Growing up in a small, rural community in Southwestern Ontario, the only dentist within 50 miles was my dentist. He knew the community by their teeth. Who had dental plans and who was a farmer. Who needed the gas and who was going to need braces in 5 years.
23 years ago, my sister and I were his first “brace cases”.
Because we came from a farming family with no dental benefits, we received the benefit of being his guinea pigs, and a discount on what traditional braces would have cost in the big city.
The excitement of getting braces when one is young can never be measured. For 2 years, I was clad in silver, and then silver and elastics, until finally I was down to a removable top retainer, and a fixed, semi-permanent bottom retainer. I managed to grow out of the top retainer, but the bottom one remained with the expectation that it would be needed to keep everything in place when the wisdom teeth made their appearance and subsequent [ouch] departure.
I lived with the bottom retainer, silver bands circling two bottom teeth, with a wire bar adjoining them for 22 years all told. It was old school. All the dentists that came after my first one were intimidated by that retainer. Remove it? No Way. Go back to the original dentist who installed it. “We will work around it.”
That retainer became a part of me, showing off in big smiles, making children laugh, keeping my tongue occupied in times of quiet.
Until this week. And the glue holding one band to one tooth finally released. With a little persistence, I was able to take off the glueless band, and the wire, leaving one lost silver band stranded alone. Now, my new dentist is going to have to figure out how to disassemble what’s left of that retainer. I will be silver-less. Perhaps I can get a charm installed next, but I don’t expect it to be permanent, or to get a discount on it. They certainly don’t make dentists like they used to.