For the last one year and 51 weeks I have been enduring what most people endure during their middle-school awkward phase— braces.
I made the decision my junior year of high school to go through with braces. My parents were pushing for it, but ultimately the decision was mine to make. And, after a couple months of deliberation and asking my friends for their opinions, I went for it. Although I considered my teeth to be “not that bad” to begin with, the idea of having perfectly straight teeth seemed worth it to me.
And boy, did I come to regret that decision.
My day to day braces lifestyle consisted of getting half the food I ate stuck in my wires, icing my throbbing jaw after every trip to the orthodontist, and awkwardly trying to smile for pictures without showing off my metal brackets.
The struggle of adult braces is immense. Having people make comments like, “I remember when I had braces…” and “Why are did you get them so late?” was like getting slammed by a wave of humiliation. I’m not saying that people were being condescending or talking down on me for having braces five years after the normal age, but every time someone brought them up I was utterly embarrassed. I felt like my braces were the first thing everyone saw when they looked at me. It was especially distressing coming to college and trying to make a whole new group of friends (I’ve yet to run into a fellow brace face on campus. Not to mention, they made kissing very, very awkward).
On top of the awkward timing of having braces throughout my junior and senior year of high school and freshman year of college was the actual, physical pain. For a week after I first got them on, I couldn’t even chew french fries. The first day I got rubber bands I was sitting in my kitchen in tears because I was hungry but my jaw was too sore for anything I was offered. I had to get a tooth pulled so my bite would line up (I still don’t completely understand that). Months of your mouth hurting so much it gives you headaches, having your risk of getting cavities skyrocket, and having to get poked and prodded by an orthodontist gets really, really old.
“Straight teeth are not worth this,” I said more than once, usually followed by a rant on society’s ridiculous expectation for perfection.
But yesterday, a week shy of two full years, was the day my mouth was liberated from its metal chains. Yesterday my braces came off. No more getting bits of food stuck between my brackets. No more of my mouth aching from moving teeth. No more self-conciously covering my mouth with my hand when I smile.
My mouth looks pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. And I feel pretty damn good. My self-confidence has never been the strongest, but it’s gone through a major boost in the last 24 hours. I was wrong— all of the pain and embarrassment and discomfort I went through for two years was worth it. I’m looking forward to what life has to offer the new, braces-less me.
Oh, and here’s a picture: