October is National Orthodontic Health Month, a time dedicated to celebrating healthy smiles, learning about orthodontic treatment and promoting good oral health. I’m sure you all celebrate annually. Unfortunately, I personally celebrated for five years in a row with various forms of metal in my mouth.
I know what you’re thinking; that seems rather long. In fact, I would go through three schools before completing my regimen: elementary, middle and high school. Two years seems to be the average braces stint. However, my large teeth and small mouth led to the longer sentence.
I would begin wearing an expander in fifth grade. I can still hear the song, “Everybody Hurts,” while it was installed in my mouth. There was a key to crank the expander daily for what was pure torture as it slowly widened my jaw. Sounds like a mechanic’s work, but I assure you it was my orthodontist’s doing. Have you even survived puberty if you haven’t cried while eating a Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet after getting some type of metal put in your mouth?
Next, came braces for my top teeth only. Those would come off after the typical two-year stint and in there place was a retainer with a metal bar. To all the lucky Invisalign wearers, you may have avoided social embarrassment. Yet, even I accidentally threw away my gray, sparkly retainer twice. If I’d had clear braces, I would have had a weekly lunch date with my middle school dumpster.
Following the retainer and the pulling of two baby Dracula teeth with the longest roots ever, I got my braces on AGAIN. This time the bottom braces were also added. To all my fellow braces wearers, I see you and your many class photos where your mouth is shut.
To my daughters, one who has an adorable Michael Strahan gap, and the other with her baby teeth already so close together, I can almost self-diagnose their impending metal mouth moments. I only have one thing to say: I’m sorry.