When I was younger, I was affectionately nick-named, “Brace Face” because I spent a good number of years, adorned with a mouthful of orthodontic paraphernalia. I’m very thankful that my mother saw fit to lovingly come to the aid of her buck-toothed daughter but I endured some “braces, elastics, retainers and head gear” misery as a result.
I am convinced that the epitome of “horrifying” is when a pre-teenaged girl has to deal with orthodontic mishaps. One day, I had the opportunity to kiss a cute boy at a fundraising kissing booth at school. One of the elastics in my mouth popped out at the most inappropriate time and landed on this boy’s nose. I didn’t know my face could turn that shade of red.
Then there was the time when I wore my new mohair vest to school. It was gym class and I happened to yawn at the same time as I was lifting my arms to pull the vest over my head. The mohair yarn caught on my braces and a good chunk of my vest unraveled. As I stood in that change room, with my mouth attached to my vest, there was a very awkward silence as the other girls stared in disbelief. I imagine they were thinking something along the lines of, ” I’m SO glad it didn’t happen to me!”
Most likely, no one else could boast of a mouth gear – life saving experience. Naneen, my new lab partner, had recently moved to Canada from Brazil and she couldn’t understand the teacher’s lecture about safety rules. She enthusiastically picked up a red hot test tube without wearing gloves and reacted quickly by throwing it my direction. It headed towards my face but my mouth gear stuck out so much that it shielded me from being burned. No question that my mouthpiece was my friend and hero that day!
I also have quite the history of losing those blasted mouth retainers. You know the ones that the orthodontist makes you wear for a while, after the braces are removed? My first retainer was consumed by a vacuum when I absentmindedly left it on the rug in the living room. The second one was eaten by our dog and the third one was left on top of our car when my mother drove me to school one morning.
So, you can imagine my hesitation when my dentist recently suggested that I get a retainer – all these orthodontic nightmares came flashing back.
About a month ago, I had a tooth ache so I headed to the dentist. He couldn’t find anything wrong with the tooth so he made the suggestion that a retainer would stop me from grinding my teeth in my sleep. Immediately, my defenses went up because I was not the least bit interested in re-visiting “Retainerland” again. My husband had never mentioned that he heard me grind my teeth while I slept; snoring – yes, but no gnashing of teeth. So, I went home and took my persistent tooth ache with me.
Eventually, I had to surrender.
These days, I humbly wear a drool-producing, speech-impairing plastic retainer every night. My husband can’t take me seriously any more because I slobber my way through all words with “s’ in them. He says I sound like the kid in the Christmas story who froze his tongue to a pole…but the important thing is that I’m tooth ache free.
No question that as we get older, comfort is more important than beauty. Case in point – it’s 5:00 in the afternoon and I’m still wearing my “writing attire” – my husband’s flannel pajama bottoms!