Having braces in middle school and high school is nothing out of the ordinary; most people go through their braces phase in adolescence, but what if for one reason or another you find yourself needing braces during adulthood?
It’s probably not an enticing prospect, and you can feel out of place among other adults who already went through their braces phase. How do you reconcile having braces during college, where most other students aren’t sporting a metal mouth anymore? It’s not as scary or uncomfortable as you might think.
Here are four reasons why having braces in college is not a big deal.
1. The attitude about other people’s appearances is way more casual than in high school.
In high school, people are more judgmental of other people’s outward appearances than in college. There’s just more time on high school students’ hands where they can care about that girl’s vintage skirt or that guy’s bad haircut.
There might be some people who still are judgmental in college, but those individuals are fewer and far in between. Most college students are way more focused on themselves and their studies instead of what the person next to them is wearing. It’s almost as if the stress of college has students forming a mutual understanding that wearing pajamas to class is fine. Everyone is so stressed about exams that they support your fashion choice to wear the Pikachu onesie, because let’s face it, they’re wearing their own onesies.
The point is, even if someone notices you’re wearing braces, they honestly won’t care. It’s just another facet of your outward appearance that is overshadowed by all the other stresses to worry about. Plus, it is possible for braces to look good, even if they make you seem a little younger. So don’t worry about how other people view your appearance if you have braces in college, because I guarantee your fellow students are much less concerned about your teeth and more interested in whether you found the homework as equally confusing as they did.
2. People probably won’t even notice until they get to know you.
One girl in my class junior year of college had a full set of metal braces, and I didn’t notice until the fourth week of school. The fourth week. We talked almost every day, and the fact that she had braces just didn’t register.
The only reason I noticed is that our professor was passing around Starburst, and the girl didn’t want any because they would get stuck in her braces. Finally I realized what was on her teeth and was amazed I hadn’t noticed sooner.
I wasn’t the only one either who didn’t discover them until later. Your personality and the way you interact with people will be what they notice, not what’s on your teeth. Students will focus more on what your overall vibe is, where you are shy or outgoing, goofy or studious. They won’t be hyper-focused on your teeth when you smile, but they will be focused on how awesome you are.
Even when people do eventually acknowledge your braces, it will most likely be nothing more than “I didn’t even realize you had braces!” and you’ll both move on to more important topics, like whether or not your professor was fair in giving you a B on your last assignment.
3. Adults with braces are way more common than you’d think.
Did you know one in five of orthodontic patients are adults? That means 1.5 million adults in the U.S. are getting orthodontic treatment, and the number keeps rising. It’s respectable to make a commitment to your dental health, and other adults will understand.
You’ll probably even encounter another student in college who has braces, and it would be a great way to bond instantly. If you’re a little self-conscious about having braces, chances are the other person is as well, and you can reassure each other.
In fact, it will become one more way you can connect with others. You’ll find that adults getting orthodontic work is common, and that you don’t stand out as much as you might think you do in a college environment. Students without braces will respect your decision to perfect your smile, and students with braces will bond with you over the fact that neither of you can eat Starburst.
4. There are less noticeable braces options if you’re still self-conscious.
Of course, sporting a full-on metal mouth can be intimidating, especially for freshman undergraduates who want to make good first impressions or for juniors who are interviewing for internships. There are other, more discreet braces options to choose from if you seek them out.
Many times, these discreet options can be more expensive than traditional metal braces, but there are orthodontists who won’t charge more because they understand the importance of appearances to their patients. It’s likely you don’t want people to know you’re wearing braces more for your own self-confidence than the fear that anyone would actually make fun of you.
The three most popular discreet braces options are Invisalign, clear ceramic brackets and lingual braces (braces behind the teeth). They’re all good options if you don’t want people to know that you have braces, but like I said above, even full-on metal braces aren’t a big deal.
Whether your family couldn’t afford them when you were younger or you didn’t wear your retainer, if you need braces during adulthood there’s no need to stress. Braces are a privilege if you can afford them, and they will not hinder your college experience. Attending college with any type of braces won’t change the fact that you’re there for an education, and really, isn’t two or so years of braces worth it for a lifetime of a perfect smile?