Usually are just told to wear braces because they need them and that is that. You are told you need them and you wear them, and since usually this happens in early adolescence, it feels like no one cares what you feel during it. I think this must have been the main motivation behind drawing SMILE-A Dental Journey, a great web comic that is nostalgic, sweet, and geared towards young adults.
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, it is a classic sort of webcomic. It includes a slice of life, a good look back that is heartwarming, and of course it makes fun of (presumably) Rania’s early teen self. It links the progress between a sixth grader and a seventh grader with that of wearing braces. The whole strip starts with an accident in which Rania has her front two teeth knocked backwards into her jawbone, damaging the nerves and hurting herself badly. It is all okay, as she was going to get braces anyway, and this she does.
The comic from than on is an emotional rollercoaster of shame, acceptance, and the general ponderings and meanderings of an eleven/twelve year old girl trying to look, feel, and act older than she is. The comic touches on issues of family, friendship, love, identity, and one of the central pieces is its real life reading of the humiliation associated with wearing braces. It deals with it in real life situations with no sugar coating; the damned thing is uncomfortable, occasionally painful, unsightly, and does not help with self-confidence at all. However, it is also necessary, and the segments with her trips to the orthodontist make this abundantly clear, which I feel is totally worth it. It is, in short, an adolescent’s relationship with her orthodontry, reflecting her relationship with herself ,and a such is a fantastic coming of age story done through orthodontics. Who could ask for more, eh?