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"I was too old for braces, I thought. I’ve missed my chance."

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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.

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More than anything else, I’m a baby-faced adult with a high-pitched voice. Once, when I was a 26-year-old full time journalist at a major Australian newspaper I got in a cab to go to a press conference and the cab driver asked me if I was a high schooler on work experience.

It’s really hard to avoid being photographed, and having your terrible teeth telegraphed to the entire world via Instagram. Image: iStock.

It took the rest of the trip for him to be convinced I was over 20. This is something my mother tells me I will appreciate more and more as I get older, but honestly, all I can think is that if I got braces I would constantly be treated like a child.  So I’ve lived with this crooked, slightly annoying tooth partially out of fear that yet another person will fail to take me seriously because they think I’m a kid.

While I am looking for a solution that won’t age me down, other people are looking for a straight-toothed smile to do exactly that. Perfect pearlers can make you look up to seven years younger, which I know is a big benefit for many people.

As we move in this increasingly selfie-obsessed world the truth is, no matter how hard you try it’s really hard to avoid being photographed, and having your terrible teeth telegraphed to the entire world via Instagram and Facebook.

Why not just sort it out?

They are comfortable, removable and virtually invisible. Image: Supplied. 

It’s a confidence thing as much as anything else. Sixty per cent of young Australian women believe having a great smile helps you get a job, and four in five think it helps guarantee you success at work.

So for a while now I’ve thought about asking my dentist about getting Invisalign aligners, because it seems to me they are the perfect solution. No one would be able see them so they wouldn’t age me down, and they’d fix that niggling, annoying tooth quickly, and without much fuss.

Invisalign treatment consists of a series of virtually invisible, removable aligners that are changed every two weeks to gradually move your teeth without everyone noticing. They are comfortable, removable and virtually invisible, and work little by little, week by week to create the straighter smile that you’ve been after.

This would mean I could get on with things, and hopefully not be mistaken for a teenager ever again.

Sounds like a win win.

Do you know many people getting work on their teeth?

Disclaimer: The view expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of Align Technology, the maker of Invisalign aligners. Invisalign treatment requires a prescription. Invisalign-trained doctors will advise if Invisalign treatment is suitable for you. 

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