Saturday, February 27, 2010

About That Retainer ...

Hey, thank you so much for all the incredibly sweet comments! What an encouragement you ladies are! Too kind, really. Thanks again.

Now ... this was written the evening after I got my braces off. Here goes:

Dark Side of Braces

I’m hear to warn you … there is a dark side to having braces. A side no one talks much about, apparently.

The "Retainer.”

Oh, the orthodontist and the assistants throw that word around a lot, like it’s no big deal. But they fail to tell you the truth. Curse them.

Let me explain.

When they removed my braces, finished polishing all the cement off and gave me a mirror, I was so surprised, I cried. I had straight teeth. Jubilation! I couldn't believe it! I was so overcome with emotion. My minor ordeal was over. They had said that I would need to wear a “Retainer”, day and night, for a year and then just at night for another year. I guess I should have paid more attention.

As I left, one of the assistants came over to hug me (she was happy for me) but then she said, “Enjoy that freedom until you come in later for your retainer.” There was that word again, “Retainer”. I walked downstairs a bit subdued. What did she mean by that? I fretted about it for several hours. It really rained on my parade. Such a giant high squelched - it left me feeling emotionally torn. I had 3 hours to wait it out until I knew the truth.

When I returned at 2:00 pm, I had a near 45 minute wait until they put me in the chair. Then the orthodontist appeared with something small and pink, wrapped in paper. He stuck it in my mouth and, I kid you not, the expression on his face changed as he said, “Now, you need to wear this day and night for a year and then a year at night after that.” Remember that scene in “Raiders of The Lost Ark”, where that eccentric French man was dressed like a priest and lifted the lid on the Ark he had stolen from Harrison Ford? He’s watching the angels flying around and he yells, “They’re beautiful!” in his French accent. And then, one looks directly at him and the face changes to an evil, evil expression (maybe a skull, even). Well, that is exactly how I felt, looking at my doc’s face. Seriously! His face changed so seriously and at the same moment, I felt that wretched retainer stuck to the roof of my mouth. I felt ill. All I wanted to do was get out of there. Of course, I said nothing and made polite niceties. An assistant came in and gave me a choice of several, pearlized cases to choose from, some effervescent tablets to clean the thing in monthly (like dentures!) and a few sheets of literature. She, herself, said that she still needs to wear her retainer at night and it’s been 6 years!! Another assistant came in with gloves on to show me how to remove it correctly (don’t pull from the front). She had trouble, giving it a few hard tugs but finally removing it, just to show me how to put it back in. When I tried to speak to her, I sounded like I had Silly Putty stuck to the roof of my mouth and it was hard to keep from spitting.

I finally got to leave. I wanted to run away - far, far away. But no, I had to go to a local store and buy just one item before I went home. I practiced saying, “Thank you”, all the way there, so I wouldn't lisp. Despondent and sad, I went home, where everyone made fun of how I spoke. The first thing I had to say to my daughter was, actually, a scolding and instead of listening, she just stared at my mouth and wanted to know why I was talking funny. Hard to discipline when you are not being taken seriously!

So, there you have it. The real truth about having braces. When you get them off, it’s not the end. It’s just the beginning. But please, please don’t ruin your kids with this information. I just wanted to inform you, as parents, to be prepared, in case your kids have difficultly with the “Retainer”.


I've been wearing the retainer for over a week now and at my last check, my orthodontist said everything looks good. I no longer hate the darn thing and my teeth don't hurt as much as they did. You could say I am adjusting to my new "friend", brushing it day and night, making sure I don't lose it ($250 to replace). Like I have a choice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Evolution Of A 46 Year Old Smile

From May 2009 to the present ...

So, there you have it. What'd ya think?

Amazing how the teeth got younger as the face got older. How does that work?

Next venture (according to Todd): Laser treatments. We will see.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February Days

9 year old birthday approaching!

But how cool - she's totally oblivious to it. Tonight, she asked when her birthday was and when I told her it was in 3 days, she was surprised. What a contrast to her brother, Alec, who spent the two weeks prior to his birthday taking a lot of naps, to make the days go by quicker. What a silly boy! Carmen just isn't a very greedy kid and for that, I am grateful. She has insisted that she doesn't need or want anything. Very sweet but I'm sure if she woke up on Saturday with no gifts to open, she'd be a bit put out. Ya think?

I have managed to find a few things she might like. She'll be getting a "new" bike as well, courtesy of her father's skill at refurbishing her brother's still-in-good-shape bicycle. Bake a cake, hang some balloons and streamers and she'll be a happy girl. She did request a trip to a well-known (locally, at least) salt water taffy store down near the beach, so we'll go there on Valentine's Day (the day after her birthday) for some candy. There is a carousel there and I'm going to surprise her with a ride on that. Simple and low cost - I like that kind of birthday.

I have had my brain focused on finishing my taxes. It's such a relief when they are done and I'll be more happy when I get them mailed out. A necessary evil. Seems like the last few years, I spend at least one evening figuring out medical expenses only to find that we don't have enough to deduct - a cruel irony! We have a flexible spending account which allows us to get that money back throughout the year but somehow it's disappointing to not get that deduction, especially after working so hard. But that's life.

After several sunny and rather warm days, we are facing 10 days straight of rain. But I'll take that compared to being buried in snow as elsewhere in the country.

2 weeks until I go braceless ... no, I'm not counting the days!!