It plays out like a horror film. You’re in the chair at the dentist having a routine check-up, then they lean over you, their masked faces eclipsing the blinding light overhead, and mumble the words no teenager wants to hear: “You need braces”. Dun dun duuuuun.

Of course, the chances are you’ve known braces were on the cards for a while, but that didn’t stop you secretly hoping your teeth would somehow get it together and sort themselves out, right? Because, let’s be honest, no one wants braces.

But while there’s a lot of doom and gloom around them (no-one’s gonna expect you to be cheerful about it), they’re not the total worst. Trust me on this – I’ve had braces twice.

Plus, if this is to be your dental destiny, you’re in good company. The likes of Gwen Stefani, Emma Watson, Estelle and even Miley Cyrus have all rocked tinsel teeth at some point in their careers, and more than 200,000 people under 18 get braces every year in the UK. So you’re not alone.

Here’s everything you need to know to book your ticket to Straight Smile City.

What do braces do?

Braces work by gradually moving the position of your teeth. They’re mainly known for straightening crooked teeth, but they can be fitted for a bunch of other things too, such as correcting over/underbites, to make space for misbehaving wisdom teeth or to help fix jaw problems.

What types of braces are there?

You’re probably most familiar with the ol’ metal train track braces – these are the most common and the ones usually offered by the NHS to patients under 18. But thanks to cool developments in science and technology, they’re no longer the only orthodontic option.

You can also get white braces (like the metal ones but less visible), clear braces (which are basically like invisible, removable gum shields) and back braces (which are worn behind the teeth). These other options are only available privately though, which means they’re pricey, and they aren’t suitable for everyone.

How long are they worn for?

This really depends on your own dental sitch. The NHS gives an average of 18 months to two years, but it could be longer (or shorter) based on the work you need doing. I first got braces when I was 14 and – full disclaimer – my teeth were a mess, so I had them for about two and a half years. The second time around, at the grand age of 29, I just needed a few adjustments so it only took four months.

Why did I get braces for a second time, you ask? Because after my first lot of treatment I was given a retainer to wear to stop my teeth from shifting back into their original position (because that’s what teeth like to do, apparently). And guess what? I didn’t wear the retainer. ALWAYS WEAR THE RETAINER.

Are they difficult to look after?

If you’re normally on top of your dental hygiene then you’re golden. That said, the little brackets and wires do make it harder to give your teeth a really good clean. You want to make sure you’re getting rid of the bits of food and plaque that can build up around the metal, otherwise you might be left with a bit of staining when your braces eventually come off. You can buy pipe-cleaner-style flossing sticks that are really good for this (your dentist will tell you which ones are best for you).

Also, avoid toothpaste or mouthwash that have whitening agents in them – they might make the bits of teeth you can see a few shades lighter, but they won’t reach the bits of enamel behind the brackets, so you’ll end up with discolouration.

Do they interfere with everyday life?

Ok, real talk. When you first get braces your mouth is going to feel weird, but you get used to it really quickly and pretty soon they’re just ‘there’. No biggie. There are some foods you should probably avoid – anything really crunchy or chewy for example – and it’s a good idea to carry a compact mirror with you for inconspicuous food-in-teeth checks (although tbh your mobile phone will work just as well).

Oh, and despite all the Hollywood horror stories, you’re really unlikely to get tangled in another set of braces when it comes to kissing, so don’t let them get in the way of your love life.

Do they hurt?

I’ll be honest with you, they do hurt a bit when you first get them on, and then after each time you get them adjusted (which is usually every 4-6 weeks) – your teeth are literally moving in your skull, after all! But it soon settles down. A couple of regular painkillers and a liberal smearing of Bonjela (yep, the baby teething gel) works a treat – and stick to soft foods for a day or two.

You might also find that your lips, gums and insides of your cheeks take a bit of a battering, which isn’t really a surprise since your mouth is suddenly full of metal! Again, though, these soft areas will soon toughen up. Invest in a really good lip balm and keep the Bonjela to hand. Plus, your dentist will give you a special type of wax which can be rolled into little balls and smoothed over any jagged bits.

Are they actually worth it?

That’s really up to you to decide, but the fact is there’s no better time in your life to get braces than in your teens. You’re still growing so your teeth are more malleable, everyone else is having it done, and thanks to the NHS, it’s free!

Yep, there will be times during the treatment that you’ll want to rip them clean out of your mouth – but when they finally come off and you run your tongue over your smooth straight teeth for the first time in ages, you’ll be so so glad you stuck with it.
Just remember to wear the retainer. Seriously.

@RachelEngland

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Does anyone actually look forward to their period? We’ve all heard of those mythical girls who barely notice their flow and claim to actually feel better when they’re on, but for most of us, a week of spots, rage, killer cramps and the rest ain’t loadsa fun.

If you reckon that the only reason to count down to your period is to work out when it’ll all be over, then we’ve got news for you: it doesn’t actually have to be that bad. Check out these seven ways to make your period something to look forward to.

1. Guilt-free snackage

You have 75% of your life to worry about whether or not you should eat just one more spoon of peanut butter/Nutella/Dairylea spread, but this is not the time for that.

It’s not because calories don’t count while you’re on your period (total fake news), but if a few extra goodies take your mind off feeling like a limp lettuce leaf, then go on – treat yo’self. Remember that healthy snacks like bananas and nuts are great for boosting energy, too.

2. Dress to impress no one

Want to wear massive, holey dungarees, your mum’s gardening jumper and a pair of slipper socks? That’s an acceptable OOTD right there. Or is a dressing gown and a beanie you bought with your pocket money on a school trip to the zoo in 2005 more your style? Girl, you look fresh.

How about leggings that are bobblier than a bunch of bobble hats but are just way too soft to throw away? Pop them right on! There’s only one trend you should be bothered about at this time of the month: #COSY.

3. Be a human hedgehog

On days when even crawling up to your bed feels like a bit of an effort, why not indulge in a spot of sofa hibernation? Wrap yourself in every blanket you can find, curl up in a big fuzzy ball, fire up Netflix and watch episodes 1-12 of whatever the hell you want without moving.

On a normal day that might feel a bit lazy, but when it’s your period, it’s allowed. We say so.

4. Nice one, bod

Hooray, your body is doing a great job! It might be a pain, but your period’s arrival each month means that your insides are doing exactly what they’re meant to do.

Usually, it means you’re a healthy weight (as being under or overweight can affect your cycle), that you’re not pregnant (although some women’s periods continue while pregnant) and it’s your body’s way of having a little spring clean. Party time!

5. Be a girl

Getting your period is one big fat reminder of the fact that you’re a woman and even if this is a slightly sucky way to be reminded of it, you can’t deny it: being a girl rocks. If you’re super-feminine and love being able to dress up, or if you like lifting weights to feel strong, or if you’re all about building a kick-ass girl tribe, now is the best time of all to celebrate.

Whether you look up to Malala, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama or Kylie Kardashian, your little red friend is here to remind you that you, like them, can do anything!

6. Give yourself a break

As tiredness rules and hormones are raging, you might find yourself being a liiiittle bit unreasonable at times. While it’s never great to feel like you’re not being your best version of yourself, no one says the right thing 100% of the time.

Your hormones get a bit wonky during this time of the month and can make you act in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. If you slip up and snap someone’s head off, don’t sweat it: just say sorry (this is key!) and move on. Definitely don’t dwell on it because you have way more important things to be doing (like making a hot choc and having an early night).

7. It’s a time to focus on you

While not everyone feels wiped out by their period, it’s not unusual to crave a bit of downtime at home. It’s totally annoying to have to change plans just so you can lie around, but if you do have to, then make the most of it!

Life can get so jam-packed with mates, school, work and parties that there’s never time to try baking muffins, putting together some outfits or writing to your MP about something that’s making you mad. Make your period work for you!

8. It’s time for a little treat to plop onto your doormat

Need we even point out one of the coolest things of all to happen at this time of the month… It’s your bettybox, of course!

bettybox subscribers get a bunch of goodies including beauty products from brands you love, sweet treats and your choice of period protection, perfectly timed to arrive when you need it most. Find out more here!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Gone on the pill because your skin is playing up, or your periods are reaaaaally heavy? It can be a bit of a lifesaver, tbh. But if you’ve still got a load of questions about how it affects your body, or what happens to your monthly flow when you’re taking it, look no further. Here’s everything you NTK…

The pill stops you ovulating

The most common way the pill works is by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation). You’ll probably remember from biology that periods happen each month if an egg is released but not fertilised, so when the pill stops your ovaries from releasing an egg each month, it technically means you don’t get periods at all.

There’s usually still a bleed though (sorry!)

Even though you don’t get a real period, you’ll still experience monthly bleeding that’s similar to having your period. It’s officially called a “withdrawal bleed” but, whatever you want to call it, your fake period is usually lighter, more regular, and less painful than a normal period.

When you first go on the pill, you might also get a bit of spotting (bleeding between periods) but this should settle down. If it doesn’t, speak to your nurse or GP.

The type of pill will affect if/when you bleed

There are two main types of contraceptive pill: the combined pill, which contains a mixture of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen, and the progestogen-only pill (POP, or mini pill), which – as the name suggests – only contains progestogen.

On the combined pill, you’ll take a hormone pill every day for three weeks, and then have a seven-day break. Your bleed happens at some point during that break, when your body is withdrawing from the hormones.

If you’re taking the most common type of combined pill (brands like Microgynon, Brevinor and Cilest), you won’t take any pill at all during your hormone-free week – so remember to start your next pack on time at the end of it. Some types of pill are known as every day (ED) pills. They work in the same way, but you take dummy pills (placebos) during your hormone-free week.

On the POP, you take a pill every day and don’t have a break between packs. Some (but not all) types of POP prevent ovulation, but the effect on your period can vary a bit more than with the combined pill.

The pill can also help with PMS and those pesky pre-period breakouts

Again, it depends on the type and how your body reacts to it, but the pill can help to reduce PMS symptoms like mood swings and acne breakouts. Unfortunately, it can also cause those things as its own side effect, so there’s a bit of trial and error involved in finding the pill that works best for you.

“We would normally start with a simple combined pill and see how you get on for at least three months,” explains Sue Burchill, Head of Nursing at sexual health charity Brook. “Because you’re introducing hormones, your body is more likely to react at first, so your skin or PMS may get slightly worse, but these side effects may well improve.” If the side effects don’t settle down after three months, do go back to your nurse or GP about trying another option – your body might react horribly to one brand but get on absolutely fine with another.

You can use the pill to control your periods

The best thing about your hormone-free week is always knowing when your period’s going to show up. No more being caught out without a tampon or pad! For me, it usually starts on the fourth day of my pill break, and finishes on the day I start my next pack – but it might be totally different for you.

You can also use the combined pill to avoid bleeding at all, by taking two or more packs back-to-back, without the usual break in between. Don’t want your period putting a downer on your winter holiday, or sabotaging that gymnastics competition? Just start taking your next pack as soon as you’ve finished the previous one, and you basically get a free pass on that month. “It’s fine not to have a period every month,” Sue says, although you might still get a bit of spotting, or breakthrough bleeding, when running the packs together.

This method can also be handy if you’re forgetful about taking the pill every day. “If you miss pills, your body’s not going to know what’s going on, so it can be easier to remember if you run packs back-to-back,” Sue explains. “It’s absolutely safe to do this and there are different regimes you can follow to manage it. Your doctor or nurse will explain which one to use.”

If in doubt, ask an expert

Hormones are complicated, and everyone reacts differently, so make sure you talk through the options and side effects with a nurse or GP, either at your local surgery or sexual health clinic. “Do not just use your friend’s pills!” says Sue. “Your doctor or nurse will ask questions to make sure you’re safe, but remember that it’s a confidential service where you can get information and advice,” she adds. If you’re concerned about anything – from abnormal bleeding to long-term side effects – get it checked out.

For more information on the pill, visit Brook.org.uk or go to your local GP surgery or sexual health clinic.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

1. So, you, like, don’t eat meat?

No. That’s what the word means.

Although… you eat fish so I’m technically a pescetarian but you tend just to say vegetarian because otherwise you sound like a twat.

2. Oh, so you’re not a *real* vegetarian then? 

*Under your breath*: Oh god, here we go…

No, you’re am one of those half breeds. The mud-blood of vegetarianism. The Cockapoo of dietary requirements. You are not worthy of your respect and to prove that, you will accept the ridiculous title of ‘pescetarian’.

3. Do you eat cheese and onion crisps through? Because THEY have animal product in them.

This one is particularly annoying because while five seconds ago, they were annoyed about your vegetarianism, they are now positively enraged that you have such poor moral judgement. “YOU EAT JELLY?!” They cry, as they take a bite into their lamb laksa. Like, dude, you’re eating a baby sheep, and that’s totally fine, but tone down the judgement, ok?

4. Wait, did you say you ate jelly? You know jelly has gelatin in it, right? 

Yes, you do. Because you are a terrible vegetarian and an awful human. You also eat Parmesan. And wear leather shoes. I know, I know, you deserve to die in the fiery pits of hell.

5. But, whyyyyy?

There is no right answer to this question. Not one. If you say that you are concerned about animal rights and you think that the way we transport meat is bad for the environment, then… Oh, ok, yep, now they’re looking at you like you’re insane.

Or if you say, ‘Oh, I just don’t really like meat,’ which leads to…

6. What?! You don’t like meat?!

No, because you’re a mutant who also doesn’t like puppies or baby hedgehogs (what? They’re cute) and you never cry when you’re watching the Titanic. You always cry when you watch The Titanic.

7. So you’re not “one of those” vegetarians?

See, now you’re a vegetarian again. It’s so confusing.

8. What about chicken though?

Well, chickens are traditionally seen as animals…so…um…yeah….not so much of the chicken. Or chicken stock. Or beef stock. And before you ask, yes wafer thin ham does count as meat. Your life is officially more ridiculous than the scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

9. But what about Christmas?

When people say this, they’re not actually talking about Christmas, they’re talking about turkey. Like when people say they “having a funny tummy,” they don’t mean their stomach has suddenly developed a wicked sense of humour.  There has never been a conversation had between a vegetarian (ok, ok pescatarian) and a non-vegetarian that hasn’t at some point included a discussion about turkey.

10. How long have you been a vegetarian for?

If you say less than two years, people will dismiss this as “a phase”, like hooped earrings or a full moon. If you say anything over two years they will look at you with something bordering on respect before adding, “You know, I was a vegetarian once,” or often, “I thought about being a vegetarian once,” for which you must politely say, “Oh, really!” as if it’s an even mildly interesting fact.

After this conversation you’ll feel like a lie down. And maybe a plate of a bacon.

@LilyPesch

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Ever had an ingrown toenail? They’re the worst, right? So painful, so unsightly, so likely to have your mum attacking your feet with her clippers when she finds out… Ouch.

In a bid to end this pain and suffering, we asked Emma Stevenson – a podiatrist from The College Of Podiatry – for her advice on treating and avoiding ingrown toenails. Bonus: it’s probably a great excuse to buy some new shoes.

What exactly is an ingrown toenail?

“An ingrowing toenail is a nail that pierces the flesh of the toe. It can feel as if you have a splinter, be inflamed, or infected. Ingrowing toenails most commonly affect the big toe, but can affect the other toes as well.”

What are the most common causes?

“There are many genetic factors which can make you prone to ingrowing toenails, including posture and the way you walk. Toenails may also have a natural tendency to splay or curl out instead of growing straight, encouraging nails to grow outwards or inwards into the flesh. One of the most common causes, however, is cutting toenails too short. Other causes include tight fitting footwear and excessive moisture.”

Are they dangerous?

“Not usually, but they can be very uncomfortable and in severe cases – if left untreated – can lead to infection. It is best to see a podiatrist early and not to try and remove it yourself, which can cause more damage, and risk infection.”

How should they be treated? Can I do it myself at home?

“Our advice is to see a podiatrist as soon as you think you have an ingrowing toenail. Podiatrists have special nail clippers that can easily clip this bit of nail off for you. If you leave it too long though, and it becomes badly ingrown and infected, you may need a small operation just to remove the spike of nail. Your podiatrist can give you anaesthetic to take away the pain while they trim the nail back for you. They can show you how to avoid it happening again in the future and you should have no more problems. To relieve discomfort at home, you can bathe your foot in salt water, which can help to prevent infection. A sterile dressing can then be applied. Resting your foot as much as possible can also help.”

Is there any way to get rid of them for good?

“Cutting your nails properly will almost certainly help. It’s best to use nail nippers, rather than nail cutters, because they have a smaller cutting blade and a longer handle. Cut your nails straight across and don’t cut too low at the edge or down the side. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. It is better to cut your nails after a bath or shower when they are much softer. Good hygiene can go a long way to preventing ingrowing toenails. Avoid moist, soggy feet by rotating your footwear so each pair has a chance to dry out thoroughly. Avoid man-made materials (synthetics) and wear socks and shoes made of natural fibre, which fit properly. Keep your feet clean and dry, and in the summer try to wear open-toed sandals to let air get to your toes as much as possible.”

 

Image: Katie Edmunds

For more information about foot health and to find a podiatrist near you, visit www.feetforlife.org.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

You know your period? That friend that shows up every month, whether you want it to or not, and stays for about a week. It may eat you out of house and home, or occasionally make you want to curl up and die, but it isn’t unfamiliar. From the first telltale cramp to that final uncomfortable tampon, you know your period inside-out.

Or do you? Unsurprisingly, periods are complicated business, scientifically and historically speaking. So sit back and let us hit you with some AMAZING PERIOD FACTS.

Sitting comfortably? Well, just wait.

1. You can get your PERIOD in your NOSE

Okay, well, you probably won’t, but it’s called ‘vicarious menstruation‘ and it involves bleeding from somewhere that isn’t your uterus. Women have bled from their eyes, noses and even lungs during their periods, and it occurs because your blood capillaries all over your body soften during menstruation, and sometimes allow blood to come out. It’s okay, it’s very, very rare.

2. Periods are more painful in the cold

Cold weather can also make your period last longer and be heavier. Hooray for living on an island stuck between the Atlantic and the chilly North Sea! Let’s all move to Spain!

3. You sound uglier during your moon time

NB: This is not us dissing you, this is science. Researchers tested the same women’s voices at different times of the month, and participants could identify not only when the women were on their period – purely from listening to their voices – but also that they sounded ‘less attractive’ when they were.

4. Periods can make you stupidererer

Researchers at the University of Bath have found that women’s cognitive abilities actually take a slight dive during menstruation. Here’s the link to the study so you can send it to your teacher next time they say you’re less than stellar.

5. Humans, humpback whales and elephants are the only animals that go through menopause

Hey, Moby Dick and Dumbo! Menopause REPRESENT!

6. But only the macaque monkey has anything close to a human menstrual cycle, at 29 days

So remember to fistbump the next macaque monkey you see!

7. You don’t bleed as much as you think you do

Yes, although on bad days it can feel like a gory horror movie in your underpants, you actually only lose about a cup of blood per period. The rest of it is bits of your uterine lining and (sorry) mucus.

8. Some women have longer cycles than others because their eggs are lazy

Well, not lazy, but some people’s cycles take 31 days because, after ovulation, their eggs take the scenic route travelling down the fallopian tubes to the uterus.

9. Those clots? They’re made by CONTRACTIONS

Yes, contractions like labour contractions. When you have period cramps, your uterus contracts. When this happens very frequently it can stop your blood from thinning out before it comes out, resulting in clots. (Don’t worry, a few 5p-sized clots a day is totally normal.)

10. In fact, your body mimics pregnancy symptoms in the run-up to your period

Cramping, nausea, tiredness, bloating, abdominal pain, bad moods, sensitive breasts and out-of-control appetites. The symptoms of PMS are astonishingly close to those of early pregnancy, so basically a) give yourself a break if your period is on its way, and b) be nice to a pregnant lady today.

11. And, talking of pregnancy, you can get pregnant during your period

Sperm can live for up to five days in the vagina, so if you ovulate soon after your period, you could technically get pregnant. Although it’s unlikely. Store away that info for if/when you need it.

12. In fact, in the Middle Ages, people thought that red-haired people were conceived during a period

Which makes a wonky sort of sense, so long as you don’t think about it too hard.

fred and george weasley

13. Girls used to start menstruating at 16

Even as relatively recently as the 1800s, girls didn’t get their periods until they were well into their teens. Today, whereas, the average age to reach puberty is 12 – better nutrition and more stress are to blame, says science.

14. Menstrual blood used to cure everything from headaches to warts

At least people thought it did in Olden Times. Menstrual blood was used as medicine for a number of conditions, including leprosy, plague, and DEMONIC POSSESSION. It was also used in love charms, but you shouldn’t probably try this at home. If only because it’d be so messy.

15. Women used to menstruate during the new moon

In really Olden Times there was no artificial lighting, and some scientists believe that women originally ovulated when the moon was full, and started menstruating when it was new.

16. Some scientists also think that artificial lights influence women’s periods

Scientists have proved that using artificial lights during the night can shorten menstrual cycles, so who knows what effect everyday lighting has had across the world.

17. There is a Disney movie about your period

In 1946, Walt Disney made an educational animated film called The Story of Menstruation. It’s not cute and it doesn’t feature any snowmen – but it is thought to be the first film to ever use the word “vagina”, so that’s nice.

18. Retail fever hits you two weeks before your period, says science

In a study at the University of Hertfordshire, scientists found that women were more likely to go shopping 10 days before their period started than at any other time of the month. So now you know when to lock up your wallet.

19. Under 18? Got irregular periods? Don’t worry, it’s normal

It’s just your body settling into its rhythm.

And finally…

20. “Tampon” is French for “plug”

Ahhh, Fronshe. Zer language of larve. So romantique.

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds