When I first thought about getting braces – again, in my 40’s – a lot of people thought I was crazy.
“But your teeth are straight!” they’d say.
“Didn’t you already have braces?” they’d (correctly) state.
“You’re seriously going to spend $$ on a few wonky teeth?” they’d question.
Well yes, yes I am.
Let me rewind. As an adolescent, I needed braces – badly. My teeth were crowded, I had an extreme overbite, and one tooth (sadly, in the front) was positioned at an unfortunate angle. However, my immigrant parents didn’t really see the need (nor have the money) for orthodontic treatment, so braces were put off until I could pay for a portion myself. This didn’t happen until I was 19 years old – one month before entering university.
Nothing like being a freshman with a mouth full of metal, eh?
Truthfully, I loved it. I had been insecure about my smile for so long; just the thought of having beautiful, straight teeth was enough to keep me euphoric about the experience in its entirety. And, when the braces did come off, this then 21-and-a-half year old felt like a million bucks. Nah – a TRILLION bucks. I had a permanent retainer attached behind my bottom teeth, and a removable retainer was created for my top teeth.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t wear my retainer. Maybe for the first two weeks… and then, NEVER.
It was my mid-thirties, about 15 years after orthodontic treatment, when I first noticed the gradual shifting in my top teeth. I was at a social media conference where they were offering free head shots, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. However, when the photo was sent to my phone, the only thing I noticed was that my front tooth – the tooth that previously lived at an unfortunate angle – had begun its pilgrimage back home.
Can you see it? Perhaps I should ask, if I hadn’t pointed it out, would you have seen it?
It bothered me… enough to raise my concerns with my husband. He scoffed; it was one tooth, barely noticeable. Hardly a reason to spend thousands of dollars for braces! It was a hard no from him. Wanting to believe he was right – it wasn’t THAT bad – I dropped the subject.
But, I never really forgot about it. For the next eight or nine years, I proceeded to photoshop my tooth into a straight position in almost every photo I took. I rarely gave a wide-mouth smile in videos for fear that my fraudulent fixes would soon be discovered. I was once again insecure about my smile – tragic, given I’d had previous orthodontic treatment.
Fast forward to last summer, when two things happened almost simultaneously: one, my older son Ryder looked like a candidate for braces, and two, my migrating tooth literally pulled away, causing a gap in the middle of my two front teeth. Madonna, I am not.
I had already waited almost a decade – was I really going to wait another 10 years to be confident in my smile? Moreover, did I want to be 54 years old, lamenting about my wonky tooth and overbite? Life is short, and your smile defines your face, your character. I decided it wasn’t up for discussion; I would once again have braces.
Selecting an orthodontist in Burlington was a no-brainer; every single person we asked recommended Bozek Milligan Orthodontics. I’m not exaggerating – I think eight out of the eight people we consulted with dropped their name. So, I made an appointment for Ryder and myself, once again bouncing with excitement at the thought of having straight teeth. Could I be the only person on earth so thrilled to get braces… twice?
Going into the appointment, I only had two must-haves:
1) Clear braces, clearly. I’m 44 years old; I’m not doing the metal thing.
2) Brackets over aligners.
Regarding 2), listen, I’m a realist. If I’d worn my retainer in the first place, I wouldn’t have been in this predicament. Allowing me the opportunity to pull out (or, yikes, not even put in) clear aligners was a recipe for disaster. And, speaking of recipes, as a food content creator, it made zero sense to continually remove aligners while I tasted the recipes I was developing. Nope – cement those brackets on, baby!
At our consultation, for the first time, we were introduced to LightForce – the world’s only fully personalized, 3D printed braces. I’m not going to lie – I was basically sold in the first five minutes, but that’s probably because I’m a fan of technology and innovation is my love language. Still, here’s how LightForce differs from traditional metal or clear brackets:
1) Standard wire and bracket treatment is a one size fits all approach; the bracket doesn’t fit teeth precisely and it doesn’t take into consideration the unique shape of individual teeth.
Getting standard wire and brackets would mean I’d essentially get the SAME innovation and quality of braces as I did in 1997. Like, that was never going to happen. On the other hand –
2) LightForce brackets are personalized and 3D printed to each patient’s individual tooth anatomy, with a custom prescription made uniquely for each patient’s condition. When you’re able to digitally customize every tooth movement, this can result in:
a. a potentially shorter treatment duration
b. fewer and shorter appointments, and
c. healthier orthodontic treatment outcomes
I was all in. The best part? The cost for LightForce was comparable to both metal brackets and clear aligners! If I remember correctly, they were priced at slightly more than metal and slightly less than aligners. I purchased a full treatment for Ryder and me.
Side note: I won’t deny that part of my motivation for getting braces with Ryder was to bond with my teen. We don’t have a lot in common anymore, and I hoped that going through treatment together would be a way to find common ground. I’d like to say it’s working.
Once we were on board, a digital scan of our heads was taken, followed by a digital treatment plan. I’ll admit I became overly excited when we were shown what our “after” could look like! More importantly, I felt good knowing that my treatment plan was fully customized to my needs, with every tooth movement preprogrammed from the onset. Next, our data was sent to a manufacturing facility in Boston, where the brackets were created using our digital blueprints. The development time from consultation to installation was a little over a month.
And then… at the end of August, they were on in a jiffy – the appointment only took about an hour! I had blocked off my entire calendar thinking it would take most of the morning… complete clown behaviour, but perhaps forgivable seeing that it had been over two decades since I wore braces.
I won’t lie – my teeth were tender for the first few days. Yet, totally manageable. I didn’t even need pain relief! But if I had to isolate one thing that was playing on my mind: I wanted to feel like myself. I didn’t want the braces to define me. As someone who appears on television and in social media, the way I present myself is integral to my brand, and I didn’t want my braces to become the main character.
Good news: I felt like me. I feel like me. In fact, I smile more now with my LightForce braces than I had prior to orthodontic treatment. It’s because I know I’m bettering myself, and I know how much I want this. I hope you continue to follow my journey because I will continue to share.
I also want to be ANOTHER person who recommends Bozek Milligan Orthodontics to readers in Halton and surrounding regions! Dr. Mel and her team are experts at LightForce, and every visit to the tooth spa (I gotta make it bougie, right?) brings me one step closer to achieving the results I’ve been dreaming of.