“You know,” my long-time friend, Jeff said when I saw him earlier this week, “I didn’t realize how jacked up your teeth were until I saw them with braces.”
Every time I retell this story, people get all up-in-arms on my behalf, which is sweet. Meanwhile, my reaction when he said it was an exasperated, “RIGHT??”
It’s been exactly one week since I had my braces put on, and what a week it’s been. For the most part, I think I’m already used to them. The aching in my teeth has pretty much subsided and the insides of my cheeks have adjusted to being cut up by wires and pricked at by brackets. I dare say I’m even getting accustomed to my metal-mouthed smile.
Given the fact that a good number of my peers have already gone through this orthodontic rite of passage (sometimes more than once!), people have been really super great about making me feel less self conscious and offering sage and often hard-learned words of wisdom from their own experiences. It helps that I’m also more than happy to make light of my own belated teenage awkwardness.
Sometimes I get comments like, “You can hardly notice them!” or “Aw, they don’t look that bad!” and I really have to laugh. I mean, I know that people are just trying to make me feel better. But… Yes, they’re totally noticeable! They’re braces! No need to sugar coat it though – I knew what I was getting myself into
But it’s comments like “I still don’t know why you got them in the first place,” that made Jeff’s comment about my jacked up teeth so damn refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the flattery. The thing is, my teeth are jacked up. They really, really are. And if you don’t think that sort of thing affects a person’s self-esteem, think again. I’m 28 and pretty damn self-assured and I’d still rather endure a few years of dental train tracks than put up with the lumber pile that was (well, still is. FOR NOW) my mouth.
The only concern I really have at this point is that I won’t be taken seriously with these things on. If I thought I was constantly being mistaken for a teenager before, the next few years are going to be extra special. I worry that it may be more challenging to take command of my audience when, say, teaching my college course in the fall or speaking professionally at different events. As a couple of former students have already pointed out on Twitter: “It is going to be a confusing year when students wonder why another student is teaching ” and “Lmfao, you already looked like a student before and this just makes it even better!”
TELL ME ABOUT IT.
But to give credit where it’s due, one of the most unexpected pockets of support has actually come from many of my former students who, after learning of my plans to go through with braces, began coming out of the woodwork to share their own experiences and advice. It’s actually pretty sweet (and, if we’re being honest here, really funny. I’ve taught some pretty great people).
Also awesome are my friends Jeff, Llisa and Candice. One of my first observations when the braces went on was that flossing with these things is the single most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to do. To make my life easier, the three of them chipped in a got me something called a Waterpik water flosser. It’s a pretty badass piece of equipment.
And they really are good friends.
All in all, I’m pretty excited to finally have the process started. I’m trying not to obsess over whether or not I can tell if my teeth have moved yet, or wish the next few years away, but I’m eager to see the results. Thanks to everyone that has been so supportive/helped me laugh at myself so far (and, of course special thanks to my dad for making this happen in the first place!)
What about you: Have you ever had braces? What advice do you have for me? I’m especially interested in connecting with any other adult braces wearers! Past or present