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I have a problem.

This year is the 40th anniversary of my birth {cough** cough** sputter*} and I am faced with the option of whether or not to get braces…again. *sigh*

I wasn’t like most teens.

I did not have braces when I was in middle school. My parents couldn’t afford them. They were both blue-collar workers who did not have dental insurance {or maybe they didn’t have orthodontic insurance because we always were at dentist twice a year}. Fortunately, I didn’t have any major bite issues…just crooked teeth…that I hated.

The Past

I think because I always wanted straight teeth, the first thing I noticed when I met people was their smile.  After I got married, I decided I was going to straighten my teeth and have the smile I always dreamed of. At the ripe old age of 25, I got braces. Unfortunately, the military dental insurance didn’t pay a cent for my “cosmetic” dental appliances since I was a dependent and not the soldier. We ended up paying the $4000+ bill.

When I got my braces removed, the orthodontist expected a huge reaction to my new look, but I did not react accordingly. Instead, I looked at my newly straightened teeth and wondered why they didn’t look how I imagined them. I just brushed it off as being too vain and accepted them as they were.

The Present

Fast forward 14 years and one morning I realized my top retainer had broken. I wear them every so often since I tend to clench my teeth at night. I also have a night guard to help ward off headaches from the clenching.

I brought the broken retainer to my daughter’s orthodontist appointment. He took a look at them and then asked me a question that shocked me, “Do you like the way your teeth look?”

No one had ever asked me that after I had my braces removed. I honestly told him I did not. He then took a quick look at my teeth and said that he could replace the retainer, but the alignment of my teeth were off. It was a matter of whether or not I wanted to pay the money to replace the retainer or straighten out the alignment {and the bite} first and then get a new retainer.

The Decision

In the past when I have asked about the clenching and my horrible TMJ, I have been told that I would have to go into a full set of braces to fix that problem. To me, that meant a huge amount of money that I was not willing to pay again.

This orthodontist told me that I wouldn’t need a full set of braces and I would only need them for a short amount of time.

I looked into my insurance and was pleasantly surprised that they would pay a maximum of $2000 for orthodontic care. Woo Hoo!!!  This is the first time we have had orthodontic coverage for adults!

Yesterday, I went in for a consult an discovered that my out-of-pocket cost would be about $83 a month for a year. I would only have braces for about 10-12 months. That is a small price to pay to alleviate the headaches and possibly fix the TMJ.

Do I fix the issues that the previous orthodontist left behind or do I leave it? Should I bite the bullet and get them now? Do I wait until after my birthday and get braces at 40?

What would you do if you had the option?