I used to think I was lucky. When I was in high school a lot of my friends had braces. My teeth, although not perfect, were not bad enough for the dentist to insist on braces.
I remember him peering into my mouth after he’d fitted my front teeth with caps after my face met a concrete footpath on a rainy afternoon. My dad had just spent a lot on those caps, and was keen to know what else he’d have to pay for.
“No,” the dentist said. “She’s got a bit of a crooked one over here,” he used that little metal hook to tap a tooth on my lower jaw that was squished marginally sideways, “But it’s not a problem, she’ll be fine without them”.
Thank you dentist man, 13-year-old me internally squealed.
Over the years I watched as friends got braces, got better teeth and moved on.
Meanwhile that little sideways tooth pushed further out of place, twisting not just in its place, but also shifting the alignment of two of my top teeth.
"My teeth, although not perfect, were not bad enough for the dentist to insist on braces." Image: iStock.
By the time my wisdom teeth came through in my early 20s, it was definitely, decidedly crooked. But I never imagined doing anything about it. I was too old for braces, I thought. I’ve missed my chance.
Then, in my mid 20s, suddenly friends began turning up wearing braces. A good friend first, then another friend’s boyfriend, and even one friend’s boss.
Adults were getting braces, and it totally surprised me. But I watched them come through the other side with perfect smiles and I was really jealous.
Still, I didn’t want to do it.
My tooth wasn’t that bad, and everything I’d seen and heard about tooth realignment in my teens had not endeared it to me.