This evening my son had soup for dinner. It was about all he could manage, after a trip to the orthodontist this morning. Usually he’s fine after his visits, but today was a different story. He’s nearing the end of his braces-wearing days, and his orthodontist did something to speed him across the finish line.
I feel badly for him. I know how much orthodontia can hurt. I endured years of it myself. Too many years, in fact. Here are some fun facts about my personal experience with the world of orthodontics.
1. The nightmare began with some sort of wire along the roof of my mouth when I was just five. I’m pretty sure that nowadays that sort of thing would be classified as child abuse.
2. My orthodontist was also my mother’s orthodontist, which means he was about a hundred and twenty years old by the time I got to him.
3. The orthodontist occupied the top floor of the same medical building where my dad had his dermatology practice. Once in a while we would stop in and see him, but not often.
4. There was a coffee shop on the ground floor of the building. The cook’s name was Jasper, and he made excellent grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes.
5. Every year at Halloween the orthodontist displayed the same poster of a ton of Halloween candy with a revolting looking witch with rotten teeth.
6. The orthodontist collected old mechanical banks, and a few times he showed me some of them in action.
7. My baby teeth never fell out. Whenever he discovered one that was even slightly wiggly, he would yank it out with a tool that looked like it belonged to an auto mechanic. Anesthesia? I wish.
8. Remember Anthony Michael Hall’s headgear in Sixteen Candles? Yeah, I had one of those.
9. There was a display case in each exam room with row upon row of plaster casts of various snaggle-toothed mouths. There must have been decades worth of hapless patients represented in those cases.
10. The nightmare finally ended when I was fourteen. Nine. Years. Later. I’m fairly certain there’s something in the Geneva Convention about that.
I’m glad the field of orthodontics has evolved. For the most part, my son’s experience has been fairly painless, and his orthodontist has never yanked any of his teeth out with pliers. Still, I’m looking forward to the end. Even after all these years, I still get a little nervous every time I walk through the orthodontist’s door.