My 39 Year Dental Saga

I’m nearly 40, and I’ve had braces for nearly 9 years. Now that’s some jacked up teeth. Always a point of suffering for me, terrible overbite. Teased since I was a little kid. I say “since” because I’ve even gotten teased about my teeth as an adult by adults. Kids teasing kids I’ll give you. I even have gotten teased by kids as an adult.
 Almost as bad is being a pseudo “dental wonder.” A dentist tip is bad enough for a little kid, but when one dentist calls another in and they lean over you to see how bad your overbite is, they might as well be teasing you. Just recently as and adult I had to got thru the same thing. I’ve got some weird bone in my mouth that’s apparently bigger than normal. Two nurses had to come in and poke their fingers in my mouth, just to see.
 Braces suck period. My parents got me started on getting my teeth fixed when I was a teenager. Eventually I broke my headgear. My parents asked me if I wanted to continue or not. What was I going to say? That shit hurt, and it looked ridiculous. PLUS, I had to wear it to school now and again. You think kids tease you for buck teeth? Try wearing headgear.
 The thing about getting braces when you’re young, is that you’ll have sweet teeth when it matters, high school and college. Plus, Mom and Dad can over them. That’s shit’s not cheap.
 It’s always amazed me too how people think you’re a halfbreed or missing a chromosome if you have dental issues. They seem shocked when you can speak.
 Another interesting thing about braces, is you can store food in them, and not usually by choice. You’ll be walking around and find an onion piece suddenly in your mouth. Wow, I haven’t had onions for like a week! You’re like a pissed of chipmunk in winter.
 My orthodontist’s office is geared towards kids, because that’s probably about 95 percent of his clientele. Another couple percent are adults who got their teeth fixed but didn’t wear their retainers so now they’re back for more. Then there’s me. My orthodontist says I’m the patient he’s had the longest, and I need to get done soon, before he retires. They don’t even CHARGE me for visits anymore. They should give me a damn key.
 So the ortho office is decorated with all this superhero and comic book shit. When you get started you get to pick whether you get a “before” photo with Superman or the Fantastic Four. I wanted my photo with four of the hot dental assistants. They don’t have to worry about little kids staring at their boobs, just me, patient zero.
 It’s also a tough one when your orthodontist looks like he needs to make an appointment with himself. He’s supposed to be an expert on my mouth, but apparently has had all the mirrors in his house covered or removed.
 Now, it’s all so structured. They put you in the chair, “put you back” and then blind you with the prison escape light. The dental assistants do most of the work, then the orthodontist comes over and pretends he’s looking, pokes you with a hook and send you on your way. Most of the girls wear a little something, like a mask, or glasses or something. One girl practically wears a welding suit. There are a couple of girls who don’t wear any facial protection. They must like to get splashed with saliva from people they barely know.
 It’s like a throwback to the old dental days. Used to be no one cared. Blood and spit would be spraying everywhere, the patient’s, doctor’s and the assistant’s. Still had the same bloody hooks though, that hasn’t changed.
 They’ll always have you “help” by holding your lips open…instead of a speculum, they give you a lip seperator, basically a…speculum. They have you stretch your lips and then ask if you’re comfortable.
 I also hate getting my teeth cleaned. It always hurts. I have nerves close to the surface of my teeth I’ve been told. I always have to get plaque scraped off, and something done to my gums that makes them bleed. The hygienist tells me my gums are bleeding “due to excessive plaque buildup.” No, my gums are bleeding because you are peeling them back and poking them with a metal prod. When I came in, my mouth had plaque build up and wasn’t bleeding. When I went to bed last night, my mouth had plaque build up. They didn’t start bleeding until someone started scraping teeth and probing gums.
 You have to get your braces tightened all the time with new wires. They always ask you if anything is uncomfortable, poking or hurts. Ya, how about the 5K of orthodontia in my mouth? ALL of it is uncomfortable, poking and hurts.
 One of my issues was that there was not a lot of room in my mouth, so they had to make room. So they wire in this thing called an expander. Looks like a mechanical spider they put in your mouth. I was supposed to give it a crank every other night, to spread its “legs” and these spread my mouth. It’s like attached to brackets in my mouth, seemingly permanent.
 So my mouth expands in like record time, and they decide the spider can come out. This happened because my wife who was my girlfriend at the time, decided if one crank every other night was good, three every night would be better. Just about put me thru the roof each time, but sped things up. So this thing is done and needs to come out. They go in with bolt cutters like the Jaws of Life, like we’re on the side of the freeway in horrible twisted wreckage. They’re digging in here like a concentration camp trying to cut thru barbed wire to freedom. Finally they break loose.
 Then there’s these “impressions.” They take this crap and put it in your mouth, and it hardens and makes a model of your teeth and jaws. I’ve had more of these done of my mouth than Bigfoot has had casts of his footprints. They always get stuck, or gag me with the plates or the cement. But these nearly 100 casts of my mouth are SOMEWHERE I suppose. Probably in some museum of the bizarre.
 So the final step is jaw surgery. They break my lower jaw and move it forward. Then my mouth and jaw are banded shut for 6 weeks. Despite the obvious weight loss advantage, it’s going to suck. I can’t even use a straw for a while. I have to squeeze a feed back into my piehole for nutrients.
 The jaw surgery should help my sleep apnea, TMJ, chewing alignment, and all that. I’m a catch, ladies!
 Everyone tells me how different I am going to look after the surgery. Maybe I can fake my death and start anew, who knows? I’d like them to wrap my head in bandages until I heal, and when they unwrap them, a completely different actor can be playing my character.
 Insurance was no help. Told me time after time, the surgery was not a medical necessity. Until the time I told them the court costs and settlement cost from me suing them would be much less than simply paying for the surgery. Thank god I didn’t need a lung or new heart. Suddenly it was “Congratulations, we’ve approved your procedure!”
 After 39 years. I’ll finally have straight teeth and a jawline. Hopefully not Jay Leno’s jawline. Hopefully I’ll drop about 20 LBS. Watch out ladies!

Originally published at on April 13, 2016.

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