Self-esteem is so important, especially during the teenage years when you’re growing and developing and starting to become the person you’ll be as an adult. Having confidence can improve your school performance and your social life and also makes you more likely to seek out new experiences, set goals and stay motivated since you’re less afraid to try even if failure is a possibility.
In today’s social media-driven world, feeling secure in yourself is even more crucial than ever because you’re constantly seeing these “perfect” people and “perfect” lives portrayed in images, whether it’s based in reality or not. (FYI, they did not wake up like that. And many celebs/influencers you see once wore braces!) While using social media can have some drawbacks, surprisingly, it can also be a confidence booster.
A survey conducted by TODAY and AOL found that 65% of teen girls said selfies made them feel more confident and 40% of all teens, male and female, said social media helped them present their “best face to the world.” Considering our smile is one of the first things people notice about us and we’re all spending a lot more time on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc., a big motivator for seeking out orthodontic treatment is to get a gorgeous grin that you’re not afraid to show off.
While it’s easy to see the benefits of the outcome, we know while you’re in treatment, you might be hesitant to flaunt your brackets and wires. Hey, before Dr. Lee was a Coquitlam orthodontist, she was actually a patient herself and so was everyone else on the Evergreen Orthodontics team. We completely understand what you’re going through.
Even though you now have the online world to navigate, which poses some unique challenges, on the flip side, you get to reap the benefits of a ton of advances in orthodontics, including faster treatment times, more attractive options and even nearly invisible teeth-straightening solutions. To help you sail through treatment while continuing to smile IRL and in selfies, we’re sharing some tips for maintaining your confidence with braces in the digital age.
You Have Choices: Your Teeth-Straightening Options
The first step in setting yourself up for a positive experience with orthodontic treatment and feeling your best from start to finish is choosing the treatment that works for your lifestyle and personality. However, keep in mind that your set of teeth is as unique as your fingerprints. This means that one particular treatment may be better suited to your smile needs than another. The only way to find out if you’re a candidate for a certain treatment option is to have a consultation, so we can examine your mouth and take diagnostic records like x-rays and photos.
With that being said, the majority of the time, patients will have a few different treatment types to choose from. Here’s what we offer at Evergreen Orthodontics:
- Metal Braces: These aren’t the bulky, gleaming metal braces your parents may have had when they were teenagers. Today’s braces are smaller and way better looking. Braces consist of stainless steel brackets and wires that are secured in place by tiny elastics. They’re very effective for even complex cases and if you like to express your style, you can choose your elastic colours to complement your mood, school colours, the season or whatever you’d like.
- Clear Braces: Clear braces are awesome because they have the straightening power of metal braces but they’re a lot less noticeable as the translucent brackets blend in with your smile. The latest versions are more durable and don’t stain as easily.
- Self-Ligating Braces: These braces don’t require colour ties. Instead, the lightweight memory wires are held in place by a little door and thanks to a slide mechanism, the wires move on their own with your teeth.
- Lingual Braces: Lingual braces are cemented to the back of your teeth on the tongue side. They’re the least visible of any type of orthodontic treatment, Invisalign included. No one will be able to see them when you smile. They rely on brackets, wires and elastics like regular braces. Since they’re behind the teeth, they are a little harder to care for and keep clean, which is why they work better for older teenagers.
- Invisalign Teen: If the idea of brackets and wires makes you cringe, we do provide Invisalign Teen in Coquitlam and Vancouver. The smooth, clear, plastic aligners slip over your teeth kind of like an almost invisible mouthguard. However, unlike a mouthguard, the aligners are flexible, comfortable and created based on a digital scan of your mouth for a perfect fit. Most people won’t be able to tell you’re wearing them. You can take them out to brush, floss, eat, play your instrument or pose for a photo, so they’re super convenient.
You’re Not Alone
Braces and Invisalign often feel like a rite of passage for teenagers and they pretty much are considering approximately 80% of North American teens are currently receiving orthodontic treatment. Years ago, wearing braces wasn’t considered very cool and plenty of movies and television shows have depicted them as awkward. Thankfully, things have changed and braces are widely accepted and won’t have any effect on your social life.
Even traditional metal braces are sleeker, lighter and less obvious than they used to be (no more “metal mouth”) and Invisalign Teen and clear braces are extremely under the radar. Regardless of which option you choose, just take a look around you if you feel self-conscious and you’ll notice the better part of your peers are in the same boat. Consider it the perfect opportunity to use the official “smile with braces” emoji.
It’s not just your friends and classmates who are rocking orthodontic appliances either. There have been plenty of celebrities with braces and do you know what they have in common? They had zero problem smiling for the camera! Kendall Jenner, Niall Horan, Dakota Fanning (she also wore headgear), Gwen Stefani, Emma Watson, Beyonce, Prince Harry, Austin Mahone and Lourdes Leon all straightened their teeth with traditional metal braces or clear braces, while Justin Bieber went with Invisalign Teen.
How to Take Good Pictures With Braces
A study found that 92% of teenagers report going online daily and 89% said they use at least one social media site. To get back to the initial survey by TODAY and AOL we discussed, the feelings on social media were mixed. Even though 65% of teen girls said seeing their selfies on social media boosted their confidence, 55% of girls and 34% of boys stated that overall, social media made them feel more self-conscious about their appearance. 30% felt they always had to be camera-ready. In spite of the varied survey answers, experts have noted that selfies are a form of self-expression and let teens control the image they show to others, creating feelings of self-efficacy, which can be empowering.
Throw braces into the mix though and it may lessen that sense that you have control over your image. Yet, that’s not true. You’re just as stunning as you were before orthodontic treatment and you’re on your way to having your dream smile. Metal braces are still the most common type of orthodontic treatment, so you’re in the majority if you’re wearing them. Knowing how to take pictures like a pro will allow you to continue to put your best face forward.
Here’s some guidance that we hope will keep you smiling with braces:
- When you first get your braces put on, practice smiling in the mirror. Yes, it will feel weird but the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” thing really works. Eventually, you’ll gain confidence and taking photos with braces or just smiling in general will come naturally.
- Pack a kit to take to school or when you’re on the go that contains a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, floss threaders and a little mirror. When taking selfies with braces, there’s nothing worse than having food stuck in between your brackets. It’s important to brush after every meal or snack anyway because wearing braces makes it harder to keep your teeth clean, which in turn can lead to cavities. It’s a win-win. You’ll look great on Instagram and your teeth and gums will be healthy.
- Keep lip balm on hand. Dry lips tend to get caught on braces, which can cause already cracked skin to bleed or just make your smile look a little funny. Give your lips a dose of moisture before snapping pics.
- Speaking of lips, if you wear makeup, choosing the right lipstick shade will make a difference. Lipsticks with pink or blue-based undertones create the appearance of whiter teeth. Reds, berry hues and rosy pinks are all good options.
- Don’t force a smile. Try to relax your face and think of something funny right before the photo. Giggling will create a natural smile. If nothing amusing comes to mind, smile gently and slowly instead jumping into a full-on grin and having to hold it. Avoid saying “cheese” too as the resulting smile comes off fake.
- Stand up straight! Exude confidence and avoid a double chin with good posture. Lift your chest, keep your shoulders back and down, pull your belly button in and up, lift your chin and turn your head just ever so slightly to the side while still making eye contact with the camera (unless you’re going for that candid I’m-gazing-off-in-space-while-pondering-the-meaning-of-life look).
- Stay away from the flash. A camera’s flash creates intensely harsh lighting as do fluorescent lights. Try to find natural light when possible by standing near a window or, even better, going outdoors. Cloudy days offer the best lighting and you can take pictures anywhere and look great. If it’s sunny out, take photos in the shade.
- For selfies, don’t hold the camera high above you and point down and definitely don’t hold it below your face and angle it upward. Holding the camera or your phone in front of you angled just slightly down will produce the most flattering photos.
- Wondering how to smile with your mouth closed with braces? Don’t. A tight-lipped, completely closed-mouth smile doesn’t appear genuine. At the very least, keep your lips parted a bit, even for those selfies where you’re not smiling. It helps relax your face and gives the impression that you’re sincere.
Life Beyond Selfies
While the tips above will help your selfie game, actual confidence will enable you to feel amazing on and offline. The prevalence of other teenagers in orthodontic treatment does make it a little easier to come to terms with wearing braces or aligners. We’ve been seeing more and more kids and teens visit our office excited about starting treatment, knowing they’ll be like their friends and classmates. However, we’re well aware some people are naturally shy and don’t like to draw more attention to themselves and others worry about how they’ll be perceived or how they’ll look in braces.
Here are ways to overcome insecurities about orthodontic treatment in order to take social media, high school and everything else by storm:
- Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on the end result, which is a healthy, gorgeous smile.
- Remind yourself that’s it only temporary. Your braces will be off before you know it and in the grand scheme of things, your time in treatment is just a tiny blip on the radar.
- Befriend other braces wearers. If none of your close friends have braces, seek out people who do. It never hurts to expand your social circle and you can exchange tips and pointers, commiserate and gain comfort from knowing that someone else is feeling like you are.
- Keep up with your regular dental appointments and brush and floss as instructed to maintain a sparkling smile. You’ll be a lot less hesitant to share it with the world if your mouth is clean and healthy.
- While it’s easier said than done, try not to obsess about it. Other people are usually busy worrying about their own stuff and probably haven’t spent much time thinking about the fact that you’re wearing braces.
- Be mindful of your negative self-talk. We all have negative thoughts about ourselves from time to time but if it’s something you wouldn’t say to a friend, you probably shouldn’t say it to yourself. Pay attention to that critical voice when it gets down on you about your braces and replace the thoughts with something positive like visualizing your new smile.
- Try something completely new that’s a little out of your comfort zone. It will bring you into the present moment, get you out of your own head and give you a break from thinking about braces or your appearance. Pushing your boundaries builds self-esteem. If all else fails, at least you’ll get a great photo op out of it.
- Take what you see on social media with a grain of salt. We’re all just humans. It’s a lot easier to make yourself look flawless and perfect when you’re choosing the image you’re showing people from a huge selection on your camera roll. Sure, someone can take a stellar #nofilter selfie but you know the odds are good that they snapped a bunch of pictures and posted the most attractive one. Comparing yourself to the curated images of everyone on your Instagram feed isn’t doing anything for your confidence.
We hope by working to enhance your self-esteem and using our selfie hacks, you’ll learn to wear those braces or aligners with pride! We have state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and treatments at our Coquitlam office to ensure you can get in and out of treatment in no time. Think of braces as jewelry for your teeth and the stepping stone to having a beautiful grin for the rest of your life. Don’t shy away from giving your friends or the camera a genuine smile.