The Braces Experience, by Bekah A

An Essay By Anonymous // 5/10/2003

written January 23, 2002

Okay, so it is really no secret. I wanted to be pretty. Yes, it was vanity, but sin or no sin, we all have a bit of it. So, realizing that my teeth were, shall we say, less than gorgeous, I persuaded my parents to finance braces for me. It actually took several years, but, on Wednesday, January 22, 2002, I got braces. And this is how this very important day went....

I arrived at the dentist's office in a buzz of worried thoughts. Would it be painful??? Would I be able to chew gum???? Would I get a metallic reaction when I used silverware??? And, most importantly, would I look like a complete geek for the next six to eight months of my life??? Glancing at the "Wall of Smiles", where I saw a picture of a friend of mine right after her braces came off, I waited nervously in the waiting room until they called my name.

I followed the hygienist into a small room. I was sat down, my chair was laid back and raised. The bright light was switched on, and I was given one of those paper bibs. Then I waited.

It seemed like hours could have passed until I heard someone entering the room. "Are your spacers still in?" was the first thing that was said to me. I answered yes, except for two that had popped out over the week. A chair was pulled up next to my seat, and I saw that this was the same lady who had placed the spacers. The one who had asked me questions, such as, "How old are you?" and "What is your favourite school subject?" while she shoved the little scraps of metal between my teeth. The one who, when I mumbled "erteen" was sure I had said thirteen, when I had really said fourteen. Talking should really not be required of a dentist's patient. It just doesn't work.

She showed me a ring with dozens of coloured bands on it, I selected baby blue. Then, I was left alone again. I have noted, in the past, that most time spent at any type of medical office is spent waiting. They will tell you to wait half a minute, and by the time they have returned, you have read near every issue of TIME magazine ever distributed, and have a good start on the collection of "Southern Living" magazines. Only here, there were no magazines in sight. So I spent my time studying the rolls of stickers. I did find a Shrek sticker which was really quite cute, but, as usual, they didn't offer me stickers. Apparently, it is reserved for the younger patients.

Eventually the orthodontist returned, and she set to work with the metal rings. The bottom ones went in easily, but, because of the missing spacers, the top ones were a bit painful. She managed to cram them in there, and, at my worst, I may have flinched. I just hoped, in my heart, that the rings were the worst of it.

No such luck. Before she came to anything else, the orthodontist decided, apparently, that she needed background music. So, she turned on 104.3. The first thing I heard was, in a very southern accent, "Ya'll are listening to 104.3, Country Music's greatest hits! We're kicking off another hour of nonstop, commercial free music!".

Now, this went beyond pain. This was torture. I grimaced, and the orthodontist asked, cheerfully, "Do you not like country music?"

"Not really".

At this point she was already producing the most hideous plastic....thing....I have ever seen. It reminded me of.....well, it didn't remind me of anything, but it filled me with terror as soon as I set eyes on it. She proceeded to stuff it into my mouth, so that my mouth was held open in a most uncomfortable manner. Then she asked me to bite down. It was a difficult task, but I strained and managed, and I felt as if my mouth was stretched out like Silly putty. To make things worse, as she painted my teeth with disgusting, bitter glue, she began to sing along with the radio. This was too much. But I closed my eyes, and tried to imagine myself elsewhere. After a few minutes, I opened them again, and saw that she had pulled out what looked like a small welding tool. "This is to dry the glue with" she said. I didn't object. But that was only because I couldn't talk at all.

It seemed like a lifetime until she finished gluing the little "links" onto my teeth. But it finally ended, and she cleaned the disgusting paste out of my mouth. And, best of all, she ceased singing, and pulled the plastic torture device out of my mouth. After installing the wires and baby blue bands, I was set free with a little travel brush, a tiny case of cherry-flavoured wax, and a list of eating do's-and-dont's.

Of course, as I know at this moment, the worst pain was yet to come. The soreness, the aching, and the being barely able to close your mouth. But, at this moment, I just know that in six to eight months, the experience will seem to have been worthwhile. And maybe, when it is all over, I will find my place on the Wall of Smiles. It seems a long way off, but, someday, I will have the beautiful smile I have waited for. Six to eight months of geekiness can't beat that.

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