Author Topic: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?  (Read 8466 times)

yakface

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Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« on: February 17, 2014, 06:09:26 AM »
I'm wrestling with a mustachian dilemma at the moment. I am an early 30's professional, and am beginning to move up in my career. I am very good at my job and enjoy the work I do. One thing that is holding me back, however, is that I have some serious crowding/crookedness in my bottom teeth. It is to the point where I notice that coworkers and clients noticeably stare inside my mouth when I am talking. It is so distracting to me that I often forget where I am in conversation, and I've developed somewhat of a lisp because I try to talk without exposing my bottom teeth.

As much as I would like to believe that this stuff doesn't matter, and that you are judged 100% by the quality of your work, I know that this is not the reality. As my job becomes more and more important, I will be interacting with clients a lot more. I feel that if I do not get them fixed, I am seriously limiting my career potential. I am also afraid of finding myself at some point fighting both age discrimination and a less than stellar smile.

The problem, of course, is the cost to fix this. I received an invisalign quote for $7500. I would be willing to pay this because I see the investment in my career, but my wife is not quite on board. She agrees I could use some fixing, but doesn't see this as worth the money given that we have a bunch of student loan debt as well.

Any advice on how to think about this? Our household income is over 110k, and I know that would increase if I can fix this problem. It's just tough to stomach paying that much right now. But in the end, I will kick myself if never end up getting this done.

phred

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2014, 06:48:19 AM »
Get the teeth fixed.  Then, as your income increases, use the entire increase on the student loans.  As you've already found out,  appearances are important in a customer contact position.  Perhaps they shouldn't be, but they are.  This will be as much of an investment as college was.

Beardog

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2014, 08:24:26 AM »
I got my teeth fixed when I was 37.  It involved a surgical procedure and having my mouth wired shut for 6 weeks!  I agree with you that people are judged heavily on their appearance.  Correcting your teeth is well worth it.  Go for it!  I would suggest investigating other approaches to orthodontia such as metal braces and other older and less sexy technologies that might be cheaper.

windawake

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2014, 08:24:58 AM »
Get your teeth fixed now, it'll make you feel more confident and you'll have them forever. My mom is 51 and just got veneers. She hasn't liked her teeth for her whole life and that never changed. They look great now.

LibraTraci

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2014, 09:24:50 AM »
I wouldn't have any hesitation about spending the money if I were you.  My dentist says that straight teeth are healthy teeth (i.e. they're easy to clean, they don't hold food or bacteria, etc.) -- so, not just a cosmetic issue but rather a larger dental issue.

$7600 is nothing in the scheme of things, although I *love* that you have a wife that is financially smart -- she is a keeper, so you have to find some ways to persuade her or appease her!

Are there any spending areas you can cut until the dental expense has passed?  (Even small changes can have huge savings when you calculate them as lifetime savings.  Like, cutting cable or doing your weekly date-night at home rather than at a restaurant.) 



 

EUmustache

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2014, 01:41:36 PM »
I'm going through a similar debate right now... I've had a perm. retainer in my mouth for the past 12 years but it broke a few weeks ago. So far my orthodontist has been unable to fix it and is recommending a removable retainer which will cost about 600. I had braces as a kid - mostly for cosmetic reasons, and without my perm retainer, I'm already seeing my teeth shift towards their pre-braces locations. I don't NEED a new retainer, but I sure as hell don't want my teeth to return to how they used to look. I'm going back to the dentist tomorrow to see what they can do.

But I hear you on debating the merits of the cost, but I also know I'll kick myself if I don't do anything. Especially if I wait and revisit it in a few years and it ultimately ends up costing more. Ugh. 




MayDay

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2014, 02:12:47 PM »
I would do/spend pretty much anything to fix them.  Approved!

missundecided

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2014, 03:25:26 PM »
Look into Clear Correct; it's an off-brand version of Invisalign. Also, can you use your FSA or HSA to help defray some of the out-of-pocket costs?


4alpacas

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2014, 04:25:47 PM »
I'm wrestling with a mustachian dilemma at the moment. I am an early 30's professional, and am beginning to move up in my career. I am very good at my job and enjoy the work I do. One thing that is holding me back, however, is that I have some serious crowding/crookedness in my bottom teeth. It is to the point where I notice that coworkers and clients noticeably stare inside my mouth when I am talking. It is so distracting to me that I often forget where I am in conversation, and I've developed somewhat of a lisp because I try to talk without exposing my bottom teeth.

As much as I would like to believe that this stuff doesn't matter, and that you are judged 100% by the quality of your work, I know that this is not the reality. As my job becomes more and more important, I will be interacting with clients a lot more. I feel that if I do not get them fixed, I am seriously limiting my career potential. I am also afraid of finding myself at some point fighting both age discrimination and a less than stellar smile.

The problem, of course, is the cost to fix this. I received an invisalign quote for $7500. I would be willing to pay this because I see the investment in my career, but my wife is not quite on board. She agrees I could use some fixing, but doesn't see this as worth the money given that we have a bunch of student loan debt as well.

Any advice on how to think about this? Our household income is over 110k, and I know that would increase if I can fix this problem. It's just tough to stomach paying that much right now. But in the end, I will kick myself if never end up getting this done.

I'm not trying to discourage you from doing this, but I wanted to point out the obvious. Your coworkers probably don't notice or care about your teeth. I think you're self conscious, and you're manifesting an insecurity into a lisp. The coworkers and clients staring at your mouth are listening to you, not judging your crooked teeth.

Grateful Stache

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2014, 04:31:35 PM »
+1000 for getting them fixed. You need to feel good about yourself.

Rural

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 07:21:57 PM »
Quit worrying about it. They're not looking at your teeth. Trust me, no one is as interested in your mouth as you are. In fact, no one else is interested at all.

jamaicaspanish

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2014, 07:34:21 PM »
Is there a dental school near you?  You could save more than half the cost if you qualify for treatment there.  It's worth checking into.

fidgiegirl

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2014, 07:39:13 PM »
Wasn't clear from your OP if you are looking for more frugal ways to do this, but when I was a teen my mom got my orthodontia arranged at a large teaching university at their public clinic.  Because some element of it was kind of oddball, they took me on - not just any old person could go sign up, they had to agree to take you or not, so their students learned how to treat a large variety of routine and more unusual situations.  Not sure if it would be worth looking into for you, but it was somewhat less expensive than going to the orthodontist in town.

My coworker just had her teeth straightened and she feels better about herself, too.  I'd go for it.

marty998

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2014, 11:50:51 PM »
Just get it done. Seriously just do it and don't look back. You're not down to your last dollar. You can afford to spend a little cash on yourself.

More time you waste procrastinating the worse your teeth will get.

LibraTraci

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2014, 01:21:27 AM »
I'm curious:  how many sets of aligners is your price quote for? (if this isn't too personal a question)

Some people are absolutely against the idea of thinking outside the box (by going to a teaching school, by getting work done overseas, etc), but I think it may be worth comparing prices.  Can't hurt, right?   


   



Roses

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2014, 01:50:17 AM »
I know people who go to a town in Mexico called Algodones just outside of Yuma, Arizona, for all dental and vision work.  They swear it's very high quality work, though I haven't done it myself.  If I were in your situation I would do some research on that.  I don't know if this kind of treatment would be applicable since it may require multiple visits, but it would be worth doing a price comparison, including airfare & hotels. 

LibraTraci

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2014, 03:42:53 AM »
I know people who go to a town in Mexico called Algodones just outside of Yuma, Arizona, for all dental and vision work.  They swear it's very high quality work, though I haven't done it myself.  If I were in your situation I would do some research on that.  I don't know if this kind of treatment would be applicable since it may require multiple visits, but it would be worth doing a price comparison, including airfare & hotels.

That's where I was going with my comment too!  Getting work done out of country can be a serious savings. 

I also know a couple who got their dental work done out of country because it was much cheaper than in the US, even once the airfare had been factored in.  According to them, people do it all the time -- it's called a "dental vacation".  There are clinics in various countries that cater to Americans and Europeans -- you wouldn't just be going to some random dental practice in some random foreign town.

Side note:  I am personally considering having a gum graft done this fall at a clinic in Bangkok.  I have some familiarity with the country, and went to a clinic for a cleaning and a consult when I was there last, so it doesn't seem like an scary or outlandish idea to me at all.  I should be getting some exact quotes from a US doctor, and from a Thai clinic, over the next month or so.   

happy

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2014, 05:40:40 AM »
I think the first step is to determine whether this is purely cosmetic or not. If you have a bite problem, or the crowding is such that you are likely to end up with excessive wear, difficulty cleaning and cavities, then you should have them fixed. You only have one set of teeth and you might need them til you're 100:this is not a career decision, its a health decision .

BUT If its purely cosmetic:  firstly I agree with you, people notice teeth. I notice teeth. I'm not into status judgements, but  I notice teeth. Several examples immediately jump to mind where I downgraded colleagues  in my mind on the basis of teeth. Therefore in general if you are 30 and going for the max career until you are 60 or so...fix the teeth. BUT if you are a mustachian, stop and think.  How much longer are you going to work? 5 years, 10 years? Will the teeth really make that much difference to your income etc, if you are aiming at FIRE at a MMM level? I suspect not, if its just cosmetic and if you are really a frugalist. Thats the nice thing about mustachianism, we get to flout some of the rules coz we don't need them.

yakface

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2014, 06:02:22 AM »
Thanks everyone for the extremely helpful responses. This is validating my inclination to go ahead and do it. It's just really difficult to part with the $, as my wife and I have recently been introduced to this new way of thinking about money.

To answer a few of the questions posed back to me: it is so costly because my situation is complicated, with extreme crowding and a significant overbite. This has caused difficulty cleaning and occasional chewing injuries to the inside of my lip due to the bite problem. So I see this as equal parts cosmetic and health.

We currently have about $30k in savings, and are putting away 1k a month or so. We'd like to improve that, which we will soon by knocking out some student loans. So we're not hurting by any means, but we'd like to crush our debts sooner rather than later.

As to the career vs retire early question. I would love to retire early, and we are looking at ways to do that. However, I don't know what the future holds, and I enjoy the work I do right now. So I'd like to do what I can, while I'm still doing it, to maximize my chances of success.

lizzzi

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2014, 07:15:31 AM »
Fix your teeth. For both health reasons and cosmetic reasons, you need to do it. I needed braces, but my parents could not afford it, and did not investigate whether there were any cheaper options. I was so tired of well-meaning but stupid people saying, "You would be such a pretty girl if it weren't for your teeth." So at 21, after I had finished college and was working full-time,  (Associates degree in nursing, no student loan debt because I worked 3 part-time jobs while in school), I went to the orthodontist and had it taken care of--he told me that the crowding and pushing my teeth forward because my mouth was narrow, was going to result in cavities and decay because I could not clean them properly. Even from the first few adjustments and with a mouth full of metal, I looked better than I had before. Do it. Approved.

Dr. A

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2014, 07:33:51 AM »
I had horribly crowded teeth that my parents couldn't/wouldn't fix when I was a kid, and the $7,000 I spent in my early 20's was well worth it, in my opinion. The primary reasons are:

1. As bad as my teeth were, I simply could not clean them correctly. Flossing was basically impossible, and there were some areas that I just couldn't get to. My teeth are much cleaner and healthier since I straightened them out, which (hopefully) will save me much expensive dental work in the future.

2. I became anal retentive about taking care of my teeth, once I sunk thousands of dollars into them. The idea of going a half-day without brushing causes me physical pain, because of the idea that I might have wasted so much money on something I'm not willing to take care of.

TreeTired

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2014, 08:53:07 AM »
My teeth were perfect after braces at age 14.

I stepped on (and broke) my retainer and was too scared to tell my parents.

My teeth got more and more crooked -  noticeably by age 18, and it got to bother me in my 20s.


At age 26,  at my own expense  I re-did my upper teeth.


I am still wearing my retainer 30+ years later,  every night


The moral of the story:   Kids,  wear your retainer!!!!!

HappierAtHome

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2014, 12:07:21 AM »
I'm almost done with my invisalign, which cost my $10k.

I would do it again tomorrow.

People have honestly been treating me differently as my teeth get straighter. And some make open comments about how I look a lot better with straight teeth.

It's one of those things that shouldn't influence your career... but it does.

I say do it!

plainjane

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2014, 06:13:58 AM »
Teeth are one of the key indicators of your socio-economic status in North America today.  If you are a professional, bad teeth will hold you back in your career, which will cost you more in the long term.  Is it surmountable? Yes.  But it isn't worth it.

Plus you're self-conscious about them, which is hurting your performance.  Get them done.

MayDay

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2014, 07:04:03 AM »
I will also throw out that yes, I notice bad teeth.  I try not to judge but it's hard. 

Also, I got my braces at about age 12.  Thank you mom and dad, I know they couldn't really afford it and put it on credit.  I still have to wear a retainer every night or my teeth move.  I break it about every 5 years, and it is about 100$ for a new one.  Still have a permanent one on my bottom teeth too.  So definitely count on continuing to wear it forever, and don't get lazy if you lose it or break it! 

TrulyStashin

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2014, 12:09:10 PM »
Is there a dental school near you?  You could save more than half the cost if you qualify for treatment there.  It's worth checking into.

+1   Both my kids got braces at the dental/ orthodontia school and it was about $3k cheaper than private sector, with interest free payments.

The downside was that they were traditional braces, but that's really not that big of a deal.

Do it.  Dental health is a very important part of overall health.

greaper007

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2014, 12:12:07 PM »
Screw it, just move to England and you'll totally fit in.

MicroRN

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2014, 12:42:13 PM »
I'm debating that myself.  I had extensive orthodontia done to get my mouth perfect when I was a teen, but in the past 10 years my teeth have gotten badly crooked again.  To top that off, due to tetracycline when I was very young, they've always been discolored in a way that regular bleaching treatments won't do anything about.  I'm very self-conscious about them, and am considering realignment and deep bleaching.   

StarryC

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2014, 08:36:17 PM »
Make sure you get at least another quote.  It might be the same, or more expensive, but it might be cheaper.  Orthodontists definitely compete on price and set their prices, so it's not quite like other medical procedures.

Also, if you have cash saved up and insurance won't cover, be sure to ask about no-insurance/cash discounts/ paid up front discounts.   

Some people assume your dental won't cover it, but many will cover 50% or something up to a lifetime limit of $1000.  That won't be all of it, but a $1000 "discount" is pretty good. 

And, it sounds like you are relatively high income.  If you can, using the flexible spending account can save a lot.  If you are in the 25% tax bracket it's a 25% discount, right?  Also, you don't have to wait until all the money is in the FSA to spend it- so if your year starts in January and you can pay in over 12 months, you can start the process in January. 

(I'm on team do it.)

crumbcatcher

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2014, 12:36:09 PM »
Make sure you get at least another quote.  It might be the same, or more expensive, but it might be cheaper.  Orthodontists definitely compete on price and set their prices, so it's not quite like other medical procedures.

Also, if you have cash saved up and insurance won't cover, be sure to ask about no-insurance/cash discounts/ paid up front discounts.   

Some people assume your dental won't cover it, but many will cover 50% or something up to a lifetime limit of $1000.  That won't be all of it, but a $1000 "discount" is pretty good. 

And, it sounds like you are relatively high income.  If you can, using the flexible spending account can save a lot.  If you are in the 25% tax bracket it's a 25% discount, right?  Also, you don't have to wait until all the money is in the FSA to spend it- so if your year starts in January and you can pay in over 12 months, you can start the process in January. 

(I'm on team do it.)

I totally agree with the above advice.  I am just finishing up my Invisalign treatment, but I was lucky enough to be able to double-up on a one-time deal with my dental insurance and company-matched FHA.  All total it was $5000 and I paid $0 out of pocket.  I'm 42 and this was something I'd wanted to do since I first started getting adult teeth.

Definitely shop around - don't just accept the first quote.  Different dentists and orthodontists charge different fees, sometimes to the tune of thousands.

Have you looked into orthodontia options other than Invisalign?  I know it's the easiest on the eyes, but what they don't always tell you is that it very often isn't invisble - most patients need to still get little attachments on their teeth to create the torque necessary for the aligners to move the teeth.  Mine were far from invisble.  What about the clear braces, porcelain ones, or the traditional kind set on the back side of the teeth?  There are several options to research.

It really does improve your confidence to have something you are very self-conscious about corrected.  Even if no one else notices your teeth (which is questionable), having additional confidence and smiling more can do a lot for advancing your career.  I'm so glad I went through with it.  Even from a non-financial perspective, it was a big committment.

Good luck!



ritchie70

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2014, 11:09:58 PM »
Have them fixed. My parents had mine straightened out - I had braces from 8th grade through almost all of high school - and I'm glad they did. I actually had quite a number of teeth removed to make room, so it can get pretty radical.

My wife's are a crooked mess and I know she hates them but I don't think she's up for the discomfort and inconvenience, never mind the cost.

plantingourpennies

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2014, 07:13:06 AM »
That sounds high compared to what I was quoted for Invisalign.  Also, have you considered just going the traditional metal braces route which might cost a lot less?  I know people in very client facing roles that did this in their late 20's - early 30's and the metal braces weren't looked down on, just a matter of course.

rockstache

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Re: Adult Orthodontia - anti-mustachian?
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2014, 09:12:15 AM »
I am in my lower 30s and in a professional job, and I have metal braces. I have been amazed how many of my clients I noticed that also have braces. I guess I just never noticed until I got them myself. Anyway, they were much cheaper than the Invisalign, and now I am hopefully looking at getting them off in a couple of months. I think it was worth it. Good luck!