Metal Mouth

October 14, 2009
By , North Tonawanda, NY
It all happened on a spring day. It was early in the morning and I woke up to the sound of my mom calling “time to get up!” Most children were already at school, but I… I was different.

Today was the day I got my braces. I started my day with a big bowl of Lucky Charms. After breakfast, I put on my clothes and brushed my teeth until they sparkled. I was ready to go. I got into my mom’s minivan and we departed for the orthodontist. On the way there was a lot of morning rush hour traffic. The sun was shining brightly and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. We turned into the parking lot of an old yellow building. It was a little shack with blue shutters (a place I never even knew existed). My mother parked the van, and I got out. That’s when it hit me.

As I approached the door to walk in, my nerves kicked in. Waves of fear crashed over me. I waited impatiently for a half hour before they called my name. As I reached for the handle to slide into the back examination area, my hand slipped off. My nerves had gotten the best of me.

The first room I slid into was the x-ray room. My mouth was pried open with a large plastic clamp-like tool. Next I was clothed with a large heavy lead apron. It had to weigh over thirty pounds. I dragged myself over to the x-ray machine where I had to bite down into a groove. A camera circled around me. After the x-rays, I was sent to the next room.

I laid down in the dentist chair. You know the kind of chair that gives you nightmares— even years later. Within the next few moments I was swarmed by assistants getting me ready. They repositioned the clamp, sucked the saliva out of my mouth with a suction hose, and put cotton balls in my mouth. The orthodontist came in and glued the metal brackets onto my teeth. They used a heat gun to speed up the drying process. It still seemed to take forever! After the brackets were completely dried, they removed the cotton balls and clamp. Finally my lips and cheeks weren’t twice as large as they should be. My cheeks and gums felt like jelly. I knew the adjustment of having metal brackets on my teeth would take a while. The orthodontist then positioned the wires into the brackets. The next procedure finally involved me.
I was allowed to pick the color of the ties that went on the brackets. There was such a variety to choose from. There had to be over twenty different colors! Finally I chose a stunning bluish turquoise color. After they were done, I was allowed to look into the mirror.

My mind rushed with different thoughts and emotions. I barely even recognized my own smile. What would other people think? Could I still smile? I started to question myself like crazy. I hurried out to the waiting room where my mom was patiently waiting for me to be done. Her first words were “let me see!” Of course I wasn’t afraid to show my mom. Showing other people — that was a different story.

My mom drove me to school after the orthodontist. During the whole car ride, I had the visor down looking into the mirror. The metal in my mouth reflected the sun on to the mirror. I had no clue what my classmates would think. Would I be called a brace face? Would they laugh and call me metal mouth? Would they think I had railroad tracks on my teeth? I was about to find out.

I arrived at school just before the rest of my classmates came back from lunch. When they came into class I was surrounded in every direction. Everyone was eager to know why I was late to school. I put my hand over my mouth to disguise that fact that I had just had braces put on. I was so overwhelmed and never wanted to open my mouth again. I finally told my classmates I had braces. They all wanted to see, but I refused to open my mouth. My teacher called everyone to their desk to begin class again.

Just my luck, I came back for reading. The teacher called on several of my classmates to read, and then— me! What would I do? Would I be yelled at for covering my mouth and reading? Was there a way to read without showing teeth? The class was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I felt as if everyone’s eyes were staring directly at me. I had to make a decision…

I decided to read just like any other time. After I was done, everyone was staring at me. One of my close friends yelled “smile” right after I was done reading. I couldn’t hold back anymore.

I smiled.

I heard some of my classmates whispering, “they look so good,” “they aren’t that bad,” “I wish I had braces.” I finally felt as if the braces became a part of me.
Upon arriving home from school I was eager to know what my dad would think. He told me “daddy’s little girl is still beautiful.” I felt so loved. I was finally comfortable with my new smile. It was a long five years with metal in my mouth. After getting my braces off, I felt as if a part of me was missing. Truth is the procedure involved will never be forgotten.

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