Nothing says middle school like a shiny set of braces. Metal mouth. Silver smile. Galvanized grin. Tin tooth. Whatever the nickname, braces appear and spread among middle-schoolers the way weeds invade untended flowerbeds in late spring.
Every day, it seems, someone shows up to middle school with a new set attached to their teeth, like a single-track railroad line built to allow a journey from molar to molar with a scenic glimpse of the gum line along the way. Everything changes once that railroad line is built. Eating, smiling, drinking, flossing: nothing is the same. Care must be taken when eating broccoli, a simple smile can snag or scratch the tender skin inside the mouth, and flossing becomes an exercise in needle-threading that could frustrate even the most skilled seamstress.
In short, life after braces is less carefree.
Don’t even get me started on the trips to the Orthodontist. Mine was a piece of work. He was the only one in town and so the only option for anyone with crooked teeth or an overbite. He was a forty-something guy who wanted desperately to be cool. He wore purple clogs and shiny disco shirts. Hair mousse and gold chain were standard every day. Top 40 music played constantly in the office. Appointments with him were like having an Elton John wannabe reach inside your mouth. Plus, his jokes were lame.
But in the end, none of that matters. When those braces come off, it is back to business as usual. Caramel, broccoli, pizza: all can be eaten without a second thought. There is, of course, a completely new issue: the retainer. But that’s another story.