Part Five: Impact on Your Self-Esteem
How do you feel about yourself now that you have braces? Your feelings count!
Adults: The Forgotten Audience
Lots of brochures and websites are written for kids and teenagers who get braces. After all, their budding egos are easily bruised. But what about us? Just because we're "grown up" doesn't mean we don't feel weird about wearing braces or headgear! We must go to work each day and deal with the reactions of other adults, and the realities, inconveniences, and pressures of adult life.
Are we supposed to just ignore the fact that this is a big deal for us? Well heck no! Listen, this is a major change in your appearance, and it can be quite uncomfortable. You are entitled to feel weird about it!
From the emails that other adults have sent me, I have found that men tend to feel dorky or geeky with braces. Women tend to feel either unattractive or teenage-cute. Either way you slice it, it spells: Self-conscious! Some adults don't care what other people think. If that describes you, then you've cleared a major hurdle.
Truthfully, don't let this freak you out too much. The braces are a big deal for you, because they are in your mouth and you deal with them 24/7. But others barely notice. Sure, it's a conversation piece for about two seconds. After that, others don't really want to talk about it (unless they went through it themselves and want to share their experiences).
So many people (both adults and children) have braces these days, it's becoming more common. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, more than a million adults in North America have braces! Consider this:
Many adults wore braces as kids
Many adults have kids who are (or were) in braces
Many adults think about getting braces themselves
In short, I think that most adults are sympathetic, particularly if you must wear headgear. They realize that you are doing something positive to improve your appearance. Maybe they even envy you for taking a proactive role.
And in case you didn't know about this, here's something else to consider: some adults have a fetish for braces and headgear. That's right, some adults, world-wide, find braces erotic, and even go to the trouble of having "fake" braces and headgear made for themselves. They envy that you have the real thing, and think that you look sexy and incredible in your braces. Think about that that next time you feel dorky!
And consider this, as well: Tom Cruise has braces a few years ago. And many female stars have worn them, too, such as Gwen Stefani and Cher!
Be Prepared for Questions
So how do you deal with other people's reactions to your new metal mouth? Your close friends, your spouse, or other important people in your life know you have braces. Your business associates don't. Sooner or later, you'll open your mouth and they'll react.
The best way to get through this, is to plan ahead. Visualize that important meeting. How do you want to handle it? What will you say? A little forethought will help you quickly get through many awkward moments.
Next...When The Retainers Go On