Creepy music swelled in my ears as the giant Tootsie Roll bent menacingly toward my prostrate form with pliers while a nun hovered grimly in the background....
No, it was not a nightmare; it was my orthodontic appointment last week at which the staff donned costumes to celebrate Halloween. Notwithstanding the horror soundtrack playing over the sound system in honor of the holiday, it was a happy occasion.
I finally got my braces off!
I may not have mentioned it in a while, but over two years ago I had my wisdom teeth pulled and then had braces installed on my teeth to correct a problem with my bite that was contributing to jaw pain and cracking (i.e., TMJ) when I chewed. The main purpose of the braces was functional, not cosmetic, but the cosmetic part definitely was a bonus that I was eagerly anticipating. I had an overbite, plus my bottom teeth had become crowded and a bit crooked since my wisdom teeth came in.
I distinctly remember rushing to my car two years ago immediately after the braces were put on and eagerly flipping down the visor to peer at my new mouth in the mirror. "I'm hideous!" I shrieked. I had paid extra to get the clear brackets so that the braces would be less noticeable (and the clear brackets did help...the braces are on my teeth in my blog photo, and I don't think they are obtrusive), but I what I wasn't counting on was how BIG the brackets were. They seemed large and clunky and pushed my lips out in a decidedly unflattering fashion. When I smiled, I had to struggle afterward to force my upper lip back down over the enormous brackets. In addition, the wires laced through the brackets were all squiggly and crooked and crazy-looking.
It was nerd central.
On top of looking goofy, my mouth quickly began to hurt. My teeth were sore, and the metal appliances gouged sores in the insides of my cheeks. I had to eat fruit smoothies, mashed potatoes, and applesauce for a few days.
All of these unpleasantries subsided rather quickly. Yes, the soreness reared its ugly head every six weeks when I had my braces tightened, but that wasn't too bad.
I think the hardest part of having braces was that they are Food Magnets. No matter what I ate, it became wedged in the front brackets. Dining out in social settings became more of a challenge as I realized that talking or smiling during a meal easily could reveal a heinous chunk of spinach or other nourishment lodged firmly in an embarrassingly conspicuous location. I knew I had a Situation when my husband averted his eyes and quickly shook his head; that meant that it was time to head to the ladies' room with a toothbrush for some damage control. I was thankful that I was comfortably married and not out on the dating scene!
But that angst is all history now. Now my teeth are totally! all! *nude!* except for a permanent retainer adhered to the back of my bottom front teeth...well, okay, and also except for a removable upper retainer that I have to wear at night and for four hours during the day. The main thing is that today I can safely eat spinach in public with abandon.
I must admit that I like the way my teeth look now, too. I confess that I have often pulled a little mirror out of my desk in the past week to admire them. I'm considering getting them whitened.
The day the braces came off, my husband and I went out for a special meal at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate, and then I celebrated again later that evening by eating candy such as Tootsie Rolls and Milk Duds (sticky treats that are forbidden to those with braces) while I handed out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters who came to my front door.
When my braces went on, I remember thinking that surely I would have a baby in my arms by the time they came off two years later. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but I still have a lot to be happy about. One of the things that the past several years has taught me is that you have fully take advantage of the little causes for celebration in life and relish them.
Excuse me while I go eat a Tootsie Roll.