I’ve mentioned many times before on my blog that a significant part of my original $13K consumer debt is from my earlier shopaholic ways, but what I haven’t yet talked about was how I chose to invest in myself and wore braces as a young adult.
Growing up, my teeth were never that crooked that it prevented me from smiling with my mouth open, and the dentist always told me that if I ever chose to wear braces, it would mainly be a cosmetic reason; however, they were crooked enough to hurt my fragile female adolescent self-esteem.
I remember countless fights with my mom, crying and begging her to get me braces and I feel sick to my stomach now remembering the tears in her eyes as she told me her and my dad simply couldn’t afford it. Of course, as a young teenager, I always knew that my family of 6 was dirt poor, but I guess my parents did such a good job of providing us kids with our basic needs and some wants that I felt like they were being mean in not giving into my pleas of wanting straight teeth. Note to parents: Kids do grow out of their bratty behavior and turn into appreciative grown ups as I am a prime example of that.
When I graduated from University, I applied for a substitute teaching position back in my hometown, so I decided to move back in with my parents to save some money. Since I was making decent money as a substitute teacher, this was the time I also decided to get braces! So at the age of 25, I went into my first consultation with the best orthodontist in town. It wasn’t much of a competition since I come from a small town of 25K people and there were only 2 orthodontists to choose from.
As a substitute teacher, I didn’t have dental coverage so everything was going to come out of my own already deep-in-student-loan-debt pocket. At the consultation, I learned that I only had to put down a 15% non-refundable deposit and pay the rest of the $8,500 cost with monthly payments over the span of 2 years. I was sold.
My biggest financial mistake was putting the initial deposit and monthly payments on credit card when I should have given them pre-authorized payments through my bank account. Technically, I was making enough money to afford the braces, but rather than pay off my credit card right away when the monthly payments went through, I used my money on other stupid, frivolous things like clothes/shoes/makeup/beauty/hair etc. So shameful, but that’s another story, another time.
What’s it like to wear braces as an adult? Well in one word – AWKWARD!
It didn’t help that because I am also petite and look young, I was often mistaken as a student while I was substitute teaching. The middle school kids did think it was cool that I wore braces like 75% of them though.
Braces are awful. They don’t look attractive. Elastics are the most painful thing ever invented for the mouth. Getting my wires tightened every month or so made a grown woman like me whimpered in pain. I didn’t smile for pictures. I felt self-conscious to the extreme at times. I thought I would naturally lose weight because eating would be more painful – I didn’t. And my dating life literally became non-existent for the 2 years I wore them.
Would I do it all over again if I had to? YOU BETCHA!
It’s been 3 years since I had my braces taken off and as cheesy as it sounds – I can’t stop smiling!
Nowadays people tell me my smile is my best feature (aside from my high cheekbones!) and even though I’m probably still paying interest for those damn braces years ago, the confidence my new smile has given me is priceless! (almost) Along with other dental work that I had to have done before my braces were even on, I spent over $10K (and counting) on my teeth alone.
For any adults out there – young or old who have thought about getting braces – I say DO IT! Just don’t put it on credit like I did! Or if you do, then pay off your credit card bill on time. Good news is – my consumer debt which is currently sitting at around $6K should be all paid off by end of 2013 but my straight teeth will last a lifetime! Which reminds me, I should probably be wearing that sexy retainer more often at night…
Anyone else wear braces as a young adult? What was your experience like?