I Got Braces When I Was 20!

i got braces

Most brace-faces aren't nearly as cute as Katy! | Source: ohnotheydidnt

Most people get braces in middle school or high school. It’s part of why they’re considered most people’s “awkward years.” Considering I lead a pretty awkward life, I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised when I got braces way after everybody else did.

Throughout my entire life, I’d been complimented on my smile. When my brother got braces when he was 13, my parents made an orthodontist appointment for me, too, just to see if everything was cool. It was: the orthodontist told me at the time (I was about 9) that I’d never need braces. This brought me joy, because I really like candy. I went about my business for another ten years — a decade, people — not worrying about it.

That is, until I went in for a routine cleaning. My dentist, who I’d been going to and getting X-rayed by for at least five years at the time, asked if I had any concerns. I told him I noticed some sensitivity near my front teeth, so he took some more X-rays, and his feedback was devastating.

Gwen Stefani

I did not look as cute as Gwen! | Source: Popular-Pics.com

Apparently my dentist never noticed that I still had a baby tooth, and as a result, the canine that was supposed to come in its place became “impacted,” meaning it never came down and was just chillin’ out inside my gum. The problem was made even worse by my wisdom teeth–once they came in, the adult tooth didn’t have enough room to emerge, so everything had to be moved over to make room for it.

A problem that most people resolve in junior high was being dealt with entering my junior year of college. Even I don’t procrastinate that much, even when 30 Rock is on.

Angry girl with braces

I looked like this a lot. Like, a lot. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

I went through the typical stages of grief. First came denial: He’s a crock! I’ll get Invisalign! Pain and guilt set in next, once I got them on. A lot of pain at first, which wore off over time. Then came anger: My dentist is an incompetent douchebag! I’ll never get laid now! Depression came next: I didn’t want to leave the house because I was paranoid about getting food stuck in my teeth and self-conscious of the fact that I looked like an overdeveloped 12-year-old. I went out less between 20 and 22 than before I did when I couldn’t even drive.

Then things started to suck a little less once the reconstruction phase hit. I figured I’d distract from my metal mouth: I dyed my hair, I worked out, I mastered a smoky eye to draw attention away from my mouth. Acceptance and hope were the final phase, in which I didn’t necessarily get over it, but saw the silver lining (besides the one holding together my brackets): I was eating healthier by default. I’d look extra hot when it was all over. I was preventing bigger problems from arising later. I knew a lot of people who needed braces but couldn’t afford them, so I was thankful. Because I went out less, my grades improved and I got 4.0s in my major. All that, and I could tell creepy guys that I was underage to get them to leave me alone.

The kicker? Once I got them off, a lot of people didn’t even notice — because they never really paid attention to them in the first place. I got worked up over nothing!

Even though I had to stay away from caramel for two years, I’d say it was still a pretty sweet deal.

Have you had braces or do you have them now? Tell me about them in the comments!

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Posted in: Body & Health, Body Image, Your Life
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  • Rose

    I am 21 years old and I have diligently planned this whole braces thing. I waited until after I turned 21 so I could party and look hot doing it. Then I got engaged, so I planned my wedding for two and a half years after braces so I could have a beautiful smile for the wedding. And then, I work in a dentist office and get the braces free. But if all that wasn’t enough, I still hate mine. I just have a baby face already, so it doesn’t help that braces make me look more twelve. I’m glad to see the ending outcome some day, but still…yuck! It’s nice to see other people in the same position as me. I have impacted adult canines, too, so I had to get braces or else I’d say, screw the braces, I love my smile! Because I did until my baby canine started to decay and rot. So with that said, to all in the same situation, it’ll all be over some day. Don’t you worry.

  • Catherine hackett

    I got my braces on when i was 16 years old and now im 20 andd still have them on….i. Was scared and plus there were some problems going on so. Havent had work on them in a /long..they told me because i waited so long that now i. Have to pay 500 and yea that sucks….

  • Elizabeth

    So I’m tearing up reading this because I just got my braces on yesterday, and my story is exactly the same, same age, same tooth problem, same fears, and worries. Right now I feel like I look absolutely ridiculous, and my poor boyfriend is probably tired of trying to convince me otherwise. It’s nice to know someone else went through the exact same thing, and managed to find the silver lining. Thank you.

  • lyssa

    i turned 20 like four months ago. I am just now looking to finallly fix my teeth people made fun of. Even someone i once loved dearly. I am going to set a appt for getting braces tomoro. Hopefully i dont need any more work before i get them or i will be close to 21 when i finally get them. Im hoping to have my brace face back to normal by the time im 22. So about a year n half two being tops. Go for it whoever is afraid. Im just worried ppl n my bf will think i look like a child :\ oh well better to look younger than older !!

  • bracesperson

    I have braces on and have had them on since feb. 2012. Braces Don’t Hurt they just use a special glue and u pick your colors. Very little pain is if you have an expander the whole process of turning it each day and night and the process before u put on braces was horrible. But hey its all worth it at the end except for the accident i had with my teeth reminder don’t bite your lollipop if you have braces cuz a small piece of your teeth can come out. But dont worry the dentist can fix it.

  • Erin

    Braces aren’t that bad! I’m currently 36 and doing round 3. WEAR YOUR RETAINERS when you get your braces off to avoid more rounds! I have a blog about my orthodontic experience (I also had jaw surgery) if anyone’s interested! xbites.blogspot.com — I have a lot of information on it.

  • cheyanne.rau

    I’m 20 years old and have braces now too! I will be turning 21 this Friday! Though, there are some good things and bad things about braces. It didn’t hurt when they tightened the first few times. Though, now it just hurts! I have no idea why. But I had some good times with braces. I even got married with them on! Ha. But I hope that my braces come off soon, because, well the orthodontist told me that they should be off my September this year!

  • Nikki M

    I go my braces when I was 20. I am now 22 and on the final stage. To tell you the truth I am glad I didn’t get them in high school I was the frizz-matron in school cause I had bushy frizzy hair, it is still frizzy but now I can style it so it looks less wild. To make matters worse I had glasses and never played and sport. I ran into one of my old classmates who was the worste bully ever, he had to do a double glance to make sure that it was me. Admittedly I just had my hair colored and straightened, but it was well worth it.

  • Sarah

    I have braces now! But ive been through worse than all of you. My tooth was upside down and backward going towards my nazal passage. The had to pull my baby tooth and put a chain, yes a chain, in my gum hooked to my braces which was hooked to a big metal piece in the roof of my mouth that you had to turn a key to pull the tooth. Crazy! But im in my last stages now with rubber bands and fullon braces! 🙂 what a life and im only 14 now imagine how long that took 2-3 years!

  • naiad

    I JUST got my braces off this week, after 2 years- and to be honest NOBODY even realized.. So yeah if theres anyone reading this thats not sure whether or not to get them, the few months of pain are totally worth it for a lifetime of straight teeth. : )

  • Val

    I had braces when I was 12 until I turned 15, everything looked fine. Then at 19 my dentist told me my teeth were moving and I wasn’t biting the right way, I went through the same stages until i got them AGAIN. It’s almost been a year now, i dislike them, but i know they were completely necessary! I think that if you have the opportunity, get them, trust me one and a half years with braces compared to a lifetime of a beautiful painless smile?

  • oriGINAlity

    At the age of sixteen and a girl with terribly crooked teeth you’d think I’d get over my fear of the dentist and braces by now for the sake of a pretty smile. But I just can’t. I am overly sensitive to anything in my mouth, and I fear braces will drive me over the edge. I know my self confidence would be boosted if I got my teeth fixed, but at the same time I like how I look. I don’t want to have a PERFECT smile… If I ever get braces I’ll probably be in my twenties as well, hiding from everyone and awaiting the day they come off! Great post!

  • Emma

    Ugh I know I have braces. But, hopefully they’ll be off before my senior year…