Deciding on Dental Work

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I got some bad news the other day from my dentist: he thinks that I need braces. My parents are willing to pay for it, but that’s not really the issue for me (I mean, it is–I don’t think I could afford this on my own–but there’s something that’s bigger that’s holding me back). The thing is, these are my prime years, and I don’t want to walk around looking like a goofy middle-schooler in braces.


It’s up to me in the end what happens here, but I’m feeling really torn. What sort of consequences are there to foregoing dental work? What should I do?


We get it: in college, your social life matters a lot! On the other hand, your dental health is important, too. So what’s the deal–can you put off braces, or avoid them altogether, safely?


In general, it’s not a good idea to put off dental work–much less skip it altogether. Morristown, New Jersey dentists told us that dental problems, like many other health-related issues, tend to get worse over time. The best way to get the minimum amount of dental work done is, generally speaking, to get the work done right away!


With that said, we’re not here to offer you dental advice. This column may be called “Ask the Experts,” but we’re not privy to the details of your specifical dental situation, and it would not be appropriate for us to weigh in with anything other than very general observations.


The truth is, you’ve already asked an expert about your teeth: your dentist. He told you to get braces, and now you’re looking for better answers. Unfortunately, the only way to get a second opinion that matters is to go to a second dentist!


That may not be necessary, though. You seem on the fence about this, which suggests that your dentist has either not made the consequences clear or has indicated that braces would serve a minor or cosmetic purpose for you. Here’s our advice: speak to your dentist again, and let them explain to you exactly what is at stake here. If there’s a risk of serious bite problems and other issues beyond the cosmetic, this decision will likely be easy.


While you’re chatting with your dentist, you may also want to bring up invisalign and other, similar options for braces. Invisalign braces are a modern alternative to the clunky traditional braces that you seem to be referencing in your letter, and you may be surprised by just how discreet braces can look when you go with a solution like this. If your dentist and your parents are on board with that idea, you may be able to get your teeth fixed without having to worry about the cosmetic consequences of traditional braces while you’re in college.


“Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.” — Yoko Ono