This archived article was written by: Dixon Woodruff
In August, I was diagnosed with a serious condition known as not perfect teeth. In most of the world there is, sadly, no treatment. People who are born without a straight smile often have to deal with it their whole lives. Had I been born outside such a fine first-world country as this one, I would have been one of these less fortunate souls. Thankfully, there is a cure and it is called braces.
The idea of dental alignment has been around for thousands of years. More modern approaches were born in the 1700s in France. Today, high tech procedures were developed to make the process convenient.
The steps are simple: find a person whose teeth aren’t perfectly aligned, make them pay thousands of dollars, cement metal contraptions to their teeth, with resistance, slowly break the teeth free from the jaw, realign the loose bones to perfection, break off the cement with nothing but physical force and then make sure the patient has to maintain this new alignment for the rest of their life or it was all a waste.
Without a perfect smile, I have no chance for success in this country. I will never get married, I won’t have a job that pays above minimum wage and I will die alone after a miserable and disappointing life. I logically decided that since my teeth were slightly out of place, I should go through this process. I forked over my hard-earned cash and the journey began.
With an unnaturally happy smile, the orthodontist got down to the dirty work. In about an hour, I had embarked on a path that would surely lead to happiness and success. The very first change noticed was the pain. As my teeth were slowly being pulled from their strong roots, I realized that teeth have a lot of nerve endings. My diet quickly changed from eating anything I ever wanted to eat to only food that I could manage to choke down without any contact on my tender, pearly whites.
The next fun consequence came with the constant rubbing of sharp metal on my tongue, cheeks and gums. Canker sores replaced friends. Your previous friends hid themselves from you because braces are automatically associated with awkward middle school years. In my 20s my old friends find that I am more like the younger brother of a friend just tagging along with the older, much more wanted friend. Canker sores from the constant chaffing of the wires and brackets are nothing compared to the canker sores in your heart from lost friendships.
Once the agonizing pain has temporarily subsided from the regular tightening, some foods are once again possible to eat without an abnormal amount of pain. One of the amazing things about braces is their potential to store food for long periods of time. Like a squirrel with his cheeks full of nuts, you too can have a five-course meal stored in the nooks and crannies of your braces. I call these little nuggets from previous meals “flavor babies.” If you really liked dinner from three nights ago, simply use a toothpick and you can find leftovers for a snack whenever you would like.
Kissing is awesome with braces. It is almost impossible to describe kissing with braces to those who have yet to experience it. I can only compare it to trying to lick the cake batter off an egg beater while it is spinning on high. It should be on every bucket list ever made.
The end result of braces is a smile properly aligned or smile that blends in with all the other “perfect smiles” in the world. Braces may not fix all the problems in the world. They are a pain and if you are too ugly, braces won’t do much at all. However, bad teeth can easily take away from other nice features of the face. What is inside is much more important than the outside. The surface breaks down with time, but what is deepest inside lasts. For those ugly faces out there, simply remember the movie “Inception.” It’s not the teeth that’s most important, it’s all about the teeth within the teeth. It’s not about your smile, it’s about what is making you smile.