By Ariana Brasman
When I walked into my fourth grade class, the looks I received from my classmates were hard to ignore. They just stared at me as if I was some kind of outsider.
To make matters worse, my teacher decided to call on me to answer a question, and as I started to speak the students shouted, “Brace face!”
Back then, not many students had braces, and I was the first person in my class who got them. After the initial humiliation and embarrassment, I learned to embrace the word.
When a student would call me “brace face,” I would look at them and say, “thank you.” Saying this took them by surprise, and often they didn’t know how to respond back. Deep down I knew this was a temporary thing. I realized it was a situation I had no control over, so to get myself through this time, I thought I might as well make the best out of an uncomfortable situation.
I started out with four braces on my top and bottom front teeth, along with headgear. Headgear is often used to fix overbites or underbites. In my case, it was an overbite. A good example of headgear can be seen in Katy Perry’s music video, “Last Friday Night.”
I thought my worst nightmare was about to unfold. My orthodontist originally told me I had to wear the headgear to school! The thought of having braces was hard enough, but to wear headgear to school on top of that? I was going to be considered the school nerd and the humiliation would have been too much to handle. So, I didn’t wear it.
During my next appointment at the orthodontist office the following week, they reexamined my teeth and realized they made a minor mistake. My orthodontist informed me that I only needed to wear the headgear piece at night and NOT to school. A feeling of excitement, relief and relaxation engulfed me. Once I realized I only had to wear it at night, I made sure to be very disciplined with wearing it each night. Headgear was still a bit of an adjustment, though. It was painful, extremely tight and hard to sleep with.
When I went in for my last headgear checkup, I thought it was also my last braces checkup. I was unaware that I would need to have my braces on all throughout middle school. I thought I would only have them on for 1 to 2 years tops.
Right before I entered into sixth grade, my orthodontist sat down with my parents and me to explain that since all my adult teeth finally came in, I’m probably going to need braces for the rest of them later on. So, he suggested I get more braces, and my parents decided the sooner this can get fixed the better, even though I disagreed.
So, I started middle school with a full mouth of braces that lasted into the end of eighth grade. On the bright side though, I was finished with my headgear. Ultimately, I wanted to have my braces off before I entered high school since they couldn’t come off before middle school. Well, thankfully I was able to get them off right before my freshman year of high school.
Although the four years felt like an eternity, they paid off. My teeth both felt and looked wonderful. Minus a few cavities I’ve encountered since my braces came off, my teeth have been in excellent condition, and I plan to keep it that way.