‘I got a brace in my 40s and this is what I learned’

Do you always keep your mouth closed for photos? Ever self-consciously put your hand over your mouth when you’re speaking? While it may not seem like a huge thing, a lack of confidence in your smile can have an insidious impact on your quality of life. Here, writer Samantha Priestley shares her journey to loving her smile, from why she decided to get a brace in her 40s to the tools and tips she uses for strong, healthy teeth.

It’s never too late to do something about your smile

When I was eight, my dentist recommended I get a brace to fix overcrowding. He explained that some of my back teeth would have to come out to give the rest room to move. I decided I’d rather live with my crooked teeth.

Samantha Priestley

For the next 30 years, I learned how to hide them. Whenever a camera was pointed at me, I closed my mouth. Even on my wedding day, I didn’t show my teeth. I was really happy, but it doesn’t show in the photos.

It wasn’t until I was at the dentist with my 15-year-old daughter that things changed. When they recommended she was fitted with a brace, she was hesitant. I didn’t want my beautiful girl to go through life hiding her smile like I had, so I encouraged her to go ahead. I was in my 40s by then and, as we talked about the possibility of her having a brace fitted to correct her teeth, I realised it wasn’t too late for me. ‘How about we do this together?’ I suggested.

There are so many options out there

If you’re unhappy with your smile for any reason, there’s always something you can do about it. Good dental hygiene is easier than ever, thanks to ever-smarter electric toothbrushes and tools such as TePe Interdental Brushes, which make daily cleaning between the teeth incredibly simple. Teeth whitening is also so much more accessible now.

And there are lots of different types of brace to choose from if you’re interested in straightening. My dentist talked to me about clear aligners, which are virtually invisible. In the end, for financial reasons, I decided to go for a regular fixed metal brace, which I wore for 18 months.

You’re not alone

Once I started on my journey, I discovered many of my friends and acquaintances had, or were planning on getting, an adult brace. It’s so much more common than it used to be. (In fact, 80% of UK orthodontists have reported an increase in adult patients.) If I’d known this before, I’d have been more keen to get one sooner.

A good dental hygiene routine is essential

It’s really important to clean in between the brace, not just for your teeth but for healthy gums too. I had some bleeding when I brushed, so my dentist recommended using TePe Interdental Brushes to clean between the teeth and around the wires. After doing it religiously once a day, my gums were much healthier.

I’ve continued to use TePe brushes since getting my brace off and always will – after spending so much time getting the smile I want, I plan on looking after it. I have permanent retainers on the back of my teeth, so the brushes are invaluable for cleaning where I can’t floss. But even if you don’t have any wires, they reach the places your usual toothbrush can’t. Regular brushing is important, but this only cleans up to 60% of your teeth. TePe Interdental Brushes take care of the other 40%.

One of the other tips my dentist gave me when I had my brace removed is when you’re cleaning your teeth, you need to brush around each tooth individually. Most people brush them as if they’re one block. That really stuck with me.

Confidence in your smile is life-changing

adult braces

Samantha Priestley

The day I had my brace removed was amazing. I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s only since I’ve had straight teeth and I’ve been taking better care of them that I’ve realised what an important decision it was. When I went back to my orthodontist for the last time, I said to him, ‘You’ve changed my life.’ It sounds dramatic but it’s true. Having a healthy smile means that as I get older, I will always have that core confidence in the way I look. I don’t need to hide anymore.

TePe Interdental Brushes are recommended by 94% of UK dental hygienists* — find out more at tepe.com

*Source: A survey of 201 dental hygienists in the UK, Ipsos (2019)

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https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/health/health-advice/a39748974/i-got-a-brace-in-my-40s-and-this-is-what-i-learned/