Deciding to get Invisalign was a process for me. I told myself for too long that I was being vain. Eventually, however, I realized that Invisalign was the self-care I needed to find my confidence.

Like most teenagers, I got braces when I was in middle school. I rocked the full-metal-mouth for the allotted two years and emerged from my summer after the eighth grade a beautiful straight-mouthed butterfly.

I wore my retainer dutifully, the kind with the plastic base and metal bar that goes across your front teeth. My retainer’s plastic base had a frog sticker inside of it. It was a gimmick that I got to choose.

Over the years, I kept my retainer in as pristine condition as I could by soaking it in a liquid created with the efferdent tablets (this product was great for dentures, too!). Over time, my retainer began to look gross from wear and tear and age, and I hated wearing it.

Coincidentally, I began hating to wear it in college when I lived in a co-ed dorm. Between living amongst mixed company, keeping late or random hours, and using a shared girls’ bathroom, I stopped wearing my retainer at night.

As  you can imagine, my teeth shifted slightly, not noticeably but just enough that my retainer stopped fitting comfortably. So, I gave up on my retainer altogether, convinced that I had worn it long enough anyway that my teeth wouldn’t move any more.

It has been five years since I graduated college and probably nine years since I’ve worn my retainer. Within the last year I began noticing that the teeth surrounding my two front teeth had shifted slightly; A larger gap appeared on either side of the teeth.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Why Invisalign Was the Self-Care I Needed to Find My Confidence” quote=”Why Invisalign Was the Self-Care I Needed to Find My Confidence”]

I hated it. It was all I could see when I looked at photos of myself and I began to smile with my mouth closed, which always looks pained/fake when I smile that way. I became so self-conscious about the small gaps in my teeth, but when I mentioned my worries to friends they would always say, “It’s not noticeable,” or “It’s not that bad.”

Finally, I mentioned it to my dentist. Her reply? “Oh, sure, that could be fixed quick and easy!” and I began to think about Invisalign.

I went to a consultation with an orthodontist that my dentist recommended. I learned that the changes I wanted to make were minor, and could be reached in less than six months.  The orthodontist, a sweet woman in her forties, also made me feel better about doing something for me.

For so long, I worried what people would think about me for doing something that I considered vain.

I didn’t need to straighten my teeth for any reason other than my own vanity. In truth, I was self conscious about how I looked even though I desperately wanted not to care.

It’s an interesting aspect of self-care, which we identify often as doing yoga, drinking tea, or doing crafts.

But self-care is much more: it is consideration for what the self needs.

I wasn’t going to drastically alter my body, or do something someone else pressured me to do; I was choosing to make a change for myself that would help me feel more confident.

I told myself, I’m doing this for me. Once I said that to myself, and out loud, I felt better about my choice. I ignored the small voice that asked me to worry about what others would think.

I had the budget to afford the braces, and because I was doing it now while any gaps were minor, it was an easier fix. My teeth would only continue to shift as I get older. I’d rather take care of a minor gap issue now that bothers my vanity then have to worry in the long run about ruining my teeth because they’ve shifted in a way that they grind against each other awkwardly and wear off the enamel.

Would everyone would put this much thought into a “minor” fix? But I do, because that’s the kind of woman I am. I’m someone who is logical to a fault and analyzes everything. I am learning that it’s okay. It’s also okay to take the actions I need to help me feel strong and confident about who I am and what I’m doing.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Your confidence comes from within. Give yourself permission to find it.” quote=”Your confidence comes from within. Give yourself permission to find it.”]

Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes, and I have no one to answer to about that other than myself.

Now, I’m halfway through the process of Invisalign and I can see the physical shifts in my teeth. I am thrilled  be nearly finished with my treatment. Even more, I am confident in myself and my choices.