Embracing Your Braces
It's here. The dreaded day after you get your braces and now you're walking into work to face your co-workers. We all know the feeling of trying to avoid the stares and questions we get when we arrive with a new hairdo or outfit. And now it's braces. I've been asked this question many times... "Do braces have a negative impact on your professional image?" For years I thought they did, which is why I was so hesitant to get mine. I pushed them off for job interviews. I pushed them off to launch my business. I pushed them off when I was a bridesmaid. I looked for any and every opportunity to push out the date because I did not want my braces to over power whatever event or special occasion was taking place, professional or personal. At one point did I think that braces would have a negative impact on my image? Yes. Do I feel the same way 8 months into my braces? No, and here's how I've maintained my professionalism during my journey!
Confidence is key.
Understanding that you are the same person with and without braces is the first step. Initially, I was worried because I felt that braces would make me look very young and inexperienced, and as a result I would not be taken seriously in my work environment. The key takeaway here is that it is all in the way you carry yourself in the workplace. Do not let braces, or any temporary thing have a negative impact on your productivity because this is just a short-term process for a long-term positive outcome. And just an FYI, you are not alone! The amount of adults investing in oral health is on the rise making up nearly 50% of patients in the ortho office. Remember, you are in full control of your image by maintaining confidence and professionalism throughout the process. As long as you do not let the braces impact the work you do, they won't!
To eat, or not to eat...? That is the question.
Braces should not cause you to miss out on any networking or social events. I usually try to eat prior to the event and then mix and mingle with my drink, but sometimes that option is not availabley. Sometimes you cannot avoid a team building event such as an offsite lunch, without eating and must make it work. The key takeaway here is to understand that your food choices are limited, but should not stop you from participating in these activities. Always stay away from breads and leafy greens. These are the most common foods that will stick to your braces and are the easiest to spot from afar. Keep drinking water (or whatever you're drinking) to avoid items sticking to the wires. Also, once you're finished it's best to head to the restroom for a quick brush to keep you confident for the remainder of the activity. You do not want to network while being paranoid that there is food in your teeth! Trust me, it will show.
Simplicity is key.
If you are an adventurous person that is awesome, but I highly recommend you do not extend your adventurism when choosing the color of your braces. I suggest you choose between 2 colors if you have the traditional metal braces: silver (standard color) or pearl (to match the color of your teeth). Personally, I was skeptical of the pearl because my orthodontist told me it turns yellow after a while, so I stick with silver/grey to have one standard color. During the holidays some orthodontists may encourage you to venture out a little and add some color to your smile. I would advise you to think about your work environment before agreeing to do so. If you work with young children, a colorful smile will probably get you brownie points. If you work in corporate america or a semi-conservative environment, I would definitely keep it simple and standard.
Well, I hope this helps someone who is on their way or currently on the journey of perfecting their smile. Braces can be a scary thing, especially for an adult! Just remember that they are temporary and you ultimately have the biggest impact on your professionalism and image during this process.
Good luck! Cheers!
Pictured with my braces and my sister, Kourtney after a training event in Ontario, CA.