14 Jun

It’s no surprise that I have crooked teeth. I am not happy about it. I would change it if I could. When I was in primary school, it became apparent that my teeth were very crowded. I had to wear a plate which was very uncomfortable and was told that in order to straighten my teeth now would be the perfect time to have braces.

I grew up in a single parent family without much money.  Despite this, my Mum was in a situation where she was potentially able to purchase a small holiday house, going in with a friend. This decision for her depended entirely on whether or not she had to spend money on my braces. So she asked me what I thought she should do. A 12 year old girl.

I had been convinced that a holiday house would give us a great lifestyle and holidays that all of us could enjoy. It was then implied that the braces would be a selfish and superficial choice, focussing on surface level appearance which is not important. I was told that I was beautiful the way I was and that people will love me for my personality rather than my looks anyway.

You can probably guess which choice I made. It also helped that I was very scared of getting braces. So at the time it was a fairly easy decision. But a few months later, I started getting bullied for having crooked teeth. Thankfully primary school was almost over but I was still referred to as “Rattus” by most of my classmates from that point forward. Even when I saw them again years later.

As it turned out, my Mum reassessed her finances and was not able to purchase the house she and her friend wanted without us relocating so our home could be rented out… so I didn’t get braces or a beach house. But I didn’t really care about the beach house.

You might be wondering why having crooked teeth even bothers me, I have amazing friends, a successful business and a loving partner. But I don’t feel as though I can smile or even talk confidently because of it. Every time I have my photo taken I have to try and conceal my teeth. And every time I meet someone new I am terribly nervous that they will notice how childish and ugly my smile is. It doesn’t matter how you try to convince me that this isn’t true. I still believe it.

In my early 20’s I vowed to make a change, to pay for my own braces. So I went to an orthodontist for a quote and was told that my crowding is so bad that I would need to have several teeth removed in order to even make room for the straightening to occur. On top of this I was given a price tag of around ten thousand dollars (more than double the price that my Mum was given nearly 15 years prior). So again, I was faced with the reality that this was out of reach for me and I guess I gave up. I am however determined to one day have the means to fix my teeth for good.

As my daughter’s teeth grow, I am seeing that even her baby teeth are coming through crooked and I know what the future has in store for her. Thankfully these days, there are improved approaches to straightening children’s teeth meaning that braces may not even be needed. Even though I agree with letting children make their own decisions, I will certainly be encouraging her to have the courage her teeth straightened. Although superficial, being able to smile genuinely and from the heart without worrying about your appearance is something that I would like my child to be able to experience, because up until now in my life, I still don’t know what that feels like.


One Response to “Crooked”

  1. Casey Conroy June 14, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    Hey, I loved this post!! I totally related to it, although it’s not something you or I have even discussed before. Not once have I ever noticed your teeth during the 2-ish years I have known you, but don’t worry I’m not going to try to convince you you’re beautiful despite your perception of your smile (I already know you are beautiful!) How awful that you were called names as a kid, I know what that’s like too – it’s shit.

    Being half asian, half caucasian, I have the dental profile of an Indo-European with a Chinese head. As a kid, that translated to some serious logistical issues when it came to fitting all the required teeth into my head.

    When I was 9 my mum took me to the dentist, who gave me the dreaded news that I would definitely need some teeth removed and braces in order to avoid the dreaded imperfect smile.

    My family couldn’t afford to get me braces either, but I did get teeth removed – 6 of them, including three adult ones. It was a horrible experience that made me even more scared of needles than I already was. Having a needle in your arm is one thing. Having 6 in your mouth is quite another.

    Those bloody hours in the chair “fixed” the problem for a while but as I grew into an adult my wisdoms came through and my whole mouth is now crowding again. Without ongoing dental work things are starting to look exactly as they did as a pre-chair child. Still, I’ve decided not to do anything about it for now. That means keeping my 4 relatively new wisdom teeth planted exactly as they are in my overcrowded jaw.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to movie star smiles, there are no absolute guarantees, no perfect endings and no place for dentists in my home. By the way, feed Dottie a wholefoods based, traditional diet and she’ll have a greater chance of her teeth coming through more evenly – google any research done by Weston Price.

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