“Braces are the worst.” – anyone who’s ever had them.
In the seventh grade, I was fitted for my first set of braces. Because of a too-small mouth and teeth still needing a home, my at-the-time dentist thought it’d be best to rearrange. A restructuring of sorts to create more space where none existed before. Like if you’d bought a new couch and couldn’t quite make it fit in your living room. Then the deliverymen were coming any minute, and you had to kick it in gear to make the extra space on time. But overall, the short-term sacrifice was worthwhile – on account of how great your new couch looked. And if it’d worked out that way, life might’ve been swell and dandy. Sure I was in pain much of the time, sure my mouth was packed with wax to keep metal from digging into my bleeding gums. But long-term, the 14 months of pain would have evened themselves out.
Except that it take. For whatever reason (orthodontist disagreements, further proof that they’re evil), two years later, I needed a whole new set of hardware. But this time, I also needed accessories to account for heavier lifting. Like a weight belt that was glued – with florescent lights – to the inside of your face.
So in addition to the standard fare, I got a palate piece that pulled my front teeth forward, and headgear that attached with rubber bands – so that my jaw might move more forward over time. Sure I only slept in it (wearing it in public would have been impossible, because I’d have died from inability to comprehend such a task), but in high school (high school!) it was no less embarrassing.
This time when the metal came off, it felt like I’d been given a new chance at life. The birds chirped louder, the flowers bloomed brighter, and it was still three months until spring. It felt that amazing. And I vowed it’d never happen again. Braces shall ne’er again adhere to my teeth. No amount of orthodontist consulting could convince me to spend several grand (of my parents’ money) on slightly moved teeth.* And more importantly, I won’t need teeth work due to my own negligence. Which is why I’m strictly following procedure – sleeping in my retainer and not ripping the permanently attached piece of metal from my teeth. Which, luckily, can only be seen by tall, close-talkers.
I Sleep With Gear
Every night, after brushing my teeth and popping my foot fungus pill, I put in my retainer. It’s tight and fills my teeth with pressure, and it’s extremely comforting. Like stretching for teeth. More so if I’ve skipped a night or two, as my teeth have had all the more time to move. (So maybe not every night.) And it helps me sleep. One – because it’s a 10+ year tradition, and sleeping with my tongue just floating in my mouth (as opposed to near smooth plastic) makes me feel anxious. I need the teeth-squeezing pressure. And two – it reminds me of all the dental work I’m keeping at bay.
By now, it’s high time for another model. Past, actually. The metal has snapped in at least one section, and after countless cleanings, the color is fading into a bleached oblivion. Like any real security blanket, it’s a truly disgusting, and probably toxic. One more drag through the dirt and it’ll completely fall to pieces.
My dentist and I have discussed this extensively; as soon as I’m willing to cough up the $200 (and cough down the Playdoh paste they use for teeth molds), I’ll be the proud owner of a new model. Unlike Linus and other famous blanket-addicts, I’m happy to host a new, non-blarfy version of my security device.
Sure it’s a nerdy way to spend some cash, but considering the hours of use, I’m paying like, cents per day. And gaining loads of sleep in the process.
A small price to pay for never having to slice your gums on spiked metal again.
*Despite this tale of woe, my teeth were never that jacked; I was simply born with a tiny mouth. As I’m told at every teeth cleaning, to which I reply that no mouth should be large enough to fit four hands. Even if my dentist is foreign and small.