My Nine Years Of Orthodontic Torture

Illustration for article titled My Nine Years Of Orthodontic Torture

Thanks to new 3-D technology, having braces could get easier than ever. And I, for one, am resentful.


According to Catherine St. Louis of the Times, traditional orthodonture involves a lot of tinkering, and orthodontists aren't necessarily sure what each adjustment of their little oral torture devices will do until after they've done it. This should come as a surprise to no one who's had braces, but soon such guesswork could be a thing of the past, because 3-D imaging systems will help orthodontists predict exactly what modifications each mouth needs. This could mean quicker results. Dr. Anoop Sondhi says, "Most people think they'll have to go to 20 to 25 appointments. If I can cut that down to 12, that's less time you have to be bothered, and that's a huge deal."

Twenty? Twenty-five? Fucking amateurs! I may have complained about this just a little bit before, but I visited an orthodontist for nine years. I started going when I was in fourth grade, and I was still going when I graduated from elementary school (I think we actually called it "culminating"), when I learned to play the French horn, when I went to my first dance, when I learned to play the trumpet, when I got my first period, when I started high school, when I got my drivers license, when I learned calculus, and when I applied to college. They were good years, by and large, but there were a few things I conspicuously didn't do a lot of during them: eating and dating.

The dating thing I've already talked about (having a bunch of crap in your mouth for your entire adolescence will do a number on your confidence). But I only realized recently that the fact that I only liked five foods and was pretty underweight until I went to college might have had something to do with the fact that my mouth fucking hurt all the time. If orthodontists can shorten the amount of time that kids have to carry around little packs of wax to stick all over their teeth so their lips don't bleed when they eat a sandwich, then more power to them.

Still, I'm kind of pissed off. It's like when they came up with a chicken pox vaccine, and then suddenly kids didn't have to get gross scabby itchy things all over them for two weeks like I did. You think something is a rite of passage, an ordeal that sucks but that everyone (or almost everyone) has to deal with, and then science steps in and pretty soon no one understands what you went through. In a few years, having braces is going to be just like walking uphill both ways to school in the snow, or growing up without email — young people will just roll their eyes and secretly believe it never happened. And only I and my painfully, arduously, diet-and-love-life-destroyingly straightened teeth will remember.

Image via Ruslan Kudrin/

Taking The Guesswork Out Of Braces [NYT]



I only had braces for eighteen months, but I was in college at the time. I remember vividly the argument I had with my orthodontist over headgear, in which he simply did not care about the fact that I lived in a co-ed dorm at the time.

Humiliation aside, though, the pain was the worst part. I would get scolded for things, like not wearing my rubber bands. But I was in grinding, ear-splitting pain most of the time. I remember sitting in class trying to focus, and my eyes welling up with tears because my mouth hurt so very bad.

And guess what? Half of my teeth have shifted back to their original position, and I don't care at all. It wasn't worth the pain, the embarrassment, or the money. I don't have a movie star smile, but then many movie stars don't either. They get veneers and move on with their lives. Crooked teeth, unless they are so severe as to inhibit your day-to-day, really aren't so bad.