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Mom Balks After Adult Daughter Demands She Split Cost Of Her Braces For ‘Ruining’ Her Teeth

Young woman wearing braces
Phoenixns/Getty Images

It’s no secret that a person’s appearance can have a real impact on their confidence, self-esteem, and how they behave in the world.

Sometimes better self-esteem is just a procedure away, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, depending on what that person needs.

Redditor Proof-Display-2218 listened to her daughter’s dentists about her daughter’s teeth, and they agree that she did not medically need braces.

But when her daughter, as an adult, demanded that she help her pay for braces, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had done this sooner.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for not getting my daughter braces?”

The OP listened to her daughter’s dentist about her need for braces.

“My daughter (21 Female) and I (48 Female) just got into a huge argument on the topic of why I didn’t get her braces as a child.”

“I personally felt that her teeth were fine, and we were even told by several dentists that she does not need braces for any sort of purpose rather than cosmetically straightening them, so I thought it would be quite useless to put her through years of orthodontic treatment.”

Her daughter’s complaints increased dramatically as a teenager.

“She would constantly ask me to get her braces once she became a teenager, claiming her teeth were overly crooked and she felt as if every one of her friends was getting them.”

“I told her that her teeth were fine and that her friends actually NEEDED braces for corrective procedures.”

“She then began approaching her father (her father and I aren’t together) to help her get braces, but he always insisted that he didn’t have the money.”

“Eventually, I agreed to get my daughter Smile Direct Club aligners when she was 17, and they worked for the most part.”

But there were consequences later.

“I didn’t have to hear her whine about braces anymore, until she decided to go to an orthodontist to get real braces and was told that she would need serious treatment because she had now developed a crossbite from the Smile Direct Club aligners.”

“She became furious with me, telling me that I practically neglected her feelings and insecurities about her teeth and that I encouraged her to ‘ruin her mouth’ by getting her the Smile Direct Club aligners.”

“Her treatment is estimated at $7,500 and she is demanding I pay for at least half since I was the one who ‘ruined her mouth in the first place.'”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some reassured the OP that she had done the right thing by listening to the professionals.

“I’m going to go with NTA just on the principle of kids wanting cosmetic improvements not being enough reason to spend thousands of dollars on them. Yes, braces improve a smile, but should we do nose jobs, breast implants, liposuction, leg lengthening, etc., because kids have a self-esteem issue about it?” – AdministrationWise56

“NTA. All these YTA votes are legitimately crazy. The dentist told you they weren’t necessary. You didn’t have the money. Braces are painful and expensive (especially if you don’t live in a part of the world where it’s covered). Self-esteem is such a bulls**t excuse; you can build good self-esteem regardless of what you look like or what state your teeth are in.”

“Your daughter is the one who demanded treatment that got messed up. She should see if Smile Direct will reimburse her for the damage they did and use that money to pay for corrective treatment. The treatment she wouldn’t have needed if she simply accepted she had cosmetically crooked teeth.” – Insomniac_Tales

“I honestly don’t understand this obsession with having ‘perfect teeth.’ It seems to be such an American thing.”

“Look at the Brits or the Aussies or many other nationalities that have what I consider ‘normal teeth,’ maybe a bit crooked or not brilliant white, but still healthy and functional.”

“To me, NTA if she wants to have braces or any other orthodontic work done, she can pay for it.” – Dragonfly_Gypsy

“The medical advice was they were only cosmetic and there weren’t issues. A lot of people use the Invisaliner/Smile Direct for cosmetic issues without issues.”

“My niece, last month, was told by an orthodontist her issues were mild enough to do aligners versus full braces. They are generally safe and effective in mild to moderate cases and have less root absorption and better oral hygiene.”

“NTA. Being told by a dentist it’s not necessary does not mean a parent has to pay to fix any cosmetic issues a person feels they have.”

“Aligners aren’t inherently unsafe, either. Using them isn’t inherently unsafe and I don’t doubt the kid was involved in that because the rise of at-home impression kits and the Smile Direct storefronts and marketing make it sound identical to the aligners from anywhere else.”

“Making a decision based on it being mild cosmetic and saying not to thousands of dollars of expenses doesn’t make them an a**hole. Just because a person can afford thousands doesn’t mean they should, either.”

“Smile Direct looks legit. They’re FDA-approved. Falling for slick marketing of an off version of a legitimate orthodontic treatment doesn’t make someone an asshole, either.” – DefinitelyNotAliens

“Look, okay, I’ve been in and out of braces for over two-thirds of my life for actual dental problems.”

“The absolute number one rule for childhood braces (before the age of like 13 generally) is that you don’t give them braces. Why? Their mouths are still growing and the adult teeth aren’t fully set in for most younger ages anyway. That would have been wasted money for her to eventually just have her teeth shift as her mouth grew into her teen/early adult years anyway.”

“Those people in the comments who are saying, ‘Oh, most people just get braces for straight teeth,’ are uninformed liars. Most people who get braces actually need braces, but for smaller minuscule things at that stage in their lives but left untreated would grow into larger problems later. Braces are a huge part of preventative dental care.”

“If multiple dentists said it was fine, it was fine.”

“She clearly was an insecure teenager who was jealous of what her friends were having done for themselves. It’s no different than the girls who have ‘uncool’ parents that won’t let them try dyeing their hair or getting piercings or trying Kardashian lip challenges.”

“In fact, you giving IN to her insecurity is what actually caused the problem later.”

“NTA, she needs to figure herself out, because tons of kids who even sucked on pacifiers growing up ended up needing some form of dental care later on in life. Are their parents on the hook for that because of knowledge they didn’t have at the time? No.” – Green_Cauliflower27

“She should get multiple consultations to make sure the work quoted is actually needed, and that expensive.”

“And while perceived cosmetic imperfections can give one a complex, she isn’t entitled to braces any more than she would be a nose or boob job. I’m sorry for her distress, but now she’s of an age she can get these things for herself.”

“NTA.” – PorcupineTattoo

But others felt that the OP should have been more empathetic and sought treatment sooner.

“YTA. Getting braces for ‘cosmetic’ reasons is why they exist. You could have given her a much better life now if you had forked over the money when she was a teenager and gotten her teeth straightened.”

“It’s like you didn’t even listen to what she had to say when she was a teen, and your responsibility as a parent is to care for the health of your child. Do you not understand what a stigma it is to have even slightly crooked, slightly overcrowded teeth?”

“And later, if you were willing to pay for Smile Direct, why didn’t you just pay for a real ortho?” – PopularFunction5202

“YTA, as someone who didn’t get braces as a child, I got them myself when I was 30 years old as it was something that always bothered me, and I had to pay thousands. It’s embarrassing to have braces at 30, especially because I might have gotten them for free as a child.” – MorbidDeceiver13

“I don’t really want to get into the ‘crooked teeth are normal’ vs. ‘you trashed her mental health’ culture war going on here, but the Smile Direct Club is what pushes it into YTA for me.”

“Either you thought her teeth were fine as they were, or you didn’t. Getting her a bootleg fix so she’ll shut up about it doesn’t mesh with, either.” – _Duckylicious

“Breasts and tummy tucks don’t hold you back from adult things, like, I don’t know, a job? Severely crooked teeth can absolutely impact how someone is perceived during job interviews, especially if the profession chosen is a public-facing one.”

“Want to be a reporter? Nope. Marketing? Nope. Etc., etc. It’s unfortunate, but employers are judgmental about things like that.”

“Also, braces are typically covered by insurance and would not have cost 10k, and because it’s technically a ‘cosmetic’ fix, your daughter would have likely only needed actual, real, braces for about a year. OP just never bothered to actually look into it. YTA.” – mmwhatchasaiyan

“Okay, so, listen: I have huge spaces between my teeth, nothing bad, but it makes it very easy to develop tartar for me, food gets stuck literally all the time and I’m insecure about my smile. It sucks.”

“Braces would have fixed the issue fairly easily, but my mom refused to get me them because her younger sister growing up during the 60s had issues with them. It’s annoying she put her own bias over my wishes since as an adult I would have to pay out of pocket for something that would have been free as a teen.”

“As long as you could have afforded it, there was no reason to deny her something that wouldn’t have been harmful and would have alleviated an insecurity of hers. Do you have to pay for it now that she’s an adult? Obviously not, but is this really the hill you want to die on and sour your relationship with your daughter further?”

“I vote YTA mostly because you got her aligners instead of just forking over for proper braces in the first place because that seems just strange to me, to be honest.” – BlazingKitsune

“I am the same as the daughter in this post is.”

“For my parents, getting me braces and going to appointments every two to four weeks was just too much hassle and costs. My teeth are crooked as f**k, but there is no medical reason to get braces. It just looks ugly as h**l.”

“I asked them for braces over and over, but they said no, and I was on their insurance of course, so when I was 15, 16, 17, I could still not start the treatment without them agreeing.”

“As soon as I turned 18, I went to a specialist to ask about braces. They listed estimated costs and it was close to 10k. The money I did not have since I had to put myself through university working two jobs next to my classes to just pay my bills. Insurance will not cover any braces treatment that isn’t medically necessary for adults. At some point, I made peace with the way my teeth look, but I never smile with my lips open and I adopted the habit of not showing too much of my teeth when I speak.”

“I still have crooked teeth and I still resent my parents for it.”

“YTA big time and you better fully pay for your daughter’s braces.”

“I also want to point out, in this case, OP never said she couldn’t afford the braces (before she ruined her daughter’s teeth with the smile direct aligners). Now it’s 7.5k but she said it wasn’t as bad before so would’ve been a lot cheaper. She only said her ex couldn’t afford it and that she herself thought it ‘was not neccessary.'”

“In my case: I live somewhere insurance covers 100% 90% of the treatment when you finish it before you turn 18. Parents have to pay some sort of deposit (1 – 2k) when it starts which they will get back after it’s finished. Insurances want to make sure that people actually follow through with the treatment.”

“My parents said since driving me to the appointments once or twice a month to the next orthodontist (40 min drive per way) sounds really bothersome they believe we couldn’t follow through with the treatment and hence would lose the money so it’s better to not even start the whole thing. So yeah, defend them all you want, they are a**holes.” – Susannah_Mio_

We can all agree that dental care and orthodontics are incredibly expensive, but the subReddit was divided over how the OP handled the situation.

Some felt that the OP did the right thing by listening to the doctors, but others felt she should have valued her daughter’s sense of self-worth more. There was also the issue of using Smile Direct, which certainly sent mixed messages for everyone.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.