Let me tell you about a transformation that hit me at that wonderfully awkward stage: the teenage years. Now if we’re completely honest, there are very few people at that age who can genuinely be described as beautiful or good looking at that age; most of us have moved out of that slightly chubby cheeked cute childhood stage, but we haven’t quite muddled our way through to the fully formed adult stage yet either. Like a puppy who doesn’t quite realise how fast it can run or how loud it can bark, I was like most other teenagers, save in one aspect: my teeth.
How I longed for teeth that looked like those of my peers! Nice, neat, white, shining pearls that stood in straight little lines all the way across one jaw and along another – those were the teeth that I wanted, that I craved – but they were certainly not the teeth that I got. No, my lot was to have slightly misshapen teeth that didn’t really sit end to end that happily, with a few too many on my top jaw and a few too few on my lower. As I moved through my teenage years they only got worse as more of my wisdom teeth came through at the back, pushing the others forward at an angle.
But I survived, and I did what all teenagers do when they are not happy about part of their appearance: they hide it as best they can, and they long desperately for a way to change the situation (whether it be possible or not). As for me, I learned to smile with my lips pulled tight together, and how to talk and eat without opening my jaw too widely. Nothing was too difficult, as long as I could make sure that my teeth weren’t showing, and I got through college and through my first job with this exact same mentality. In many ways, I had not really moved on from being a teenager at all.
But modern orthodontics had. After a chance meeting with a friend who recommended her, I sat down with Dr Paige Woods who is a fully trained orthodontist, and I finally heard the words that I had been longing to hear for over a decade: “I can change your teeth.” – while what I heard, of course, was “I can change your life.” What I didn’t realise then was that Dr Woods was fully trained in a new branch of orthodontics that would give me adult braces that can barely be seen
, even when I was wearing them. Within a year my teeth would be completely corrected, and for the majority of that time many of my friends and colleagues probably wouldn’t even realise that I was wearing them.
And you know what: she was totally right. I was terrified that some of my clients – I work in law, so the expectation of professionalism is incredibly high – would notice, but if they did, they didn’t mention it. They clearly weren’t bothered, or even that interested in looking at my teeth with any sort of proximity that I was concerned about. For something that had plagued me for the best part of my life, orthodontics only took twelve months and no one else seemed that aware that they were there.
The day that I walked into a family party with straight, healthy, pearly teeth without any braces whatsoever was a real turning point in my life. The excited cries and exclamations from my loved ones made it even better, and I didn’t even cringe when they brought out the old family albums to compare me to ‘before me’. Because you know what? That girl? She’s not me anymore.