Give Me Back My Five Bucks

My braces – an update nearly 2 years later

Most of you know that back in April 2011, I got adult braces. It was something I had wanted to do since I was a teenager, and I was finally in a financial position where I could afford to do it (since none of my jobs had extended benefits that would cover orthodontics). My treatment was supposed to last 18-24 months. And now that we’re approaching the 2-year mark, I decided to finally do an update.

One of the big reasons I haven’t done an update is because I was unhappy because I assumed my treatment would be set back by a year (since I was overseas for that long without an adjustment). But when I went to see my orthodontist back in December, I was pleasantly surprised when he said my treatment would likely only get extended by 6 months. So, as of right now I have about 8-9 months left to go – but fingers crossed I get them off sooner. :)

Here are the original photos of me with braces (about 3.5 months into treatment):

Related: June 17, 2011 – An update on my braces

Before and after

Here is a close up of my mouth “before” (September 2010) and as of this week (February 2013):

braces-beforeafter copy

Notice how different my smile looks! :D

Getting braces as an adult was scary, but it’s been a lot easier than I had thought it would be. And I’m extremely pleased with the results so far. Before I had braces, I didn’t see a lot wrong with my teeth. But looking at these before-and-after photos, I can tell that it looks so much better now. My teeth are now lining up properly, my smile looks so much better, and my bottom teeth are all completely straight.

I thought getting braces would hold me back from my career, and from my love life (I was single when I first got them). But aside from the braces making me look younger than I am, I haven’t had any problems with my career. I’ve been on television, spoken in front of large audiences, and had successful job interviews. And as for my love life, well I’ve been dating Nic for nearly the entire time I’ve had them, and he said he hardly notices them.

The only major problem I’ve had with my braces is that they haven’t been easy on my mouth. The brackets and the wire constantly cut the inside of my mouth, and I go through dental wax so fast. It makes it difficult to eat sometimes as well, but the only foods I’ve completely stayed away from are hard veggies/fruits (unless they’re cut up), chewy candies, gum, and corn on the cob.

Anyway over the past few years, I’ve had a lot of search engine traffic to my blog, with people asking if adult braces are worth it. And now that I’m just one installment away from paying off my braces – which cost $6,980 out-of-pocket BTW – I can honestly say that it was worth it for me, and I absolutely recommend it to people who are on the fence (like I was).

It’s been worth all the discomfort, and all the lingering stares at my mouth, and all the anxiety, and of course all the money! Because not only is my mouth healthier now, but my smile looks nicer, and that’s going to give me so much more confidence in the future. I never used to smile with my teeth, and now I do all the time. :)

Have you ever had (or contemplated getting) adult braces?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. alana says:

    nice work with the braces. I got my just two months after you did and it’s been going well also. I should be getting them off in the next four months, fingers crossed. I would so recommend it to anyone who is still on the fence. Apart from four months or so that I had to wear a habit breaker for my tongue which protruded in the space between my front teeth, it has been smooth sailing. Not gonna lie, those five months with that thing in my mouth were not nice, it did impair my speech but I sucked it up and still said my piece when needed to for work. Just made me more critically consider when verbal interventions needed to be made, realized you dont always need to say something when you think you do.

    Anyway, my teeth are now straight, I smile and bare teeth every chance I get now, I’m loving it. Best money I ever spent but I do recommend doing a thorough job finding an orthodontist who’s not only skilled, but who is comfortable answering your questions. If your paranoid like me, you’ll have lots of questions so finding someone with nice bedside manner and up for answering all the pesky questions that in all truth, may seem to be second guessing them, would just make the whole thing a lot easier for you.

  2. emailer says:

    I got invisalign, took far less time and got great results!

  3. I got braces in September! Counting down the months until they take them off. I have seen a huge improvement in my teeth in this short period of time. I, also, don’t have headaches. My teeth were so crowded they caused me headaches.
    Cost $5500 for braces and $300 for pulling 4 teeth to make room for braces.

  4. MissR says:

    I have braces for the second time right now (I’m currently 29 yrs. old), and I have about 6 months to go. My orthodontist estimates the treatment to take no more than 24 months. I failed to wear my retainer the first time around (I was 19 yrs. old), and my teeth moved quite a bit. I decided to get them again because I wasn’t comfortable with the way my teeth looked. The worst part of this time’s treatment was the bite turbos that I have. The first 4 months were horrible. They are placed on the back of your front teeth, and keep your bottom teeth from touching your top teeth. I have a deep underbite, so the purpose of the BT was to open up my bite. Until that happened, my top and bottom molars wouldn’t touch at all… I couldn’t eat anything that had to be thoroughly chewed (like steak or some types of chicken), or anything that was too flat (salad & some types of pasta). Everything had to be easily broken apart by my front teeth, or I’d have to swallow it nearly whole. My back molars touch now, but my Dr. has decided to leave the bite turbos on until my treatment ends. Braces can be very uncomfortable, and EXPENSIVE, but they are worth it. Keep wax on hand at all times! My main piece of advice, WEAR YOUR RETAINERS! My total cost for this treatment was about $2500 out of pocket… insurance covered the other $2500. Best of luck!

  5. ForHerByHer says:

    I had braces as a teenager and the worst part was getting them tightened and the wires cutting the inside of my mouth as well. Wax was my BEST friend!

    I don’t know what it would have been like to get them as an adult, but I consider them to be the best investment ever. Being able to smile without feeling self-conscious (my problem before braces) is a huge benefit. Although I didn’t pay for it at the time, I would definitely make that investment today if I had to.

  6. Andie says:

    I had orthodontics when I was a kid, but my dentist and orthodontist were not that great. I was never given a retainer, or had my wisdom teeth out. Surprise surprise, my teeth totally shifted and the wisdom teeth came in and made it even worse. I felt so bad that all the money my parents spent on me was kind of a waste.

    As an adult, I was on the fence about getting them fixed because it was a lot of money not covered by insurance. I felt like I was being vain for wanting to fix relatively minor problems, but it constantly bugged me in photos and I would only half smile to hide my teeth. I looked into getting braces and compared my options. I was a candidate for invisalign and was told it would take a year, $5000 for just the uppers (the bottoms are not that bad, and covered by my overbite).

    There are annoyances with the invisalign as well, it takes a lot of brushing to keep it clean, and you have to take it out any time you eat and drink. When I first got it, I had a bit of a lisp until I got used to it. Now its been 6 months now, and I can not believe how much better my teeth look, it is unbelievable. My teeth had shifted so slowly over the years, I hadn’t really noticed how much it was. Now that they have been straightened so fast it was really shocking how much of a difference it has made (and I’m not even finished yet!). I am so happy that I decided to go for it.

    I’d say to anyone who is concerned about their teeth, to save up and just go for it. I am so so happy that I did it, totally 1000% worth the money spent.

  7. Tuyet says:

    I’m 37 years old and will be getting braces next month. I would on the fence for the longest time, but I figured that I should just do it. My braces will end up costing $8400, but work will cover $3K of that so out of pocket I will only pay $5400. Ouch!

  8. damien says:

    Had them between 23 and 25 => they worth the price and the pain.
    It’s an ego booster and people will notice.

    Adults should not hesitate if they can pay for them and don’t like their smile. It’s more and more common.

  9. Kayla says:

    Thanks for the post Krystal–this one really resonated with me! I’ve had some sort of orthodontic work my entire life, and now I’m 23 and with a visible retainer. Seeing your success story inspired me to get the retainer dealt with (It holds 2 artifical eye teeth, so I need to save for dental implants before removing the retainer so I don’t look silly). $1700, but it will be so worth it! You are right, I definitely feel that a great smile is a wonderful investment in your future. I won’t put off saving for this any longer :)

  10. Cait says:

    Your whole smile looks great but your bottom teeth look fantastic!

    I don’t think I’ll ever need adult braces but I did when I was a kid and I do wear a retainer at night to keep my top teeth straight. I have a really bad habit of pushing on my teeth with my tongue in my sleep (sexy, I know) and I’m not willing to ruin the straight teeth my parents paid for. It’s a couple hundred dollars every 2-3 years but it’s worth it to me.

  11. Meghan says:

    I did Invisilign (awesome) and braces on my front top 6 teeth for a little less than a month to bring a couple teeth down. Honestly I felt like I was going to rip my teeth out with those braces on. It drove me crazy and it never lessened during that month. I would have gotten them taken off, no joke. 6 years later, I still have the bottom permanent retainer and use top and bottom plastic retainers. I feel like my bottom teeth are trying to move but aren’t getting much cooperation. The Invisilign was so much better! I wonder if you could switch for the last part?

  12. Heather says:

    I feel like I should add my experience just so you are aware of some of the downsides of braces. I was having problems with my jaw about 10 years after my braces/retainer days. My jaw shifted and was only clamping on one side of my mouth which was causing a grind to take place. Now I have to wear a disgusting mouth guard at night to cease it and even if I go one night without the guard, my jaw starts to shift again. I was told by a specialty dentist in this are that this happens to 30% of people with braces. My teeth were not that bad to begin with and I feel like for a little vanity, there was too much discomfort, surgeries (wisdom teeth being removed early and causing complications), and now permanent artificial plastic in my mouth every night forever. I feel like dentistry loves making more and more money from this and my daughter will not be receiving braces unless her teeth are significantly crooked or if it is causing other health problems. Just a cautionary tale.

    • Had braces! Loved the result says:

      Sounds like you might have a problem maybe related to your jaw joints and not the braces? I’m really thankful to my parents that they found a great orthodontist for me even though my teeth were not significantly crooked. I love my smile, and having straight teeth makes cleaning them so much easier too. I have no jaw issues, but I think it’s important to see an orthodontist.

  13. I got my braces when I was 29 and took them off at 31. During that time, I got married. I had to take them out for a month for that. Even though I only had them for 7 months before I got married, it made a huge difference. My mouth went through a lot and I lost some weight because I had hard time eating, but I’m glad I went through with it. I agree with people saying it’s never too late and it’s totally worth it.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      How much did it cost for you to remove them for a month for your marriage? I wanted to remove mine while I was away travelling (in case they broke – which they did, btw), but the cost was so high that I scrapped that idea.

      • valerie says:

        Hi, I know it’s been a while since you already removed your braces. May I know how long were you traveling and you did not go to a orthodontist while travelling? What did you orthodontist advise you before you go? What did you have to do or not to do?

        • Krystal Yee says:

          Hi Valerie – I was traveling for 12 months and didn’t see an orthodontist to make any adjustments at all while I was gone. The only time I did go to see one was about 9 months into the trip when I went back to Toronto for a conference. The wire had slipped off of one of my teeth, and I desperately needed to get it fixed.

          My actual orthodontist just told me that they’d put my treatment on pause and there was nothing else really that could be done. I could have gotten my braces removed and given a retainer for the 12 months I was away – but it would have cost about $2,000 to take the braces off, and back on again, and it wasn’t worth that price tag to me.

  14. mytoughgirl says:

    My orthodontist didn’t nickel and dime me. So no extra charge for anything. I told him about it in the beginning and he agreed to not charge me. But the finance manager was trying to charge me when it was time to remove my braces and the doctor told her not to~^^

  15. Anonymous says:

    I actually think that braces (done by an orthodontist! Not a general dentist) are worth the price. You get ALL of your teeth fixed and lined up for about 6000 versus just a few crowns or veneers on only a few of your teeth. Your result with braces is very nice – glad you went with real braces and not Invisalign, which is slower, more expensive, and sometimes can’t really control tooth movement very well. Smart decision!!!!!

  16. joe says:

    Ive had reservations about braces for a long time now.. but reading your blog has convinced me to get them.. who is your ortho if you dont mind me asking? Seems like its hard to trust just ANY ortho these days.

    Thanks for blogging your experience!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I used Dr. Jason Gallant at Viva Orthodontics!

      • Joe says:

        Since that last msg I sent you, I got my braces and viva and now they’re coming off in 10 days. Only had to wear them for 16 months despite the 18-24 month timeline they gave me. Thank you for your referral but mostly thank you for sharing your experience otherwise I don’t know if I would’ve done it so thank you thank you thank you thank you!

  17. Chris says:

    I had my adult braces installed earlier today; I am very excited. I had braces as a young child but my teeth began to move after 15-27 years of playing a musical instrument. I enjoyed reading the update of our progress.

  18. Nicole says:

    I just got braces on Friday and they a glue type substance in my back upper molars so my top teeth don’t hit my bottom braces; I can’t chew anything because my molars don’t close! Will this go away??? I thought the more the glue got pressed down the easier it will be to eat relatively normal again!!!

    • Sherri says:

      I got my braces, complete with bite turbos on my molars, on January 27th. I still can’t eat anything that requires chewing and have lost 5 lbs so far (really don’t need to). I’m so tired of being hungry all of the time! I mostly eat creamy soup, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, cottage cheese, pudding & applesauce. And drink lots of wine! :)

      • Anonymous says:

        Lmfao me too!!! Can’t go wrong with wine(with a straw of coarse) :-)

      • Anonymous says:

        Try chopped up eggs with mustard and pickle juice I can’t chew the pickles but the juice gives great flavor same thing with tuna fish you need more protein then that it’s why you’re losing weight!!!

    • sar says:

      Same thing is happening to me, my dentist said that it would go away in a few days. Did yours get better? I just got my braces a day ago and I can’t close my mouth. it so frustrating!

  19. sophia says:

    I just got my braces done yesterday and them Turbo brackets are the worst. I don’t think I will ever get use to them, I can’t eat and my tongue is very irritated… I hope all of this is worth it in the end

    • Sherri says:

      I feel your pain! I’ve had the turbos also for 3 months & not being able to chew anything is really awful!! I could handle the braces ok if I could just eat something!

  20. lex says:

    I’ve had mine in for about 6 months now. Nothing but problems. The brackets keep detaching and several fillings have fallen out. One too has cracked and I had 2 brackets come off today, one of which was at the very back releasing the wire. I was quickly reading when the first one popped off then watching a film when the second one went. I’m careful but nothing helps. I’m thinking about calling it quits as it’s never ending. I feel like I have flushed a load of money down the pan. Emergency appointment Monday, wire is out too now so bag of suite. My advice is don’t waste your money or time.

    • j says:

      Can i ask you where you got them done? Finding the right orthodontist is a very crucial aspect that I think goes unsaid a lot of the time. I got mines done at Viva Ortho and they were for a lack of a better word f*cking awesome.

  21. lex says:

    Orthodontic Clinic, Aberdeen, Scotland. I have the Damon system. Very much of the opinion that it depends on the individual. In my case, totally wasted effort.

  22. sar says:

    I just got my braces a day ago and i don’t really have any pain. the only problem is that my teeth won’t close together. the back of my top teeth is hitting with the farthest bottom brace, both on my left side, so that’s stopping me from closing my teeth. What do i do? Would it adjust by itself??

  23. Cae F says:

    Hello, it’s been 1 week now since i got my braces and my BT. It is bit annoying since I can’t enjoy eating but looking at the brighter side of it, is the only thing that gets me going. Sometimes i just Feel like sleeping and wake up in March 😁. These reads are very helpful and encouraging by the way! Just want to say cheers to our better smiles soon! Have a blessed holiday everyone!

  24. Jasmine says:

    Hi Krystal, I have braces too and they are a lot of work. I have one question: I have gotten a new molar today ( January 4,2016) and I can’t tell if it’s my teeth or my gum because I had to have an extraction ( 5 teeth were pulled) & now I have my wisdom teeth now but when I went to the dentist they checked and said it looks great but we have to put another molar on because the tooth beside another molar is not wanting to turn the right way so another one of my adult teeth can grow in. So my question is: if you have ever went through that can you tell if it’s the actual teeth or is it the gum. Because when I got my new molar it was hurting cause it wasn’t turned all way.

  25. Jasmine says:

    Hi Krystal, I got a new molar today (has years 4,2016) and I was wondering if it was the tooth that was hurting or the gum. Because it hurt when they were trying to put the new molar on or looking for the size & now the right side of my mouth hurts

  26. Felicia says:

    I am 36 and got braces put on a week and a half ago. I just have them in the top right now. I’m not sure when they will put them in the bottom. I have a 98% over bite and over jet plus crowding. I am very anxious to see some movement in my teeth. How long was it before you had noticeable changes?

  27. MF says:

    Hi. I’m really on the fence about adult braces being worth it. I have always been so self consious about my smile even though my teeth really weren’t that bad. However the bigger reason I decided to take the plunge was so I can floss easier as I have gum problems. I’m nearly three years into treatment and my teeth still aren’t a lot different that when I started. My bite has changed and bottom teeth aligned nicely but my top teeth are as ugly as they have always been. My teeth have been so slow and stubborn to move, a problem my Ortho told me is very common with adult teeth. My Midlines are very off now and that wasn’t a problem before. It’s still going to be a while for me, probably about a year. Oh, and my braces were $7500 plus the cost of extractions and the post gum surgery and cost of fake tooth I will have to have all in the name of straight teeth (will be 10 grand when all is said and done). If I could go back and change my mind about getting them I probably would.

  28. Crystal says:

    Hi Krystal, I have recently gotten partial braces on top 6 teeth and a spring clip retainer on bottom teeth at 23 years old (adult braces/aligning retainer) I just wanted to tell everyone about my experience. The spring clip at the bottom was because my bottom two front teeth were so slighly crooked I didn’t need braces, he said a spring retainer would be enough pressure to move the bottom right tooth forward close to half a millimeter to match the bottom left tooth and push my bottom teeth a little more forward afterwords to achieve less of an overbite and closer to aligning. It has been a very good experience so far, (a little pain in beginning, but subsided) I am only on month 3 of a 16 month treatment and already seeing amazing results!! :) they also made a temporary gap in my front teeth so my front teeth had room to rotate and them straighten and then they will shut the gap.

  29. Crystal says:

    13 to 16 month treatment I meant. :)

  30. Kristy says:

    I got my adult braces (I’m 36) on in March. I’ve had zero progress in 6 months!!!

  31. robert says:

    SO u r dr.jason gallant patient too??

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