This past Sunday, my niece Reese informed me that she would be getting braces today. At first I felt sorry for her. I knew that such an event could be terribly traumatizing for a girl nearing middle school. But before I could feel those feelings, I was assured that she was actually excited. Did I say excited? I meant thrilled. Yes, a person who enjoys wearing metal on their teeth. I attribute her enthusiasm to her young age. At 10 years old, she’s not yet in the awkward years and doesn’t see such a thing as cause for an emotional breakdown. The even crazier part is that she’s already had braces before and she’s still looking forward to it. Kids these days…
All of the talk about braces got me reminiscing about my years in teeth shackles. Braces and I go way back. Like Reese, I endured two rounds of orthodontia. The first time was in 3rd grade to correct an overbite, which I’m sure was just the cutest. The second time was in my teen years. I’m suddenly wondering what the purpose was that time. I guess my parents were looking for a way to unload some spare cash. Not that I’m not grateful. I am. Here’s a picture of the teeth in question, present day:
Let’s rewind to that first time in braces. It was bad. Why, you ask? Because it wasn’t just braces. Oh me, oh my. No, it was so much more. To go along with my attractive new braces, I got, ahem, headgear. Yeah, yeah, yeah…have a good laugh. Are you done? Good. Yes, the girl with curly hair and glasses was blessed with both braces and headgear all at once. I know what you’re thinking- “That Carly is such a whiner! There are way worse things to worry about than a little embarrassment!” Let’s disregard the aesthetic aspect for a moment and discuss the physical agony involved.
I believe I have a high tolerance for pain. I don’t think I was born with it. It developed over time, thanks to two main contributing factors. First, I was forced to endure the pain that came with having a rat’s nest for a head of hair. My mom would have to brush through tangles that only Satan could create. It was a hard time for all involved. There were tears, followed by a young girl wishing for straight hair. Rinse and repeat that for about 10 years. Second, there was the headgear. If you’re not familiar, this is a device that wraps around one’s head. It has little metal hooks on the outside that attach to little metal hooks that have been glued to your teeth. Now, the purpose of the headgear is to move your jaw or your teeth (or something) in a way that normal braces cannot. To make sure you get your money’s worth, the headgear is adjusted to ensure your face is rapidly moved in the most excrutiating way possible, just before you reach your absolute limit. And this happens every time you put the thing on. Perhaps I just had a bad experience, but if a new form of physical punishment is ever needed, look no further. This will do the trick. Seriously, it was awful. My one saving grace was that I only had to wear it at home. Thank. Goodness.
Oh, but we’re not done. Following the braces and the headgear, I received a special retainer. Nope, I couldn’t have just any ol’ retainer. I got a “bionator.” I can’t even type that without picturing Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyway, this was a massive retainer, designed to take up every last square centimeter of my mouth. As I recall, I couldn’t even talk with that thing in. I can remember what it looked like. I can remember what the plastic tasted like. More profoundly, I can remember the sound of my brother and sister taunting me. Did I mention neither of them were born with freak teeth? Oh, wait, neither was I. Remember…this was all for my bite. My teeth weren’t even crooked! Oh, the injustice.
Lucky for me, I was a good little girl and did everything my orthodontists told me to and have (kind of) straight teeth today. Lucky for you, I found a picture of the headgear. Enjoy. I have to go put it my retainer.