I rubbed my jaw and sighed. The panadol I had taken several hours before for my poor, agonized mouth had worn off, so I walked to the kitchen to take some more. It was October, 2007. For a whole week I had taken life relatively easy. Having braces put on hurt a lot, and it was, understandably, taking my mouth a long time to become accustomed to having bits of metal and plastic plastered to my teeth and wire cruelly pulling my mouth’s structure into another position. Even eating tomatoes was excruciating! Let us just say that mealtimes became interesting excursions, and panadol grew to be my faithful companion.
Fourteen months down the track, having my braces tightened hardly bothers me. I lie down in the dentist chair, confident that I won’t go through the same agonizing progress I went through the first few months. In fact, I can walk out of the dentist clinic and eat a steak for dinner and my mouth will feel as fine as if I had eaten marshmallows.
Braces can be seen as worse than worse, shameful, excruciating, and humiliating, but reality is, braces become as natural as without them. All you need is a positive, grateful and contented outlook to get you through the short time you have to wear them.
10 great things about braces:
- They change the way you speak and chew
- If you have them, a qualified, professionally trained orthodontist obviously thinks it is worth having them on
- You are given the continual opportunity to ‘live’ with pain and show endurance, joy and patience
- The orthodontist takes pains to make them as ‘fun’ as they can, by letting you choose colours for your braces and bands
- The orthodontists are relatively chirpy and want to get to know you and will talk to you (even if they have their hands in your mouth!)
- You are given another thing to look forward to… having your braces taken off!
- Taking the pains to clean them well is very rewarding, and the orthodontist will be extremely impressed with you
- People notice when you have a good attitude about having braces on; it pays off
- It’s different!
- You are left with a wonderful smile!
Why do we need them and how do they work?
From time to time jaws aren’t shaped right. While some upper jaws are bigger than the lower jaws, called an overbite, sometimes the lower jaw is bigger than the upper jaw, which is called an underbite.
The most common reason for it though is that the adult teeth just don’t grow evenly. In a nutshell, braces work by applying steady pressure to your mouth for a certain amount of time, forcing your teeth to move into the perfect position. To help the jaws move, sometimes the orthodontist makes you wear rubber bands which are stretched from the back of your lower jaw to the front of your upper jaw on both sides. Generally, braces stay on for 18months to two years, although sometimes it is more – my Dad had them on for three and a half years!
How could we look at braces in a positive and enthusiastic way? Is it even humanly possible? What does the Bible say?
For starters, the Bible reminds us in Psalm 118:24, this is the day that the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. God ordained the day you would have braces; he is still in control even if the pain in your mouth isn’t!
In Philippians 4:11, Paul shares with the Philippians that …in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Although braces wasn’t on Paul’s mind at that time, he was in an even worse situation than we are, and yet he was as cool as a cucumber about it! Why not give this a go – thank God for your braces. Thank him for the orthodontists and thank him for the investment being invested into your mouth. Truly, we are blessed by the Lord!
For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall, declares David in Psalm 18:29. With God’s help you can do all things – including enduring the pain of braces, not eating certain foods, and keeping on smiling day in and day out!
These are just some ways to remind myself to look on the bright side of having braces, and what God actually says about it! What can you think of that the Bible says about having a positive outlook regardless of the difficulties you face?
Honestly, braces aren’t that bad. Wearing braces can become much less of a deal when we choose to not make it one. What attitude are you going to have today?
Originally posted for Growing in Grace Magazine in August