Pain, embarrassment and sloppy kisses - the dark side of adult braces
(Picture: Erin Aniker for Metro.co.uk)

Do you hate your teeth?

Do you hate them to the point of avoiding bright lipstick, laughing, talking and smiling without lifting your hand up to cover your mouth?

Me too, and so like hundreds of other UK adults, I have traded the indignity of a crooked smile for the indignity of wearing an adult brace.

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When it comes to physical appearance, on the whole, I’m relatively laid back (read: lazy), being more pro-comfort than pro-looks.

I choose sleep over makeup, can’t remember the last time I wore high heels, and have somehow reached my 30s without succumbing to Botox.

In fact, I am a big believer in embracing ‘flaws’ – I detest clone-like beauty trends and I love seeing laughter lines, crooked noses, freckles or little gaps between people’s front teeth.

If anything, it seems to add to and enhance people’s beauty, making them stand out in a good way.

However, when it comes to my own wonky smile, I am less forgiving. And so after my teeth started to revert back to their original cemetery-esque positions years after already enduring fixed-brackets braces as a teenager, I decided to brave a second orthodontic brace.

This time, I opted for an Invisalign-style brace called Quick Straight Teeth, thinking it would be less conspicuous and faster than fixed ‘train track’ braces.

It is, but there are drawbacks.

While I’m sure some people have found braces to be an absolute joy as an adult, my experience with clear plastic tray-braces has not been 100% positive.

The jolly online orthodontic case studies seem to skim over the less pleasant aspects of having adult braces, so here they are:

The pain

I wasn’t completely unprepared for the discomfort of adult braces, but it did hurt.

In comparison to the fixed braces I had as a teenager, which had the dual discomfort of ‘tight teeth’ and the brackets rubbing against the walls of my mouth, my current plastic tray brace isn’t as uncomfortable.

Pain, embarrassment and sloppy kisses - the dark side of adult braces

It still gives the ‘tight teeth’ feel for the first few days of each tray though.

During the first two days of wearing a new tray, I can’t bite into anything harder than scrambled egg, and it twinges whenever I remove or insert the brace.

But the pain is worth it knowing that my teeth are moving.

The inconvenience

You can’t eat, nor drink hot or coloured drinks with a removable tray brace.

Not only do you have to remove the braces to eat – you also have to clean your teeth before you put the brace back in each time.

So after every meal, every cup of tea or coffee, every biscuit – off you must go to the office loos with your toothbrush.

If people exist who enjoy brushing their teeth upwards of eight times a day at work, they’ll love removable braces. I do not.

I also miss evenings sipping wine in front of the TV – now it’s a quick glass with dinner, brush, then water forever and ever.

Oh, and you can forget festivals – after four hours sipping water at a one-day festival, I cracked and had a beer and a sandwich and ended up rinsing my brace with bottled water in a portaloo. No-one mentioned that in the case studies.

The embarrassment

When I researched user reviews of the braces online, very few people reported a noticeable impact on speech.

My personal experience is that I do slur slightly with them in, and other than pretending to be drunk (rarely acceptable at 11am, even in the world of PR), there’s no way to hide the fact I am wearing a brace when I talk.

In my line of work, I do a lot of talking.

Quick Straight Teeth tray-style braces can be removed, so for important meetings and show-rounds, I can technically take them out.

However, you are supposed to wear them all the time, apart from when you’re eating; my dentist recommended wearing it for 22+ hours a day for optimal results, which after eating and drinking, doesn’t leave much time for non-slurry public speaking.

Pain, embarrassment and sloppy kisses - the dark side of adult braces
Public speaking is embarrassing (Picture: Getty)

I’ve felt self-conscious enough about my slurring that I’ve cheated regularly, probably averaging 20 hours a day, and luckily this doesn’t seem to have impacted my treatment so far. But I wouldn’t recommend risking it.

There’s also the issue of removing the brace at work.

Rather than sneaking off to the loos to remove it every time I needed to eat or talk, after a few weeks, I started ‘subtly’ taking it out at my desk.

I have a back corner desk so the only giveaway was my plastic brace box clacking shut, but it still wasn’t ideal – especially taking into account the inevitable spit strings. Yuck.

The sloppy kisses 

My poor boyfriend.

The plastic brace feels clunkier than fixed braces, and the first time I kissed him with the brace in, he said it felt like kissing someone with an extra row of teeth. Nice.

There was also considerably more spit during the first few weeks while my mouth adjusted to accommodating a lump of indigestible plastic, so that was pleasant.

On the whole, I can conclude that removable plastic braces are not conducive to romance.

The pros!

It isn’t all bad.

Removing the brace was so annoying that I’ve stopped snacking, and lost a few pounds as a result.

The total treatment cost for my top teeth was under £1000 – far less than I anticipated, and payable in monthly installments.

It’s also been a lot faster than I’d hoped – eight weeks later and I’m nearly done.

I didn’t want big plastic perfect TOWIE gnashers, I just wanted to smile again, which I am already. So adult braces are working for me despite the pain, embarrassment and the distinctly unglamorous slobber.

Would I recommend it to other self-conscious adults?

Yes, but make sure you research the different options and consult your dentist – Quick Straight Teeth was the best option for me because my main priorities were speed and cost, but the results aren’t perfect, and I was warned before starting treatment that it wouldn’t solve more complex issues such as moving teeth up and down.

You may find you prefer a fixed brace in terms of getting the results you want.

Costs also vary between providers and brace types, so you should do some independent research before heading to the dentist.

Most dentists will strongly recommend the braces that will give you the best aesthetic results.

But if like me your priorities lie elsewhere, don’t be afraid to go with your gut – you are the one who has to wear them.

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