If I were a betting man, I’d bet you can count at least ten of your friends, family members, or acquaintances who currently have or have had braces. Straight, healthy smiles are everywhere, and many of them have braces to thank for that.
The orthodontic community is ever growing and has become somewhat of a phenomenon for pop culture. Memes, parody videos (ahem, *Taylor Swift*) and even Instagram pages are being set up to offer support, tips, and opinions on all things braces.
For quite some time, we’ve been following the Instagram account @Braces__101, ran by a regular teen who’s had braces and offers tips and content for current braces patients. Ashley is a 16-year-old junior in high school who enjoys playing the piano and guitar, shopping, and playing softball. She loves science, especially biology, and plans to major in it in college. During the school year, she enjoys volunteering in her community, especially helping out autistic-support classes every week at a local elementary school.
We took a few minutes to ask Ashley about her @Braces__101 Instagram page, which to date has over 7,400 followers. We asked everything from her personal braces experience to the likelihood of becoming an orthodontist herself. Read below to see what a real teen has to say about life with braces.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
A: I am a high school student, and the person behind the instagram account @braces__101. As a former braceface, I share tips, confession stories, and braces problem posts. Braces have a stigma of being a dreadful few years of your life, but I’m all about positivity as thousands of us journey through orthodontic treatment. My account is a place where people with braces can relate to each other, whether it be facing the same braces struggles or having the same appliances, etc.
Q: What made you so passionate about braces and orthodontic care?
My own experience with braces sparked my interest in braces and orthodontic care. I’m not sure exactly when I got so interested, but it was certainly not at the start of treatment because initially, I hated my braces, expander, and facemask. If I had to guess, I would say around eight or nine months into treatment, I started to gain interest. At that point, I started caring more about what exactly was going on in my mouth, and was curious as to why I needed certain things. From then on, my interest grew more.
Q: What made you decide to start @Braces__101?
A: I originally started @braces__101 for fun. Quite frankly it was a rainy Memorial Day and I was bored. I was only expecting to do it for a couple weeks, and I figured no one would follow anyways. But when two weeks came and I managed to gain 500 followers, I continued to post. The idea was to create some type of account that stretches back to the beginning of my orthodontic journey. When I heard I needed braces, I was a bit nervous. I wanted to know how they were put on and whether they would hurt, etc. so I turned to the video-sharing website that I was constantly on as a 6th (soon to be 7th grader): YouTube. There, I saw some videos of people that always updated about their journey.
I liked the idea of documenting the journey but I never actually started until eight months into treatment. I started making videos and writing in a journal detailing about my experience. I wanted to put my experience out there, so I thought… how about Instagram?! However, this idea of creating a braces Instagram account didn’t really hit me until the last month of braces because I had just joined Instagram for my personal use.
Q: What kind of braces did you have, and how long was your treatment?
A: My treatment was exactly 24 months (to the day!), and I had traditional metal braces. I also had an expander and a facemask.
Q: What was the best part of braces?
A: Probably the best parts of braces were seeing the improvement in my teeth and going to my appointments. I always looked forward to my appointments because to me, every appointment meant that I was one step closer to getting my braces off. Sticking with that positive mindset throughout treatment definitely motivated me to comply with my orthodontist’s instructions.
Q: What was the worst part of braces?
A: It’s a bit specific, but poking wires were my greatest enemies during braces. It seemed like every single time I would leave the office feeling good, but then a couple weeks later or so I would have a poking wire that would be tearing up my cheek. It was a pretty constant problem for me.
Q: What question are you asked the most on your profile?
A: Almost every day I get, “I’m getting braces soon. Can you give me tips? Does it hurt?” or something along those lines. My response is usually “the process of getting braces doesn’t hurt, but you’ll be sore a couple hours later. Stick to soft foods, take ibuprofen if needed, check out my ‘getting braces tips’ post, and ‘hungry but teeth sore?’ post. You’ll have to scroll a bit to find them. Good luck!”
Q: What are your plans for the future? Will you work in orthodontics?
A: I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I’m older. However, a career in orthodontics is definitely up there on my list of possible careers!
Q: What are your future plans for @Braces__101?
A: As of now, I plan to keep posting as long as my followers want me to. My list of post ideas is still very long, so no worries that I will run out of content to post about!
Q: What has been your most popular post on @Braces__101?
A: The post that I’ve received the most likes on is the “If braces could talk” post. Choosing my favorite post is difficult because I have many favorites! My top three favorite posts would have to be “Me at the orthodontist” with Anna from frozen (I think!) on it, “Vacation Essentials,” and “What I learned through my braces experience.”
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t helping over 7,000 braces patients with their questions and concerns when I was 16. I was probably playing video games, or maybe working on my basketball shot at home. Kudos to Ashley for all the hard work she has put into her page. If you have any questions for her, check out Ashley on Instagram, and if there are any other questions you have about braces, feel free to contact our Memphis office.