Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ode to a former brace-face

My niece got her braces off yesterday. I still have not seen her new teeth, but hopefully will soon. I can remember getting MY braces off. It was like an evil curse had been lifted. No more sore face, no more sore teeth. And I could eat apples again without cutting them into little tiny cubes. And GUM. Delightful bubble gum. Taffy and candy and chewy stuff. Funny, we go through all that torture to get straight pretty teeth. And as soon as we get them, we want to eat all the junk that will rot holes in them. Odd, that. The worst part of having braces was getting them tightened. My orthodontist was a small woman. We are talking maybe 4 feet tall and all of 100 pounds wearing her "fat" pants. She would take this elastic chain that only looked an inch long and stretch it all the way around from the molars on one side to the molars on the other, hooking around every bracket along the way. To do this, she would literally climb right onto the chair with you and heave with her entire body. It was like being attacked by an elf. As if that wasn't bad enough, about an hour later, as your teeth started to move from the tension of that itty bitty piece of strong elastic, your mouth would start to get sore. Like having a tooth-ache in every single tooth. Then by the evening your whole face would hurt. After a couple of days of that, your teeth would move enough that the pain would stop. Only now the brackets were in a new position because your teeth have moved, and would start to irritate the inside of your mouth. Ever eat a toasted sandwich and scrape the roof of your mouth? Imagine that all he way around. Eventually your mouth gets used to it and the soreness goes away and the scrapes and irritation go away. Usually just in time for the next adjustment. Then the cycle would start all over again. Sometimes to move a single tooth down (or up) you had to hook these little round elastics around certain parts. I was one of the lucky ones, in that I only had to wear those little round elastics for a short time. And it was a good thing too, because they have a habit of shooting out of your mouth every time you open it. You would be sitting in math class, answering a question, when all of a sudden an elastic shoots out and lands on the desk of the cutest guy in your grade. Nothing like a spitty elastic to show that you care. I kind of miss them though, because with my thin hair they were the perfect size for pony tails that actually stayed in. I had a thing at the bottom, below but in front of my teeth called a "bumper". I hated that thing. It gave me sores and made me look like Bubba from Forrest Gump. One time, the dog got ahold of it and chewed it up and I thought I was done with it forever. Nope. My parents had the orthodontist grind it smooth so I could continue wearing it. Sure, I understand that those things are expensive and this was back before there was any sort of coverage for such things. But EWWWWW. And retainers. Ah, the retainer. After my braces I had to wear a retainer for a long time. Along with a headgear at night, and of course the dreaded bumper. I suppose a thin line across my teeth was better than the full metal jacket smile I had before, but talking like sylvester the cat (only a little more spitty) was a high price to pay. You are supposed to take it out to eat, but that is riskier than it sounds. See, you are supposed to carry around this little round case to put it in. You know, so that it doesn't get accidentally thrown away. How would that happen, you ask? Well, being a teenager of course you don't want people to see this gross pink plastic thing that you had in your MOUTH. But also, being a teenager, we all know that not only did you forget to bring your case you probably have no idea where it is anyway. So what to do with the offensive object while you are eating? Why, wrap it in a napkin or a piece of kleenex. Do you want to know the best way to throw away a mouth appliance by accident? Yeah. Wrap it in a napkin or kleenex. I can't tell you how many garbage cans I had to dig through to find it, panicking the whole time because they are expensive and my parents were going to KILL me. Here I was worried that I would be embarassed by my friends seeing my retainer, and yet how cool is it to sort through garbage in plain view at the mall? Sheesh. Between the thousands my parents spent on my teeth, my university education, my M.C.S.E certification, and my eye lasering I figure I might have to take out an insurance policy on my head. Wouldn't want to lose my investment.


hensteeth said...

You are braver than me to write about your braces experience. I'm still traumatized by the whole-body tractor pull thing. (My orthodontist threaded a wire through my braces, then tightened. It was really, really painful.)

Bet your niece looks wonderful and feels even better.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

We really were separated at birth. I can remember those rubber bands flying out of my mouth during Algebra, where I had already been forcefully moved to the front row. Since they were flying right at my teacher, he could never let it go without a smart-ass comment LOL.