Six-year brace face


Lang Cruz

Spot the difference.

I jumped out of my mom’s car and raced to open the heavy door that I hadn’t seen in six months since my last checkup. I signed in and waited for one of the dental assistants to call me to the back. The time had finally come to get braces! I was in the sixth grade when I finally joined the brace-face community, and I couldn’t have been happier. I was finally going to join the rest of my peers and get to choose a new rubber band color each month. On top of that, I was one of those kids who actually liked going to the dentist, so it felt like an upgrade when my six-month checkups turned into monthly visits to the orthodontist. My love for the orthodontist, however, faded as my two-year braces plan turned into three years, then four, then five until finally I was a senior in high school, and I still had a mouth full of metal. 

That’s right. I had braces for six long, lovely years. 

As time went on, braces were something I got used to. Some of my friends even remarked that it was something they didn’t notice anymore, as most of them had never known me without braces. But by year three, I became impatient since all my friends who had gotten braces around the same time as I did were all getting them off. I grew envious of the feeling they could only describe to me as slimy, but my orthodontist told me that I needed to wait a little longer. 

And before you question whether my ability to follow braces guidelines had anything to do with the duration for which I had braces, trust me, I religiously brushed, flossed and stayed clear of all things sticky, hard and excessively sweet. My discipline only increased as the years piled on, but still, my orthodontist wouldn’t budge.

Sophomore year rolled around, I still had my braces and the hope of getting them off diminished even more as Covid struck and closed down my orthodontist’s office, limiting those monthly visits. The absence of these visits actually caused a few of my teeth to shift, further extending my time with braces. 

Halfway through junior year, after finally getting all my teeth in the right places and making sure they stayed there, my orthodontist told me I had too many teeth and proceeded to tell me I needed to get four pulled. If you’re thinking that this would leave me with four gaping holes that needed to be closed, you thought right. After all this time of closing gaps and straightening my smile, the process had to start over for these four holes. It was safe to say that the metal in my mouth was not leaving anytime soon. 

As my senior year approached and the gaps finally closed, I pleaded with my orthodontist for my braces’ removal, worried that I would have to live with having braces in my senior portraits. Finally, my prayers were answered when he agreed and the day came to have them removed. After a couple of hours at the orthodontist’s office, I pushed that heavy door open and at last experienced the sliminess that my classmates had described all those years ago. 

While I wouldn’t be interested in having braces again, let alone for six years, it did teach me the value of patience, which was all the more valuable since I am not a very patient person. I wouldn’t change any part of my six-year journey with braces, and I’m grateful and pleased with the end result. A little advice, though: if you are having some of your own brace-face issues, don’t stress too much. I promise your orthodontist just wants to give you the best smile possible.