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Pubescent Braces

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A character wearing braces to signify them as being young and in that awkward puberty stage where they're still growing (usually under fourteen, though older kids with these sort of braces aren't uncommon). Often the character looks gangly or nerdy/dorky but by the time they're removed, they've grown into a more attractive and mature-looking individual.

This is usually done in flashbacks. These are rarely Braces of Orthodontic Overkill but instead are more normal braces made to show that the character is either Hollywood Homely or a nerd.

To show that they are young, characters wearing these tend to be a Burger Fool. This trope also often overlaps with Nerd Glasses.

Is Truth in Television to an extent. Even if Hollywood tends to play this up a bit, braces are a common part of growing up, with about four million Americans at any given time undergoing some sort of orthodontic treatment, and about eighty percent of them being between the ages of six and eighteen. Of course, in the real world, braces can be worn at any age, meaning they are not just pubescent but in the USA, some health insurances only pay for it for people under a certain age (early to mid 20), making this trope due to the pricetag of paying out of pocket.


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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • A Song of Grumbling & Cotton Candy: Back in high school, Pizzazz was asked out by a girl with braces. She reacted negatively and made fun of her braces. That girl was her current girlfriend, Jerrica. Pizzazz says that she grew into herself since then.
  • Ships Ahoy!: At the start of Part Two, four-year-old Oscar is described as wearing braces, which adds to him being Endearingly Dorky. He does get them off, but is forced to wear a retainer at night in place of them.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, Miriam and Tyler are 13 and are shown to wear braces.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A Wedding (1978): Muffin, the bride, is in her late teens, still has braces, and is one of the more unassertive and innocent characters.
  • Just One of the Guys: Linda, a girl Terry's younger brother tries to seduce, has a pair of braces and is more focused on studying than responding to Buddy's advances.
  • Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation: 14-year-old Suzy Hobbs dislikes how her braces make her look and constantly keeps her mouth closed so no one will see them.

  • Mallory Pike in The Baby-Sitters Club gains braces around the time she joined the club as one of its junior officers. She does get embarrassed by them in her books, but tries to push the fact out of her mind.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Erica from The Goldbergs is gorgeous now but in middle school, she was a hapless nerd with braces that gave her a lisp. One episode had a series of accidents restore her previous look, including braces to fix a dislodged tooth.
  • In an episode of Friends Rachel's new boyfriend has a picture of a girl on his desk, leading to Rachel making catty remarks. After explaining that the girl is his sister, Rachel remarks embarrassedly "And I'm sure she'll look very nice when she gets her braces off."
  • Cold Case: In "Mind Hunters," closeups prominently display 14-year-old Tina James' braces as she begs for her life, which helps emphasize both her youth and the depravity of the smirking man about to kill her.
  • In Season 1 of The Brady Bunch, the episode "Brace Yourself" revolves around 12-year-old Marcia getting braces, which she thinks make her look "Ugly, ugly, ugly!"

  • From Bye Bye Birdie, the song "How Lovely to Be A Woman":
    When you're a skinny child of fifteen, wired with braces from ear to ear,
    You doubt that you will ever be appealing.
    Then Hallelujah! You are sixteen and the braces disappear,
    And your skin is smooth and clear, and you have that happy grown-up female feeling.

    Video Games 
  • In Life Is Strange, you can find a photo of a younger Max Caulfield (the protagonist) with braces.
  • Love & Pies: Amelia and Joe are shown sporting acne and braces as teens in a flashback photo showcasing their prom night.

    Web Animation 
  • The "Hero of the Month" short of DC Super Hero Girls for Wonder Woman has a portion that depicts her as a toddler and as a preteen. She wore braces when she was younger but by the time of the series they've been removed.

    Web Comics 
  • Kat Vance from Sequential Art wore braces and a retainer in her grade school days; see strip #239. Alpha Bitch Hilary Locke kept a photo of Kat with her orthodontic devices, and added it to a nostalgia slideshow at her school reunion; see strip #035.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Mobius is first seen as a high school freshman and has braces at that point.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "Hayley Smith, Seal Team Six", a younger Hayley is seen in a photo book wearing braces.
  • Darren from As Told by Ginger originally had Braces of Orthodontic Overkill but by the end of the first season, they were removed. He instantly went from an average-looking "nerd" to a popular Chick Magnet.
  • Baymax!: Twelve-year-old Sofia wears braces.
  • Providing the page image is Sharon Spitz from Braceface, who wears braces with electromagnetic powers due to being affected by a lightning storm. Her braces act as a frequent source of anxiety for her.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: Butt-Head. As the film shows, he has been wearing them for quite a few years, complete with retainers during his prepubescence.
  • Jimmy from Ed, Edd n Eddy has what appears to be a non-removable retainer, usually rendered as a featureless loop surrounding his head. Jimmy's voice is unusually high pitched, and he follows Ed's sister Sarah in much the same way a young child would.
  • Leela from Futurama is shown to have worn braces in a flashback to her childhood.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Mabel Pines — she and Dipper are 12 years old during the summer when the show takes place, though only Mabel wears braces. Mabel is less concerned than Dipper is about "acting mature" (though she does show a lot of emotional maturity for her age). (Also: a photo flashback reveals she's had braces at least since she was 9 years old.)
    • A flashback in one episode shows that Grunkle Stan also wore braces when he was a young teenager.
  • In middle school Kim from Kim Possible looked more gangly and immature. She also wore braces.
  • Luan Loud in The Loud House is 14 years old and wears braces, not of the Orthodontic Overkill variety, but they still make her out to be awkward. Also, a few-years-old photo shows that Lori also wore braces when she was approximately Luan's age.
  • Of the many gangs inhabiting Motorcity, only the "Mama's Boys" seem to have access to an orthodontist as Junior, the leader, has braces. (Though the whole gang looks like they could be in their late teens/ early 20s, their uniform includes backwards baseball caps and overalls, so they're definitely going for the "young and mischievous" look.)
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In the flashback of "The City of Clipsville" where the titular girls grow into teenagers, Bubbles has visible braces when she briefly shows her teeth.
  • Total Drama:
    • For the duration of Island, Beth wears braces that are part of her nerdy and "awkward teen years" look. During the two days between Island and Action, Beth takes the opportunity to get her braces replaced with a retainer. The change boosts her confidence to the point of incidental arrogance, not in the least because she also got a hot new boyfriend out of her visit to the dentist.
    • The female Revenge of the Island intern wears braces, which along with her permanently wrinkled shirt give her a childish appearance.
  • Toby from Trollhunters is the same age as Jim (approximately 16) but has braces to highlight his immaturity, awkwardness, and geekiness.
  • Eliza Thornberry of The Wild Thornberrys has braces and a massive overbite. When combined with her overlarge glasses and pigtails, she definitely gives off the "awkward youth" vibe.