t actually make things worse than they already were – better to suffer now and have better teeth in future when I might actually have a chance of being popular.
A long time has passed since then, and in retrospect it was definitely worth it. My teeth are much, much better than they were back in my early teens – I remember the school play was announced as being Dracula shortly before I started treatment and at the time I looked like I had huge fangs. Whilst they’re not quite as straight as they were when I stopped wearing a retainer in 2005, they look reasonably good from a distance and don’t cause me issues when eating.
There’s a lingering stereotype that Brits have bad teeth; nowadays this isn’t the case and in fact Brits have some of the best teeth in the world, even though most adults have to pay for dental treatment and there can be long waiting lists to get registered with NHS dentists. Even though I’ve never had my teeth whitened, on the whole I’m pleased with my teeth and the discomfort of my teens was worthwhile.