Sunday, 17 February 2008

The pearly whites

I have pretty nice teeth. I get quite a lot of comments about how white they are, and how lucky I am. I feel like such a fake.

I often get asked what I use to brush my teeth to make them so white....umm, tooth paste? My teeth appear extra white because I was over-fed fluoride as a child, which resulted in discolouration of the teeth in just the right places. I have large white patches on my two front teeth and other white flecks elsewhere, on the teeth I reveal when I smile.

I have run the orthodontic gauntlet in my time too. The majority of my baby teeth were pulled out in the dentists chair, as opposed to falling out naturally (apparently to deal with over-crowding issues), and I have had braces not once...not twice, but three times.

I was nine years old and in the fifth grade, when I received my first set; these were fitted to straighten my hideously crooked teeth. My parents didn't order portraits of me from the class photographer that year, because they didn't want a record of my metal mouth. If that rule had been held consistently, there would be no photographic records of me during 7th, 8th or 9th grade either, when I had my second set of braces. These were fitted, supposedly to correct an under-bite that possibly made me qualify as a candidate as Jay Leno's sister....It didn't work, but I do remember the day I got the second set removed.

My Mum asked me what food had I been dying to eat, that had been off limits while the braces were on. I told her I was dying to bite into an apple. So off to the fruit stall we went.

My Mum bought me the deliciously crisp green apple I had hand selected. Before the fateful first bite, I considered the apple for a moment. I took in its unblemished skin, skin so shiny it reflected the light bathed scene behind me. I considered its roundness; its solidity and the weight of this piece of fruit in my clutching eager hand, and when I could bare it no longer, I endeavoured to sink my teeth into the skin, piercing it, and anticipating my mouth to be flooded with the tart, juicy tang I was so longing. Instead my teeth failed me, and bounced off that taut skin like I had just attempted to bite a chunk out of a metal shot put...Oh, and the PAIN! My God, I can still feel it. I remember panicking, and immediately pulling my hand up to my mouth to make sure my teeth were still intact and hadn't spontaneously shattered upon impact. My gums had turned to jelly, so it seemed, due to having been released of the orthodontic imposed tension...I think I ate nothing but custard for three days after that.

Fast forward 6 years to my 21st birthday, when I had received my third set of braces only a couple of weeks prior. After the second set was deemed a failure, my parents were advised to wait until my jaw had finished growing before other corrective measures were considered. As you can imagine, I wasn't too keen on doing any more with my teeth, and I refused to consider other options. But as time went on, it was found that my back teeth were being worn down at an alarming rate, due to the position of my jaw. On top of that, the self-consciousness I felt about my under bite were causing me to tense my jaw to a point where I felt I had somehow broken it. It really was that painful. To hide my under bite, I also avoided smiling. One day, my Dad mentioned that his co-worker has seen me at my work place and thought I looked like a miserable bastard (my parents have always felt it their duty to pass on all negative comments). This comment was in fact, the kick in the pants I needed to get me to do something about the whole jaw issue. I didn't feel miserable, so why should I look miserable?

I had a jaw reconstruction, which required me to have my jaw wired shut for a month, hence the necessity for braces. After a month, the wires were cut and I had to wear a number of bands over night for another month or so. It was a painful operation - my top gum was cut through and moved forward and the palette was split and adjusted accordingly...but it has paid off. I no longer suffer any pain and I can say, even at 34 years old, I do not have one single filling.....I also smile more, and as they say "when your smiling, the whole world smiles with you".

Submitted for this week’s Sunday Scribbling prompt - teeth.

16 comments:

forgetfulone said...

No fillings! Wow! But, you have had your share, and then some, of dental procedures. I wish my parents had put braces on my teeth, but it wasn't as common then as it is now. Now, I'm too old, in my opinion. I don't think my gums and teeth could take the stress.

paisley said...

what a lovely ending to a less than fairy tale ordeal.. so glad the outcome was well worth it....

Tracey said...

Oh my stars. What you have been through! As paisley said, I'm glad it has had a happy ending, and I hope that the positive comments you get now are making up for the negative ones passed on to you when you were younger.

M as in Mint said...

Fortune indeed favours the brave! :)

Lilibeth said...

A fortune in braces. That makes it doubly amazing to have no fillings. Usually teeth with braces don't get taken care of so well, especially by children. You did well.

Kathleen said...

Wow, girl....what an ordeal! But having seen that pretty smile in person, I can say it was worth all you went through!

myrtle beached whale said...

you definitely earned your beautiful teeth. Enjoy them.

tumblewords said...

Wow! What a trip! Glad it all turned out well for you - that's sure a high point! Nice post!

Tylene said...

After going through that ordeal I'd be smiling all the time! lol!!

jeanie said...

Oh - I so feel for you.

I too got adult (well, very late teen) braces.

I have had orthodontists, prosthodontists, a ceramist, a maxillo-facial surgeon and periodontists all working on my smile.

The Brave said...

Oh Jeanie - you have my sympathy, do tell.

gautami tripathy said...

Somehow your post saddened me. You had to go through rough times..

snooze time, baby!

Beautiful Witch said...

I had orthodontic work too, but only had braces once (thank goodness!). My teeth are very straight, but I get some jaw tension, apparently a well known side effect of braces that they left out of the brochure? Oh well.

Great post. :)

Lynda said...

wow that is a huge story - It would be interesting to hear how that ordeal impacted on your development at those ages... You are indeed brave!

Shyam said...

oooo... that sounds like it was all WAY painful! You're a brave man!

Heather said...

Wow! You have been through a lot to get those pearly whites. The compliments are well-deserved! Your description of the "apple moment" was perfect. I could just feel your anticipation -- and your pain. Ouch!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope your tooth fairy will be a lot more dependable than ours. ;o)