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.


jugglingpaynes said...

I'm really really sorry. Not about the retainer, but about the fact that you just gave me an image of Daffy Duck giving Bugs Bunny a scolding. :o)

I know it's a pain in the neck, but on the bright side, you can take the retainer out when you eat and brush your teeth. (big plus, in Marina's opinion) You don't want to ruin all the lovely work that went into straightening your teeth. I told our orthodontist about a friend of Marina's that admitted she stopped wearing her retainer after a couple of weeks because she didn't see the point of it. He shook his head and said two months from now, the teeth can suddenly shift back again and then all of the work done would be ruined. Marina is supposed to get her top retainer next month. Her bottom retainer is clear and she said it was no big deal once she was used to it.

Loved the Raiders of the Lost Ark analogy. :o)

Peace and Laughter,

Cate said...

What a bummer! Bronte has been told that she'll need a retainer when her braces are off too, however they are talking about cementing a wire across the back of her back teeth, so it won't be nearly as intrusive as what you have to deal with. And night AND day? I thought retainers were just for night.

Hang in there girl [[hugs]]]