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Friday, May 25, 2012  

Brace Yourself

As beautiful as Trash is, she's never had movie-star teeth. The bottom row's a bit crooked, which is something she's never been self-conscious about. It's part of her charm, like Jewel before she got her choppers fixed and got so damn irritating.

And even if Trash were self-conscious about it, that still wouldn't be enough motivation for her to subject herself to long sessions in the orthodontist's chair. She has a longstanding terror of dentists, installed by an incompetent practitioner who mangled her mouth. In fact, her file at the office has a note instructing the hygienist to confiscate her purse and keys when she arrives so she can't just get out of the chair and leave. Again.

For a while now, the dentist she goes to -- who deals with special-needs patients like small children, the developmentally disabled, and my wife -- had been trying to convince Trash to get braces anyway. Trash resisted, calmly but firmly. Until she broke one of her front teeth on…some water. Not ice, not the glass, just water. She made it into the dentist for an emergency appointment the day before she had to leave town for the week, and the dentist explained that her bottom teeth are shifting, and if they don't get straightened, they're going to start knocking out both her front top teeth, a bit at a time. Even Trash is vain enough to want to avoid that.

She also wanted to avoid those uncomfortable metal braces that I and half the people I knew had in junior high school. So she decided to go with the clear plastic trays instead. You can't eat with those things in, but they pop out for meals, and then you brush your teeth, and then you pop them back in. Sucks for people who graze and snack throughout the day, but since Trash isn't one of those people, this would be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezie, as M. Edium likes to say.

The first hitch came when she was at the appointment getting her first set of trays installed -- this in February, mind you, after a whole series of other appointments involving molds and casts and all manner of horrifying experiences for a committed dentophobe. The orthodontist showed her how to pop them in and out, and then reminded her, "Now remember, just water when you're wearing them."

"Right, water and coffee," Trash nodded.

"No coffee," he insisted. "Just water."

Trash looked into his eyes. Then she looked at the half-full Starbucks cup in her hand. Then she considered forcibly introducing the two items.

Because the thing is, Trash needs her coffee. As regular readers know, we both work at home, and part of our daily routine involves keeping her mug full and warm. She drinks coffee instead of snacking. Coffee is her snack. It's not that she drinks a lot, it's that she drinks a little over a long time. Trash tried to convey a bit of this to the orthodontist as best she could, given that she was suddenly shaking all over.

"Just drink your coffee when you have your braces out," he advised, obliviously.

Now, the thing about this system is that you're allowed to have them out for a total of ninety minutes per day. In that hour and a half, you have to fit in all your meals, snacks, and non-water drinks. Not to mention the fact that any time you consume anything other than water, you have to then give your teeth a thorough brushing, and brush your trays while you're at it. The time adds up fast, to the point where I've had to finally develop my previously nonexistent ability to have all of dinner ready at once on the nights I cook (yes, it's been hard on me, too). So Trash testily asked the orthodontist, "How do you drink coffee?" It does take Trash a while to get through a cup, but I don't know anyone who will habitually shotgun a whole mug and then slam the empty cup down on the table like a gunslinger at a saloon. Or at least I didn't used to.

But it seems that there are three different reasons why different things aren't allowed when the braces are in. Some things get trapped in the angstrom of space between the trays and the teeth and immediately start corroding the enamel like termites in a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Some things are hot enough to soften the plastic and cause them to warp, which is a non-starter for instruments that are fashioned with such precision. And still other things cause permanent stains to both the trays and one's teeth. Coffee, as it turns out, does all three. No wonder she loves it so much.

So Trash has spent the last three month trying to figure out a coffee delivery system she can get away with. Waiting for the coffee to cool only solves one of the problems. Straws don't work because the coffee can't be contained once it's in the mouth. And I just haven't had time to steal an IV from the hospital.

But she's making it work. She's drinking less coffee, but faster. Sometimes she'll allow herself a cup of hot water from the tea kettle, with a decadent lemon wedge in it. And there's always the fact that this isn't permanent. She changes the trays every two weeks, and next week she starts on her 7th set. Which means she's almost twelve weeks in. Only sixty-some to go!

It's going to be a long year and a half.

posted by M. Giant 12:51 PM 0 comments


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