Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brace Face No More!


It all started with an innocuous query to my dentist four years ago. During a routine cleaning I asked him if he could whiten my teeth. Well, much like an alcoholic that asks a friend "Do you think I have a drinking problem?", my dentist saw the opening to give me the ugly truth.

"Jerry, I could whiten your teeth. But given the shape your teeth are in, it wouldn't be worth it. Your bite is collapsing, your molars are slanting inwards, you still have a baby tooth, and your upper teeth are slanted inward so far that they are digging into your lower gum & is causing serious periodontal disease. You will need dentures within ten years. So yeah, I could whiten your teeth, but you really should get braces first."

Dr. Vincenzo is nothing if not direct.

He then handed me the card of a local Orthodontist, Dr. Mark Lively. I called & scheduled a consult. And thus started a 37-month sojourn that ended two days ago, when I finally got my braces removed. The initial consult was, if nothing else, illuminating. Dr. Lively is a guy whose name fits him perfectly - an always smiling, upbeat, song-humming, joke-telling wiseaker. "Bite down", he instructed me. "Now open.....hmmmm....bite down again....hmm..." Much like a lumberjack inspecting his next tree, he looked, inspected, hummed whatever song was playing in his office, hummed some more, then stopped, took a deep breath, exhaled & gave me the prognosis. "Okay. You got like four things going on in your mouth..." He then explained them in great detail that pretty much confirmed what I thought. I should have gotten those dang braces when I was 15 years old. I asked him, well, can you fix me? He replied, "I love challenges, and YOU, Jerry, will be a challenge. Yes I can do it."

And he did it. For three years and one month, I learned all about bite plates, utility arches, slanted incisors, scissor bites, impacted cuspids...and pain. Broken wires. Jabbing wires. Double-helix wires reinforced to somehow keep my constant gum-chewing deep bite from severing...but still did. There were many times where I would call up his Angel Of Mercy, Lindi, and cuss up a blue streak & threatened felonies unless Mark would pull these things out of my mouth. Gimme the dentures. I had had enough.

But I talk big. I hung in there. Mark & his staff were eternally patient with me, and on Monday October 12, 2009, they came off. As I was scheduling my follow-up for my retainer fitting, Mark came out & handed me a gift. A bottle of wine. Probably cuz I was a 'bottle of whine' throughout the whole process. I actually cried when he gave me the gift.

Now, who in the heck cries getting a bottle of wine from an orthodontist? For that matter, who in the heck GETS a bottle of wine from an orthodontist? Well I did. And I did. So there. And part of the reason for the tears was the realization that, even though the day I had long been waiting for had finally arrived, there was genuine sadness that it was over. I had grown very fond of my visits to see Mark, Lindi, Michelle, Essie & the rest of gang. And I think that they enjoyed seeing me. Well, except for the felony-threatening part. The realization that I wouldn't be seeing these wonderful people anymore made me sad.

But now for the good news:

NOW I can go get my teeth whitened.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

That's a lovely and lively tale, Jer. I'm glad I only had to listen to you whine for a year about those damn things. Go have some ribs and corn on the cob.