Sunday, June 7, 2009

And They're Off!

This is a guest post from Elaine Douglas.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever hear myself say “I hope to get my braces off by my 64th birthday.” But I did. Many times. And it almost happened. They actually came off a couple of weeks after the birthday. How did I get here? Definitely a F(requently)A(sked) Q(uestion)!!

About two years ago when I was in for my (almost) semi-annual appointment, my dentist decided to develop a “long range plan treatment plan” for me. Actually it is quite encouraging to begin a long-range plan when you’re nearly ready for Medicare. Anyway, one of the first recommendations was orthodontia. Most of us probably remember from junior high school: metal bands, regular tightening of the brackets, wax to prevent the wires from poking the inside of our mouth, etc. Not fun!! But this time it was a lot different. I didn’t spring for the more expensive Invisalign braces. I figure they aren’t truly invisible so I might as well not try to kid anyone. Today the brackets are applied directly to the teeth, skipping the awful metal bands. Fortunately, each adjustment only resulted in a day or two of minimal pressure, never any actual pain. It always amazed me how many adult patients I saw in the waiting room, and how many people I encountered in other places who were also in braces. I guess I just never noticed before. This journey has been worth it. Whether you had braces a half-century ago and have noticed some shifting of your teeth, or just always wished you could straighten them, I can definitely recommend considering seeing an orthodontist.

Finally, one week ago the braces came off, I got my retainer, and now I’m ready for the next step in my long-range plan. This will involve “restorative work”, ie a little cosmetic dentistry. But why not? The kids are grown and flown (certainly with memories of their own braces) and I guess now it’s my turn again. I have fond memories of incredulous stares at the 45-year high school reunion. I must have been the youngest looking one there with braces and (now) glasses! It was like I was in junior high all over again.

But for the 50-year reunion in a few more years, I hope to have contact lenses, or at least snazzier frames. Now about these few extra pounds. This will really require some dedication.

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