No pain, no gain – when it comes to braces, that is

Teen Columnist Spencer Massicot shows off his braces.

Teen Columnist Spencer Massicot shows off his braces.

Having braces is a thing that nearly 75 percent of kids and teens go through. Some people get them when they are young and go through their high school years with perfect teeth. Others, like me, get them on later and do not get them off until junior or senior year. I will not get my braces off until around December of my junior year.

Having braces is kind of an awkward stage, and getting them off is a sign of all the hard work accomplished while they were on. Braces are fine for me, besides the monthly tightenings and accessories that are put in for weeks or months at a time.

One thing a lot of people get on top of their braces is rubber bands. The rubber bands can be very annoying because you have to take them out when you eat and then find a mirror to put them back in. On braces there are little hooks on some teeth to put the rubber bands on. The orthodontist will tell you certain hooks to put your rubber bands on to make them effective. They are meant to fix bites and are also put in to get ready for more things to be put in.

Another add-on to braces is spacers. The spacers are little blue things that almost look like rubber bands. Spacers are put in before you get braces to space out your teeth, so when they put your braces in, it is easier to fit things in between your teeth.

When they are putting the spacers in, about a week before any appliance is put in, it is kind of painful. They have you bite on a tool as to jam the spacer in between your teeth. They tell you to bite as hard as you can until the spacer wedges itself in. I got spacers in a couple of weeks ago because, a week later, I got an appliance in my mouth called MARA. It is also known as a palatal expander and is mainly for fixing bites.

I have a really bad overbite and I had this appliance put on to fix it. Putting it on took about an hour and it was very painful. It was put in the same way as the spacers, except that they kept taking it out and doing it again so that it would fit perfectly.

Once I left the orthodontist, I felt like I could not close my mouth and it was very hard to talk. I had a lisp and I could not eat solid foods. I was basically living on energy shakes, soup, and macaroni and cheese.

The appliance is specially put in to help me get used to biting the right way. If i bite in the wrong place, it sends pain through my mouth and pulls on my teeth, because two metal pieces clang together. While wearing it, I am forced to bite farther forward with my bottom teeth so it doesn’t hurt.

The minimum time for me to have the expander on is four months and it could go all the way to six months; so I still have a long way to go. After about a week, I got completely used to it and now I can talk normally and eat normally. It is not obvious that it is there when I smile because it is behind my cheeks.

One cool thing about braces are the rubber bands that go around the brackets on your teeth. Every time you go in for a tightening, they let you change the color of the rubber bands. I like changing the color for the time of the year it is – like around Christmas, I had them changed to red and green. The rubber bands are ways to take attention away from the wires across your teeth.

After any new tool or appliance is put in, the braces get tightened. Even after just getting braces on, food is a big issue. After almost every trip to the orthodontist, there is a little pain for a couple of days and eating hard or crunchy foods can hurt. I usually eat soup or something soft after my appointments so it will go down easily without me having to chew it very hard.

After the braces are off, we will still have to wear a retainer for a couple of years so the effects of the braces do not wear off. I have a friend who had braces and then didn’t wear his retainer; so he had to get them back on for another two years.

Having braces may be a pain, literally. But once they are off, we get to live the rest of our lives with our new smile and great teeth!



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Spencer Massicot