Perspective from a Man in His 50s - Albuquerque, NM

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I am a 53 year old man that has worn braces 3...

I am a 53 year old man that has worn braces 3 times, had teeth pulled and double jaw orthognathic surgery. Was it worth it? Maybe, if I would have made the right decisions.
Firstly, I've always had a narrow jaw. I had braces when I was about 13 years old with the headgear and retainers etc. My teeth were straightened, and I enjoyed being attractive enough to gave girlfriends, but didn't think much about my teeth.
When I was about 20, I had all 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed.
I was always complemented on my smile, but, as an adult, I noticed that my teeth were crowded and a little askew. So when I was 40, I went in for a free consult, and was shocked to discover that my bite was terrible. I also had an "open bite". The doctor recommended braces (again) followed by double jaw orthognathic surgery. I had a good job, and had dreams of being very handsome, and kind of didn't like my weak jaw in profile, so I eventually decided to go down this very arduous road.
A few comments here: I realize now that people can be very attractive without perfect teeth. I was also totally unprepared for how much different I would look after the surgery. And though the imperfections of my bite and jawline were "fixed", I prefer the pre-surgery "me" look. It has been 12 years since I lost my look, and I have accepted it, and realized it's not a bad look. But, I lost something by taking such a drastic step. It has been the most difficult part of this journey. And I think I was the least prepared for this result of the process.
So back to the braces. I was told it would be a two year process. but, it was more than 3 before I was ready for surgery. As I said I have a narrow jaw. So, in order to be done with all of this sooner, I let them talk me into getting another 4 healthy teeth pulled. This was a huge mistake. The best option would have been to have had my jaw expanded when I was 13 years old so all of my natural teeth would have fit in my mouth. But, this wasn't available (offered) 40 years ago. Oh well. It is now, and if this is one of your issues, I strongly recommend you expand your jaw. A wide, full smile with healthy gums is the most attractive, healthy option. My teeth are now straight, and my bite is correct, but my smile is narrow, and nobody ever says I have a great smile since my surgery.
So, finally I had the surgery. It was a challenging recovery. I was mostly numb in the area of my right lower lip for a few years. The nerves have gradually come back there over the last 12 years to the point where I am now at about 50% sensation there. Also, I have less sensation on the entire upper gums, maybe 75% of what i had pre-surgery. To this day, I sometimes bite my lip while chewing and it results in a painful cold sore lasting a week and drives me nuts, and makes me angry that the surgeon "caused" this.
I look different. Some still say handsome. I used to have a big toothy smile, that though imperfect, lit up a room. Now, when I smile naturally, it looks good, but doesn't stand out. This can be good, or bad, depending on your personality. I miss the big smile personally.
Once I got my braces removed, I was so ready to move on, at 43, after having spent 6 years of my life in braces. But, after a few weeks, I started experiencing bad jaw pain and headaches, and went back to the orthodontist. He concluded that the two jaws were so close together (perfect - no gap), that in order to prevent bumping the front teeth when I would bite, my jaw muscles had to hold my lower jaw back, and that was causing the problem. A little gap is good. I had none. Solution: Back into braces for the third time to move the upper teeth out a bit. Another 18 moths later, problem solved, braces gone.
Final thoughts: As a result of having braces for a total of 7+ years, my gums receded quite a bit. My roots are somewhat exposed. So, my bite is now correct, but my teeth are looooong, and my gums are sensitive and not so healthy. Ugggh.
What a process. If you are an adult, and look reasonably good, and your bite is fair, just live with it. Too many teeth is preferable to too few. If you get this stuff done, do it early in life, and do it right, so you only have to do it one time. Be less aggressive rather than too aggressive. of course, if you have real issues that make you so self-conscious that you can't enjoy your life, you should probably try to fix it. But, perfection is a bad thing to pursue. As a man, i can tell you that I have been attracted to many different women in my life. Some had crowded teeth, or bucked teeth, flat chests, weird noses. Those quirks were attractive. it's hard as a young person to not be self-conscious. As an adult, you will grow out of that. Love who you are, and be happy. That genuineness is the most attractive thing any person can ever have.
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