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Brace Yourself for Online Dating Success
by Colleen M. Flanagan


Adding a photo to your online ad may increase the number of replies you receive, yet many singles don’t post pics because they don’t like the way they look. Some are embarrassed by the condition of their teeth and think a photo will deter rather than attract potential mates. On dates, these same folks often smile with pursed lips. When laughing, they self-consciously cover their mouth with their hands, not realizing they are bringing more attention to what they hope to hide. Still, the imagined horror of years in braces exceeds the shameful situation in their mouth.

Are you someone who wishes you could flash a Hollywood smile in an online photo or on your next date? Instead of trying to hide your dental woes, why not invest in your health and brace yourself for online dating success?

Misaligned Teeth Contribute to Health Issues

Maybe you have a dental phobia, your parents could not afford orthodontia or you stubbornly refused to wear braces as a teen. Whatever the reason, you and your dentist may be noticing frequent new cavities, reoccurring gum disease, cracked teeth, jaw popping or a cross-bite causing uneven wear on your molars.

Orthodontia is not only about a bright smile, but correctly aligned teeth are imperative to your body’s digestion and heart health. Digestion begins in the mouth. If your crooked teeth are not chewing food properly or long enough, your body cannot secrete the digestive juices necessary to absorb the vitamins and minerals from each meal. Even more daunting than poor digestion, a 1997 study presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science stated that gum disease bacteria may trigger blood clots that can contribute to a heart attack or stroke. Infections in the mouth may wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.

Orthodontia Objections

Still feeling hesitant about checking out your orthodontic options? The below replies to singles’ common objections to “spending years behind bars in orthodontic jail” may help:

Objection: No one will want to date a metal mouth—I can’t be a dateless nerd for years.
Most people think that adults with braces should be commended for their self-improvement efforts. Singles “in jail” say that they feel shy about smiling at first but when their teeth start moving into alignment, they can’t stop beaming in public. You may notice your facial profile changing for the better and that people think you’re much younger. One unmarried woman reported that a store manager requested her ID to buy a bottle of wine for her thirty-fifth birthday! Celebrity orthodontic patients Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Gwen Stefani and Cher wore their brackets with pride and proved to the world that adult metal mouths are sexy!

Objection: Okay, even if I do find someone to date, they won’t want to kiss a mouth of metal and wires.
Active singles with braces reveal that kissing feels a bit different, but it’s not a problem. Some orthodontists offer smaller brackets. Lingual braces, installed on the inside of your teeth, are an option as well as clear brackets. If you want to make a bold statement, manufacturers offer designer and jeweled braces as well as brightly colored rubber bands.

Objection: My longest relationship was only a few months—I don’t think I’m ready for this kind of a long term commitment.
Although adult teeth move slower than those of teenagers, orthodontic treatment varies with each patient and sometimes lasts only months rather than years. You may need only cosmetic dentistry and your smile can be fixed with porcelain veneers or crowns. Consult with your dentist on options other than braces.

Objection: I’ve been afraid of dentists since childhood and don’t want to be scolded for a lifetime of dental neglect.
Dental phobics, take heart. Modern dentists and orthodontists realize that kindness works far better than tough love on patients. Ask your friends or colleagues to recommend a dentist who specializes in gentle dentistry. Phone book ads or an online search may also display dentists who know how to put patients at ease in a variety of ways.

Objection: I’m too old for braces.
The American Association of Orthodontists state that “one in five orthodontic patients is an adult.” No one is too old for a straight smile, however if you wait too long, your oral condition may worsen beyond repair. Adults with severely receded gums or shallow teeth roots cannot be treated with orthodontics.

Objection: Braces are painful and you have to eat special food.
Taking over the counter pain relief right before your visit to have the braces tightened often results in less soreness afterwards. You should not eat certain foods that would dislodge the brackets or wires, such as chewy candy, nuts or ice. The orthodontist will give you a list of foods to avoid.

Objection: I can’t afford thousands of dollars for braces.

Orthodontic treatment costs vary due to length of treatment, cost of living in your location and the type of braces you select. Check out your employer’s dental plan to see if any percentage of adult orthodontia is covered. Most orthodontists offer a monthly payment plan to patients with or without orthodontic coverage.

Objection: I can’t take time off work for all those orthodontic appointments.

In the beginning, you’ll be seeing your orthodontist every two weeks but the appointments will become less frequent with the length of treatment. Many doctors now offer early morning or evening appointments so their adult patients don’t have to be absent from work too often or at all. Consider finding an orthodontist close to your office.

Singles’ Success Stories

Kevin, a never married IT executive in his mid-30’s, never wanted braces as he was afraid of “looking like a dud instead of a stud.” His dentist said his cross bite caused the constant accidental biting of the insides of his cheeks; his crooked teeth caused many cavities due to trapped food and bacteria.

As Kevin climbed the corporate ladder, he met intelligent, talented businesswomen but felt too embarrassed to request a date. When he saw a silver-haired, fifty-something senior vice president sporting braces at a company seminar, Kevin pulled him aside for a guy’s perspective on orthodontic treatment. “He told me he wished he hadn’t waited so long and encouraged me to go for it. He said women appreciate a guy trying to improve himself at any level.” Kevin began orthodontia and when his orthodontist removed the braces after 22 months, he couldn’t stop smiling.

Monique’s severe dental phobia kept her from dental treatment, despite her employer’s great dental benefits. When her husband divorced her for another woman, the now single mom in her forties decided that living well and looking sexy was the best revenge. Thanks to a friend’s referral, she found a female dentist who specialized in gentle dentistry and began extensive dental treatments. The idea of wearing braces horrified Monique until the dentist told her that she would lose her teeth and have to wear dentures.

“I found out that my company would pay a third of my orthodontia and I could pay the rest in monthly installments. I scheduled free consultations with three doctors and found one who understood my fears.” Monique’s treatment lasted two and a half years but she insists, “It was well worth it. I lost twenty-seven pounds as wearing braces caused me to cut my food into little pieces and chew it slowly. My confidence and self-esteem soared. I also enjoyed embarrassing my kids by wearing multi-colored rubber bands.” She reports that guys from all over the world reply to her online ad, some to simply write, “Great smile!”

The First Step to Your Success Story

Why agonize if a potential date mate will overlook your less than perfect smile? Take that first step to find orthodontists who participate in your dental plan or practice close to your home or job. Schedule complimentary consultations with each doctor until you find one you with whom you feel most comfortable, check their patients’ references then brace yourself for online dating success!

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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