Tackling Brace-ism: How to Respond to People Who Make Fun of Your Braces
Most of us have heard the taunts—metal mouth, brace face, train tracks—silly names dreamt up by foolish people who have nothing better to do than make fun of your awesome braces. It’s a shame. Nowadays, more kids than ever wear braces—a testament to how many people realize the benefits of a great smile.
Even a large number of grown-ups have taken to wearing braces for adults. Still, that doesn’t stop some lost souls from mocking others who are trying to improve their health and fix their smiles. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to let the mindless prattle of others ruin your day. So, what’s the deal with people who make fun of braces, and how do you handle them?
What Is Brace-ism?
Jokes about braces are as old as braces themselves, and those date back at least to the 18th century! Nowadays, this particular form of ridicule has its own name: brace-ism. The Urban Dictionary defines it as “being mean to people who have braces on their teeth.”
Of course, you don’t need an entry in the dictionary to appreciate how tough people can be on those who happen to have a little metal in their mouths. Chances are, you’ve heard the jeers yourself, or even been on the receiving end of them. Middle schools and high schools around the country ring out with the sounds of brace-ism: “Hey there, metal mouth.” “What a geek!” “Nice smile, brace face.”
It can hurt to face such ridicule. It can chip away at your self-confidence and make you feel less than the beautiful, wonderful person you are. That’s particularly true for teenagers who are already going through physical changes and who struggle every day to become more confident and independent.
That being said, a little brace-ism here and there doesn’t have to destroy anyone’s life. In fact, some would say it’s a normal part of life, even a rite of passage for teenagers who are making their way to adulthood. At the end of the day, whether bullying becomes a roadblock or one more obstacle to overcome depends on how you choose to react to the taunts. So, how can parents and their teenagers deal with the sarcasm that comes their way? How can they turn an apparent negative into a positive, life-changing experience?
5 Strategies Teenagers Can Use to Deal with Brace-ism
It’s never fun to be the butt of someone else’s jokes, but there are ways to handle bullies and their brace-ist nicknames. To begin with, you could try these strategies:
- Be Confident: If you show up on your first day of school with your head down, your mouth closed, and your hand over your face, the other kids will pick up on your insecurity. Indeed, teenagers sense self-doubt like predators smell fear. More likely than not, they’ll take advantage of the opportunity to poke fun at you. Instead of cowering, hold your head up high and wear your braces with pride. The more confidence you have, the less nerve they’ll have to pick on you.
- Think of the Long Game: You wear braces because you want a beautiful smile. In the long run, straight teeth will boost your self-esteem and improve your social prospects. So, the next time someone tears into you for wearing braces on your teeth, just remember that by the time they come off, your smile will impress even your biggest tormentors. In a year or two, you’ll be the one shaking your head at their crooked smiles, and, by the time they’re wearing adult braces, you can smile knowing your distress is long over.
Play It Cool: Sometimes, the best strategy is to brush it off. If someone makes fun of your braces, you could just roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, and walk away. You could also just pretend you didn’t hear them. By showing that the bullying doesn’t bother you, you’re giving the trolls nothing on which to feed.
- Make a Comeback: If you prefer to confront the taunts head-on, then you could always turn the tables with a joke of your own—and there are plenty of good comebacks when someone makes fun of your teeth, from corny jokes-“Better a brace case than a space case”-to pointed barbs-“At least I can fix what’s wrong with my face.” Of course, whether you’re able to pull off a little braces humor depends on how much wit and confidence you have.
- Find a Confidant: Sometimes it’s not about handling a bully, but about dealing with the aftermath of their abuse. Perhaps all you need is a shoulder to lean on (or to cry on, as the case may be). If you’re struggling to deal with the taunts, you could turn to a parent, a teacher, a sibling, or even the friendly staff at Labbe Family Orthodontics. With the help of a supportive friend and a caring listener, you can face the worst schoolyard bullies without losing your cool or your sense of self-worth.
How Adults Can Deal with Brace-ism
Brace-ism may be more common among teenagers (what form of ridicule isn’t?), but, sadly, even adults make fun of friends and co-workers who decide to fix their teeth late in life. You may have heard the jibes around the water cooler or at the park: “I thought only kids wore braces.” “Wow, that’s a nice mouth you got.” “Reliving your teenage years?”
As adults, we’re supposed to be better at dismissing such childish behavior, but that doesn’t mean ridicule doesn’t get under our skin. Most adults could benefit from the same advice given to teenagers. Brush it off. Turn the tables with humor. Confide in good friends or family. Maintain your confidence in spite of the small-mindedness of others. Focus on the big picture.
Then again, many adults take a different approach—they tackle the problem by wearing clear braces like Invisalign, which are nearly invisible to others. Many teenagers are also following suit and getting Invisalign instead of traditional braces. While clear trays can be a bit more expensive than metal brackets, they can take the wind out of the bullies’ sails.
Life Is Better with a Smile
No one likes ridicule, but it’s an inevitable part of life. Fortunately, there’s no reason to let it ruin your day or undermine your self-confidence. At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we want kids and adults to be proud of their smiles. We want them to be happy and confident. That’s why we do what we do.
We’re the best orthodontist in Maryland not only because of our superior skill, state-of-the-art technology, and beautiful office but also because we’re a family-run practice that treats each patient like one of our own. Our commitment to quality care goes beyond providing the best braces. We also educate our patients, offer extensive resources, and encourage them throughout the course of their treatment.
Need help choosing braces you’ll feel good about? Need support while you’re getting your teeth straightened? Want to know how to take care of your teeth and respond to the bullies? Reach out to the team at Labbe Family Orthodontics. We’ll help you through the entire process, from start to finish—from the moment you get your braces on to the moment you take them off and see your new pearly whites for the first time. Next time someone tries to humiliate you for your braces? Shrug it off and remember that life is better with a smile.
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