Did anyone else have braces as a teenager? I’m pretty sure the answer to that question for a lot of you will be the same as it was for me: a resounding yes. I spent most of my teenage years all wired up in a variety of plastic, metal and elastic band braces as, fortunately, did several of my friends at that age too. I say fortunately as it’s only too easy not to fit in as a teenager and braces would be one way to stick out like sore thumb, but there were so many of us, that it didn’t matter. I’m not sure I see as many young people with braces nowadays, or maybe I just don’t see all that many teenagers?!
Can you believe that when I was younger, I was super excited to know that one day I would need braces? One of my friends got a plastic retainer which she kept in one of those mini Pringles containers at lunchtime, and I remember feeling so jealous of her fancy little box. It was early on that we knew I’d need a brace as I had problem baby teeth as it was, with some refusing to budge and others coming through seemingly sideways. My front two teeth crossed over from the word go and other teeth came through right on top of ones that were still in place!
I ended up needing to have 5 teeth removed in order to have the initial retainer fitted – one was a baby tooth at the front that wasn’t budging (that was easy to get out), the others were overcrowding my mouth and causing all the crossover, so had to go – they weren’t so easy to get out! I remember my mum, who was in the dentist’s office with me, wincing as she watched the dentist get his foot up on the chair to wrench one of them out of there! Fortunately, I’d been stabbed with plenty of needles so was completely numbed up and didn’t feel a thing, plus I’d already had the pleasure of having teeth removed by the dentist when I was younger, so I wasn’t terribly concerned!
I started out with a plastic retainer meant to sort out my overbite. I remember going back to school in the afternoon after they’d fitted it and being asked to read a sentence out in French with this great lump of plastic in my mouth and sounding like a snake being squashed – fun memories!
I honestly can’t remember how long I had that thing, but it was definitely a good day when I was finally allowed to swap it for “real” metal braces. The excitement however was shortlived when I realised just how annoying and painful braces can be! I got pretty used to trips to the dentist after that – you can’t be worried about dentist trips any more when you wear a brace – you’re in there more than you’re at home! If it was somewhere like The Old Spire, I’d have been a lot happier – a cosmetic dentistry practice in an old church? That’s right up my street! Well, not literally – if it was, I’d have been there. Instead, I was at the local dentist pretty much every few weeks.
They kitted me out with special little toothbrushes to fit in between the wires and wax to cover the attachments near my lips at the front. I never actually used this little wax kit aside from testing it out because wax felt weirder in my mouth than the metal! And to this day I still have scars on the inside of my lips where the metal used to rub – ouch!
Did you get to pick out colours for your brace when you were young? We did, and it was all the talking point at school before you went to get your first one fitted – what colour would you choose? Never choose green – we’d tell each other – it looks like you’ve got food stuck in them. And white will make your teeth look yellow. We discussed different colour options for different times of year, including red and green for Christmas (I think I actually did this one time!) and orange and black for Halloween.
For my first choice of colours, I went with bright pink and turquoise, because…well, just because! My colour decisions were toned down every subsequent visit as the novelty wore off, and I think I mostly settled for a paler pink when I started getting fed up of them!
And then came, horror of horror, the elastic bands. And, of course, I couldn’t be normal and just have the plain coloured ones! I ended up with a lovely shade of Christmas tree green – not out of choice, of course, the colours corresponded to different lengths or something similar. And I had to have 2 elastic bands crossing over on either side, so 4 in total, to wear day and night. And believe me, there were many mornings I’d wake up to find more than one elastic had gone missing during the night…There was also the agonising moment when an elastic band would decided to dislodge itself mid-conversation and fling itself across the room, because of course that happened to me…several times.
So braces – all fun and games, right! Despite being sore for several days after getting them tightened, they weren’t all that bad really – at least I got my smile now out of it! Although there was the time I got the metal caught on the seatbelt…no, don’t ask me, I honestly don’t know how I did it…
To be completely honest, my teeth aren’t as straight as can be now – despite top and bottom teeth braces, my top front teeth still cross over, although now with added small gap between them! I did have them shaved down slightly so they’d be able to fit together better and not cause me pain as they had done before the braces, but without a lot of additional work, that’s as good as they’re going to get, and I’m pretty happy with it.
Now it’s your turn! Tell me the story of your smile – have you ever had braces?