Does anyone remember the movie "Moonraker?" This is a James Bond movie from back in the day. The character you see above was one of the villains in this movie and his name was Jaws. I'm here to tell you that when I got braces as a kid, I looked a lot like this guy. Really. Let share with you....
I hate it when your teeth are described as being "good" when they look horrible. Apparently there are people walking around with good looking "bad" teeth. Let's be honest....it's all about how great you look, right? I definitely fell into the category of good teeth that looked bad. I don't think people ever teased me about my huge overbite, but I know that I was conscious about it. All I can tell you is this....I was able to fit my fist into my mouth with my jaws CLOSED. It was that bad.
Nowadays, students get braces in third, fourth, or fifth grade. It's a pretty common occurrence. And if it's possible, they are viewed by some as an indicator of wealth, since we know they aren't cheap. I got my braces in the fifth grade. I was the only kid in the whole school that had them. Nice, right? I now became the butt of many jokes...Brace Face and Railroad Mouth were just a few of the names that I suffered. It might not have been so bad with the namecalling, except that the physical act of getting the braces was also painful.
The first thing they did was take a plaster mold of your teeth. You think you are going to gag and throw up because they are putting this metal plate in your mouth with some horrible looking cement stuff. Gross. When you go back the next time, they show you the mold and now you feel worse about how yucky your teeth look. At least in your mouth you can pretend that your teeth don't look so bad.
Just getting the braces wasn't enough torture for me. I had to have 4 permanent teeth removed before getting my braces put on. When they got done removing the teeth, I could slide a straw all the way through my mouth from one side to the other without opening my jaws. This might have been a great party trick if I had been old enough to actually go to parties. After the tooth extractions, I got the braces. Back in the day, the braces weren't the cute little metal pieces that were glued to the front of your teeth like the kids have now. My braces were full metal bands that went around the entire tooth. So in many respects, I felt like I looked a lot like Jaws from Moonraker. Not the best look for a ten-year old.
How can it possibly get worse, you might wonder. Did I mention that I also had rubberbands on the braces? I wore these little white rubberbands that connected my top jaw to my bottom jaw. I got so used to them that eventually I was able to play simple tunes on them. I also tried my hand at shooting them at people, but my aim was never that great.
It gets better.....I also had the head gear. This contraption hooks to the inside of your jaw and is strapped to your neck. I wore this while I slept. Thankfully I didn't have to wear it during the day. I might have scared some people if I did.
Also, most people that wear braces now only have to suffer for about 2 years with them. I wore mine for 5 years people. Thankfully this wasn't the pretty stage of my life (that's what I'm going through now) so I didn't have to worry about the braces ruining an otherwise perfect face.
The orthodontist we had in Key West had his main office in Miami, which is three hours away. He only came to Key West a couple times a month, so when you went for your appointment, there were always tons of people there. And since everyone there was also wearing braces and looking less than spectacular, it was a relief to not be teased. I remember that I had to wait and wait and wait for hours to finish my appointment. I vaguely remember that I enjoyed a laugh or two, as I worked the crowd with my comedic skills. Now that I think about it...they may have been laughing AT me instead of WITH me.
This unpleasant stage of my life is over and I'm glad. I now look in the mirror and have a hard time remembering what my teeth looked like before braces. Just to keep myself in check, I'll look at all the pictures of my brother and me on my parents' wall and in every one of them, I have a mouth full of metal. I think that look may have made a terrific superhero name...Tinsel Teeth. All I know, is when I look at some poor kid that can't have gum because of his braces, I can feel their pain. I've been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.