Apr 26

Lessons from my Braces

Speaker: Pei Geok


PG P2Good evening distinguished guests and fellow toastmasters. Today I will be sharing some valuable lessons with you which I learned from this dental treatment, braces, which can be applicable to both personal and professional relationships and lives.

I started wearing braces in Apr 2013 and as you can see and I am still wearing them. I have always wanted to do braces, not because I like to have my teeth in metal brackets or to make my teeth the centre of attention in photos by reflecting the flash from the camera. More fundamentally I was not happy with how my teeth looked back then. I had one extra tooth on the bottom row of my teeth because God decided to give me one extra tooth, resulting in overcrowding. The teeth on the upper row weren’t perfect either. They were too big resulting in one of them making sacrifices and taking a step back from its bigger brothers and sisters.

As you all know, dental treatments in Singapore are not cheap so I held back this wish of mine. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family who can afford to pay for my braces so I bided my time till I started working. Even when I started working, the thought of spending $4 – 5K was too daunting and I shelved the idea. I asked people who were on braces about their treatments and the cost, hoping to find a cheaper option. It was only until I talked to a friend and realised that there was a really cheap option: be a guinea pig at the NUS Dentistry Graduate program. This option only cost me $2.2k excluding GST. This is my first lesson of the day: when there’s a will there’s a way. If you look hard enough you will find a glimmer of hope elsewhere where you didn’t expect it.

When I first started the treatment I received much feedback from others. Suddenly you will realize a lot of people have done braces before. Many told me that I will have ulcers due to the abrasion of the braces with my cheeks. I will also not be able to eat much vegetable because they tend to stick on the braces, making unsightly appearances at my friends. I will need to wear retainers for the rest of my life. This fact is horrifying to me as I have already had this treatment for 2 years and I still need to be stuck with retainers for the rest of my life? For those looking at weight loss programs, you will like this next part: you will lose weight from the treatment as you need to go for teeth tightening every month and you will not be able to eat then. Disclaimer: this weight loss program is not for those who love to eat. The best feedback of all was from my mum: so old already still do braces! I must say this is sadly true because braces tend to be associated with teenagers. You often see school kids and university students wearing braces and only a handful of working adults wearing them. At that time it was too late for me to stop the treatment for I have already extracted five good teeth and I couldn’t possibly say that I want to stop the treatment with the obvious gaps.

To top it off, my dentist gave me a warning when she fixed the brackets on my teeth. For those who were here last month, you might remember my incident of my front tooth fracture where I fell off my bicycle at Paya Lebar MRT and landed flat on my face. The application of braces moves the teeth as a result of force and pressure on the teeth. This application of pressure and force on my teeth, especially the tooth fracture, may cause my fractured tooth to die. When I heard it I was like “What!? Why didn’t you mention it earlier?” The moral of the above examples is: There is a calculated risk in everything you do. The question is can you live with it?

1.5 years went by and I had my fair share of ulcers, porridge and soft food, vegetables and noodles waving happily at my friends when I talked or smiled after meals. Currently I am towards the end of the treatment. My dentist gave my teeth some finishing touches by filing my teeth, especially my tigress canines so I would look less aggressive. I must say dentists are always bad news. While she was cleaning my teeth recently, she informed me that I had to live with the gaps at the bottom of my teeth as I did not clean my teeth properly resulting in the buildup of plaque and thus the gaps. Unlike the upper gums, which can fill up the gaps between the upper teeth, the lower gums cannot grow upwards and fill up the gaps. Human beings being visual creatures, I only cleaned what I could see. Don’t judge a book by its cover or in this case, judge your teeth by its state for there are countless bacteria lurking in your mouth, waiting for its chance. The lesson learnt here is: As the dental saying goes, Dentistry is not expensive, neglect is which I do agree and only realize at a very much later stage of my life. I suppose this is largely due to my family’s upbringing for my parents emphasize on our 3 meals and sleep rather than on cleaning our teeth.

In total, I have shared three valuable lessons with you: 1. When there’s a will there’s a way. Don’t give up when you face problems at home or at work. 2. There will always be a risk in everything you do. For example, even when you cross the road, there is always a remote possibility that you will die from crossing the road. Live life to the fullest, make your decisions and live with them. 3. Take good care of your teeth. Lastly, I would like to end off my morbid speech with the following quote from Mallory Hopkins: Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.

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