#LetsTalkAboutIt: Living With An Imperfect Smile & Considering Cosmetic Dentistry


“The first thing I notice about a person is their smile and manicure. If either of these are looking less than perfect, I question their reliability.” This is a direct quote from someone I once worked with. Needless to say, at the time it felt very personal having suffered some very apparent dentistry issues from the age of 21. I felt anxious and uncomfortable – and it certainly wasn’t the first time. When I turned 21 I was at university in London and having the time of my life. Then out of the blue, as these things tend to happen, I had an accident that changed everything; it resulted in knocking out some of my front teeth and damaging others. It was the end of the sociable and chatty journalism student I once was and instead a dark period of time in my life began. It was a time when I would avoid all social interaction and spend my days covering my mouth, calculating whether or not I could eat certain things.

I tried to get help on the NHS but I couldn’t get into a practice. I wasn’t in a position at the time to go private and even got as far as offering to be a case study for a dental student. So, in time I learnt to ‘cope’ – although I say cope, it was trul the impression of coping. I started working (of all places) in face-to-face media sales and even ended up having a couple of boyfriends. Ultimately though, people would always bring up my smile and I would have to explain (once again) the how, what, where and why. When people knew me they didn’t tend to make a big deal of it, often throwing in the odd comment that was meant in sympathy but was often interpreted as pity; however, there were the people that didn’t know me who would make snide comments about ‘learning to brush my teeth’ and assuming that I was some sort of junkie – even though nothing was further from the truth.

One day I met my husband. It was a dark club, he commented on how he liked my smile and I laughed so hard. He saw through the mess my teeth had become and the barrier I put up between me and getting close to others. Then one day he asked me to marry him on a beach in Rhodes, and I saidy yes. Then the panic set in. Every bride wants to be beautiful on their big day, even if it’s never been a big deal beforehand; I was faced with the fact I was going to have to stand up in front of everybody, be ridiculously happy and smile. I eventually found an NHS dentist accepting patients, so I made the appointment, took a deep breath and went in. Their only solution, being NHS and all, was to remove even more teeth and fit me with dentures. Dentures at 25 years old. I came out of the appointment in hysterics and shouting that I was calling the whole wedding off.

My fiancé is truly amazing and at last revealed that he’d been secretly saving to fund private dental work before our big day, knowing how important it was to me. Unsurprisingly my tears soon turned to happy tears. I was referred by my dentist to a private practice that specialised in dental implants and cosmetic dentistry. I wouldn’t have even been able to know where to look, or what I needed done but the clinic I was referred to was excellent. They suggested a course of teeth whitening, fitting of porcelain veneers to match the tone of my natural teeth and then fitting three dental implants. Dental implants are titanium screws inserted into the jaw bone on which crowns can be affixed. They are very intrusive and take a lot of healing time (six months between insertion and fitting of the permanent crown) but are sturdy and look like the real thing. In addition to this they also offered a number of interest free finance options if we didn’t have the amount up front.

In total the cost of the work ended up being around £6500, which was actually more than the cost of our wedding. But the impact they have had on my life is incomparable. I smile at people now, I’ve aced interviews, I’ve taken myself out of my comfort zone and slowly become the person who I truly think I was meant to be. It changed the look of my face where the implants have given structure back to my mouth and it’s given me enormous clarity when it comes to people. You cannot judge people based on the way they look, you cannot assume you know who they are or what they have been through. For anybody thinking about getting cosmetic dentistry done, if it’s truly something that you want then do your research and get several opinions. Don’t just go for the cheapest option and, above all things, smile. It will change your life. Here are my top five tips to help you get started.

1) Think about it carefully. Is cosmetic dentistry really the answer for your situation? Although the results can be life-changing, the procedures themselves can be painful, invasive and very expensive. Check in with your dentist to see if there are any things you can do yourself or over the counter products available that may be able to give good results.

2) Do your research. Before I decided to go ahead with my dentist, although I was referred, I scoured the Internet and looked into reviews and testimonials. I also looked into what would be involved. Don’t just go with your first referral if it doesn’t feel right.

3) Be prepared to take time off. I used around two weeks of holiday for my procedure. This was a mixture of appointments (as they can be several hours) and convalescence. You’ll feel like you’ve been punched in the face and on painkillers so expect to take some time off and arrange for people to look after you. I had to eat a liquid diet for a week after one treatment in particular.

4) It won’t look pretty straightaway. I had to go without temporary crowns for a while and had black stitches in my gums. I have to admit, I was used to being uncomfortable with the appearance of my teeth but this was a completely new level of discomfort. The results will come but you must be patient.

5) Have realistic expectations. Whether this is on healing time (It took 6 months to have my permanent crowns fitted), pain (having veneers put on is a very uncomfortable experience) or cost (expect to pay in the thousands because they need to be good quality), this isn’t a quick fix but will have excellent results.

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  1. Laura Gale
    June 30, 2016 / 8:46 pm

    I found this post so relatable. I had braces between the ages of 11 and 13, and for the most part, they worked wonders. However, one tooth crept gradually backwards as the years went on. One of the teeth next to my top front teeth is severely misaligned, and in photos, it can often look like I'm missing a tooth. I have to strategically pose, almost sideways, to ensure my misaligned tooth isn't in photos. Whenever I'm caught out and find myself in a straight-on shot, I try and photoshop my teeth as best I can, which just makes me feel tragic.Teeth are such a central part of your look, and being unhappy with them can be so detrimental to your confidence and self-esteem. I don't smile half as much as I would if I were happy with my teeth. My boyfriend always comments on how few photos we take together these days, but that's because I hate getting in front of the camera!I've been unhappy with my look for four years now. I've been saving and plan to begin Invisalign treatment in the new year.Laura | Lala London: Beauty & Lifestyle

    • Hayley Carr
      July 4, 2016 / 3:02 pm

      Your comment is so relatable to many – I've always suffered with horrible teeth too, and spending about 10 years in braces only made me fear the dentist. I wish there were more affordable options available, because it has such an impact on confidence.

  2. last year's girl
    July 1, 2016 / 8:59 am

    I loved this post – when I got to the bit about your fiance announcing he had saved up money for private dentistry I almost burst into tears!I'm glad you got your smile back, in more ways than one.Lis / last year's girl x

  3. Emyii Rankin
    July 2, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    Id love to have surgery to fix my teeth but due to neglect i have lost most of mine and my gums are too damaged, the only thing i can get is dentures, its really sad and i hate smiling because of it but ive only got myself to blame.

    • Hayley Carr
      July 4, 2016 / 3:03 pm

      I think a lot of people will relate Emyii. Although dentures aren't nice, if they give you your smile back maybe they're worth considering?

  4. Majean G
    July 4, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    Such a lovely post. Almost cried when I read your hubby saved up money for your treatment. I've got a misaligned tooth and it bugs me to no end. Not a big fan of photos but theven irony is that I need to take photos for fashion posts. I'm really pleased you're smiling again.www.majeang.com

  5. Shelterd Life
    July 8, 2016 / 10:46 am

    I have tartar so extreme that it was really difficult to clean yet the dentist Hermosa Beach was great, fast however watchful. The objective is to make sure my teeth remain sound and they head off to extraordinary efforts to keep up the original teeth.

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