WARNING: Please be informed that this post contains photos of my teeth and mouth. Take a moment first before reading. You can also visit my travel posts and finance posts.
A smile can change a person’s appearance in a lot of ways. We sometimes describe people by the way they smile. “She has a very beautiful smile”, we sometimes say. How we look at smile can be defined by the presence of a person’s dimples or their white straight teeth.
Nonetheless, having straight teeth can be an asset to a person. It boosts up one’s confidence to interact with people and become more sociable towards others.
If for some reason, your teeth are not straight as it should be, braces are the fix to the problem. Braces will align the teeth with the use of wires and elastic bands. It will push and pull your teeth so it’ll move to where it should be.
Typically, the best time to get braces is during your teenage years or even during grade school. For one, the bones are still soft and the head and mouth are still growing, allowing the teeth to quickly move. The second reason is that students’ lives are rather simple focusing only on home and school. Unlike when you are an adult, you already have jobs and responsibilities that you need to attend to.
The story of my Teeth
I was told that when I was a small kid, I had these cute tiny teeth but after those baby teeth were gone, they were replaced with these big permanent teeth that I have now. In effect, my teeth were crowded causing them to be crooked.
Additionally, growing up I had these two prominent vampire-like teeth of my lateral incisors in my upper mouth. It was the first thing that people noticed when I smile or open my mouth. Because of it that I grew up a little timid and shy. I even received advice from my relatives to not show my teeth when I laugh which was hard for me since I love to laugh and my laugh is this kind like “there is no tomorrow laugh”, you know?!
During my high school years, more and more students were getting braces and I envied them. I know it’s expensive so I didn’t dare ask my grandmother (Mommy) about it. This was when she was having trouble finding money to even pay for my miscellaneous fees for my school. Good thing my tuition fees are fully covered by my academic scholarship. I knew money was tight at that time. So, I didn’t want to cause any more problems. I just accepted how my teeth looked.
Though I say that it’s okay, there were quite a few times I dreamt and wished of having a perfect smile. Then comes college when physical appearance is very important. I had insecurities over my teeth and so I asked my parents for it but I was rejected a few times because life was tougher at that time too. They were sending all of us four children in school.
My college photos showing my teeth when I smile.
1st Braces and How I Afforded it
My parents couldn’t help me with my braces so I decided to find a way myself. I sold snacks to my classmates at the University. Every day, I would bring this big paper bag with snacks on it in school and I sold it to my classmates. Studies were tough during college so they sometimes forgot to eat breakfast and so they bought my snacks instead. Apart from that, I sold Avon and Natasha products. Ha! Luckily, my classmates were very supportive because they kept on buying my products. =)
I saved up a bit from this mini business of mine. Then, I found a small dental clinic near my University in the city. The dentist extracted my right first molar because it has a serious problem of a cavity.
Cost of braces in the Philippines
After extraction, I inquired about braces. The price was 30,000- 40,000 PHP for both upper and lower teeth. It was still expensive for me. I did bargain and asked if it was okay to only have braces on the upper teeth and she said yes.
For six months, I had braces on. The fee was cheaper which was only half of the total package. It was my first braces experience. True to its purpose, my upper teeth straightened. I was so happy because my vampire’s teeth were gone which was my ultimate goal at the time.
Straight Teeth Failed
After my upper teeth were aligned, the next step was to wear a retainer to make sure that the teeth will stay in place.
I religiously did that for a few months until I worked as a customer service agent. I had to talk for the most part of my day and having retainer was very uncomfortable. It also affected my speech so I gradually remove my retainers until I didn’t put it on anymore.
So guess what happened? My teeth started to move merrily and it was not straight again. Tsk tsk!
2nd Time Braces
My two incisors are not aligned but they were not as worse looking as before. I was quite okay with that for a few years. I did start to worry about my teeth again when I felt something uncomfortable on my lower teeth. My lower teeth were crooked as well but I didn’t mind it because it does not show when I smile. Another problem I noticed is blood when I brush my teeth and an awful smell in my mouth which confirms a possible tooth cavity and bacterial accumulation in my mouth.
So when I first went to a dentist, she can’t find any cavity but she suggested to have my teeth cleaned instead. During my visit, I also asked about braces since I saw their promotion outside their clinic which showed 35,000 Baht. She explained it to me and my desire for a perfect smile sparked again.
As frugal as I am, deciding to have braces was a long process. I had to weigh my decision and asked myself if this is really beneficial to me. Ultimately, I did come up with convincing reasons to have the braces back.
Reasons for Braces on my late Twenty’s
First, I want to have this straight and perfect teeth so when I smile, I don’t need to cover it with my hand and I can just laugh with open mouth as much as I want. People who have teeth problems are usually not confident and they tend to shy away.
Second, having braces will not only fix my problem with the overcrowding of my teeth. Crowded teeth can also cause cavity, bad breath and gum infection. Because of my crooked teeth, I can’t floss or brush it properly which then leave the bacteria in my mouth alive and happy.
Are braces truly worth it?
Third, I asked the question, “Is it really worth it to spend my money on the braces?”. My answer to this was “Yes”. Although the late ’20s is not the ideal time, it is the only time that I can afford to pay for it. I am still single with no big responsibilities whatsoever so why not spend it on something that will ultimately benefit me for a long time. I just thought of it as my “personal investment”. Obviously, I have to spend money for 1-2 years but when my teeth are fixed and done, it can’t beat the level of confidence that I will have. And maybe, I will get more opportunities in the future that will let me earn more money because of my new self-confidence.
Fourth, my college graduation photo was horrible. Do you have this photo that you hang on the wall so people know that you completed your degree? I had mine in our house but I seldom looked at it because my teeth were so obvious. They say it was fine but I know people who looked at it were just kind to me. Looking back at that moment, I want to be as presentable as I can be when my photo will be taken for special events. What will my wedding pictures look like or family pictures? I don’t want to have that awkward smile ever again.
Lastly, the payment scheme for braces in Thailand is better than in the Philippines. With the clinic that I have, I have the option to pay 3,000 or 4,000 Baht/ month for 6 months and pay 1,000 Baht/month for the remaining months until the braces will be removed. Although, the first few clinics I went to rejected me because I was a foreigner and they were scared that I will take off. But this clinic just asks me if I plan to stay in Thailand for the duration of the braces and after I said “yes”, it was all agreed.
Steps to Getting Braces in Thailand
I know it’s all different from every clinics or country. This is how I did at my clinic in Thailand.
1. First Check-up
This is the time when your dentist will take a look at your teeth and diagnose the problems. They will also do some cleaning first and if they find cavities, they’ll suggest filling or in my case extraction of teeth. My teeth were crowded in the lower part so it was suggested that one tooth will be removed since it was really not doing anything. I didn’t even use it when eating.
According to my dentist, it is a must to also have a view of the root canal of my teeth. This is to make sure that there are no problems with my teeth especially the position of the wisdom teeth. Apparently, if my wisdom teeth will be a problem during the application of braces, I will have it extracted as well. Good thing, they were all fine.
The clinic didn’t have their own x-ray machine so I was referred to go to big hospitals. My x-ray was worth 1,000 Baht in Thonburi Hospital and I got the x-ray result on the same day.
3. Impression and Photo
Bring the x-ray to your dentist for them to analyze it. If it’s all good, this is the time they’ll take a photo of your mouth and even ask you to smile. Then, they’ll take your dental mold. Basically, they’ll let you bite something for a few minutes and it’ll form somewhat like your teeth.
After all of these are done, I was then passed to another dentist in charge of extracting my tooth. I was a little scared though I already experienced it before. I was worried about removing a healthy tooth. Though, after the extraction, I found out that the tooth had cavities from the inside. Eww!
I was asked to return after a week to have the braces installed.
4. Braces on
After a week, I went back to have my braces installed. I chose what color to put on the braces. My advice is to put a lip balm during this procedure because you will have to open your mouth for a long time that’ll make your lips dry.
After that, be ready for the pain. It’ll be difficult for the first weeks especially when eating. Soft foods will be your choice of food during this time. It was really painful for me too that I remember avoiding talking for days just as not to touch my teeth. Just remember that it will all get better and the result will be worth every pain.
Photo after 2 months of braces. (Please excuse the dry lips.)
3 Months with the braces on.
Do you have braces?
Do you think it’s worth it to have braces even on 20’s?
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