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Say Goodbye To "Metal Mouth"

When it comes to self-confidence, your teeth and smile have a lot to do with how you feel. Not having the smile you want can make you more hesitant to talk to people and less likely to go after the things you want in life. And while many women consider their smile something they'd like to fix about themselves, many don't consider getting their teeth straightened as an adult. "Metal mouths" may immediately bring to mind preteens and teenagers, but metal braces aren't your only option. There are clear aligners that are barely visible, and even metal braces are less visible and more comfortable than they used to be.

IT'S MORE THAN JUST A PRETTIER SMILE

Improving the look of your smile may be your main reason for looking into teeth straightening, but there are many more benefits if you choose to get your teeth straightened. For example, straight teeth help people chew, bite and speak more effectively. They also contribute to healthier teeth and gums, making it easier for your dental floss, toothbrush and mouthwash to do their jobs. Not only that, but there are plenty of mental and social benefits. A nice smile boosts self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image, which can lead to more social and career success.

YOU HAVE OPTIONS

These days, technology has revolutionized the teeth-straightening industry. Gone are the days of chunky metal appliances and mazes of rubber bands. Today, the traditional metal and bracket wire system involves brackets that are much smaller and can be tooth-colored so they're less noticeable, as well as smaller rubber bands. They allow an orthodontist to use a wide range of techniques to move the teeth, making them effective for even complicated cases. Clear aligners, like Invisalign, involve clear trays that fit over your teeth and can be removed whenever you want, like while you eat or when you brush your teeth. Every two weeks you change the tray you're using to one that is closer to your end result. They're good if you don't need extensive correction and are committed to wearing the trays.

Teen Actress Ciara Bravo Shares Her Journey To Confidence

Many girls have dealt with bullies — whether the teasing involves height, weight, style, or some other factor, it can be extremely damaging. But think about how many more bullies you must encounter when you're an actress and suddenly you're in the limelight (and open to commenters galore). The bully pool expands infinitely, and you must develop a thick skin. That's what 18-year-old actress Ciara Bravo did, and we could all learn a thing or two about her journey to confidence. The talented young star played an anorexic teen on the show Red Band Society and, suddenly, her fans accused her of having an eating disorder herself (unable to distinguish the real Ciara from the character she plays on TV).

The naturally petite star has teamed up with Invisalign to promote their Unbrace Teen Confidence campaign — a resource for mothers and teens to explore how to deal with peer pressure, social media activity, and communication. "I am so much smaller than everyone my age," Ciara explains. "Everyone assumed I was much younger all of my life. It wasn't an easy process. It took time and understanding. It came with developing my own sense of style. Finally, I began to embrace being small and adorable. You have to find the things that make you happy about yourself," she explains. Ciara never felt like she could smile in front of people. "I didn't like how my teeth and cheeks were chipmunk-y when I smiled, but now I enjoy that. As you grow, you begin to understand yourself better. You understand what you are able to change and what you have to work on learning to love," Ciara explains. For example — Ciara learned to love her cheeks, but changed her style — a look she now describes as a mix of super girly and tomboy. Her wardrobe staples include leather jackets, thrift store sweaters, and platform sneakers. "I never had braces — I used Invisalign.

It was a lifesaver for me as an actress, because the character I was playing at the time didn't have braces. I could even wear them during filming," Ciara explains. "But I don't think braces that show are bad either. If worn with confidence, they're a great accessory. Whatever your insecurity, own it. You have to say, 'This is me. Take it or leave it,'" she says.

Get Straight On 10 Invisalign Truths

Real talk: I’ve never loved my teeth. OK, they were never awful, but Invisalign has long been in the back of my mind. Despite wearing my retainer every single night since getting my braces off in high school, my teeth still moved, and I had what's called an overjet bite, which means my lower teeth were too far behind my upper front teeth. In other words: not cute. In a lot of ways, Invisalign was the best thing I could do for my smile. But there are a few things I wish I knew before my first appointment. If you're also wondering if you should try it out, read this first. (If your choppers don't need any straightening up, you can at least make your smile brighter.

1. YES, YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO WEAR THEM.

It’s an all-too-true reality, but there’s no dancing it around it: You have to keep the aligners on for at least 20 hours a day or you won’t get the best results. That means breakfast, lunch, and dinner become power meals. Make sure you’re ready for that commitment.

2. YOU CAN’T SEE THEM, BUT YOU CAN HEAR THEM.

There’s a reason they are called invisible braces—no one could tell I was wearing them. Until I started talking, that is. (I dare anyone with Invisalign to try asking, “What’s your skincare secret?” without lisping.) Luckily, it got better with time—going from cringe-worthy mumbles to coherent ssssentences—and by the end, no one noticed my lisp, either.

3. IT’S NOT THE RIGHT TREATMENT FOR EVERYONE.

Invisalign can treat most orthodontic issues, like crooked teeth, minor over/under bites, or gaps. To see if it’s right for you, you can take the Invisalign’s Smile Assessment.

4. YOUR TRAVEL TOOTHBRUSH WILL BECOME YOUR BEST FRIEND.

You’ll need to use one (with its companion, the mini tube of toothpaste) in between meals, so your cereal/salad/chicken doesn’t linger in your mouth longer than it needs to. Assuming you eat the typical three times a day, that means you’ll need it for 21 instances in a single week. That’s a whole lot of brushing; invest in a few.

5. YOU’LL HAVE TO LIMIT YOUR MORNING COFFEES.

In general, drinking anything that can stain your teeth—coffee, red wine, tea—will stain your Invisalign. So if you rely on a cup (or three) of java to fuel your mornings, be warned: You won’t get to enjoy it quite like you used to. You’ll have to factor it in to your allotted time to eat breakfast, or take it out before your second cup (and always brush before you put the trays back in). The same goes for post-work glasses of wine—something I wish I knew before signing up for the treatment.

6. YOU MIGHT (ACCIDENTALLY) LOSE WEIGHT.

Midday snacks will never be the same, and mindless eating becomes obsolete. It’s the biggest blessing in disguise: After every meal, you have to brush your teeth. So when you get that 2 p.m. craving, you're forced to stop and ask yourself “Is it really worth it?” Most of the time, it’s not, and you quickly become aware of your senseless snacking. Just remember: When everyone else is eating cake for a colleague’s birthday, you may curse your Invisalign…until you notice your clothes start fitting better.

7. IT’S VIRTUALLY PAINLESS.

I remember shrieking—loudly—every time I got my braces tightened in high school (I blame my child-like pain tolerance), so trust me when I say Invisalign does not hurt. No, you won’t be able to eat raw carrots on your first day, but it’s like a walk in the park compared to its metal counterpart.

8. CLEANING THEM WITH TOOTHPASTE IS A NO-NO.

The only thing more noticeable than spinach wedged between your teeth is a murky, yellow Invisalign tray. This can happen if you don’t brush post-meal, but also because you’re washing it with toothpaste—as surprising as that may be.

9. IT COULD TAKE LONGER THAN YOU THINK.

The average treatment of Invisalign is one year, so I was ecstatic to learn I only needed six months. But then…on my last day of supposed treatment, BAM! I was told I need a new set of “finishing” aligners to get them as close to perfect as possible.

10. IT’S 100 PERCENT WORTH IT.

Through all the missed birthday cakes and wine nights, I would do it again in a heartbeat. My teeth no longer bother me, I’ve become a devoted flosser and a mindful eater, and that, to me, makes it completely, totally, wholeheartedly worth it.

Braces Or Invisalign? What You Should Choose When It Comes To Your Child’s Teeth

Q: Do snaggletoothed tweens need braces, or will Invisalign work?

A: Second adult molars and moderate dental needs make for the ideal Invisalign candidate. It’s appealing for kids who are sensitive to metal-mouth jokes, and it avoids sore mouth and gums. But treatment can lengthen if the removable trays are lost by a child who takes them out often. With braces, the orthodontist is in control, which can mean more effective treatment. But a mouth full of brackets and wires can make brushing and flossing hard, leading to poor hygiene. The verdict: If your child is pretty conscientious, go Invisalign. But a forgetful kid may have to grin and bear braces.

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