That day so many years ago when my dentist requested a meeting with my mother I already knew it wasn’t going to be good news, because he usually ended our visits repeating the same old story about brushing our teeth properly.
Doctor Lurie explained to my mother that if we didn’t correct the angle of my teeth I would end up with serious gum recession on the three front bottom teeth simply because food was pushed down against my gums every time I bit into something.
“How does one change the angle of the teeth?” my mother asked him.
“Rosanne will have to go to an orthodontist and get fitted with braces.” said Dr Lurie.
Something was wrong with my hearing, I thought I heard “braces”.
“You’re joking, right?” I said, “I went to an orthodontist when I was a kid. I did all that already!” I remembered the pain and the yuck factor when food got stuck in the wires.
“Did you wear braces then?” he asked.
“No, thank god! I wore a plate thingie on my top palate…”
“Well now you must wear braces and get it done properly,” he said smiling behind his big round glasses.
“But Doctor Lurie I’m nineteen years old, I’m at University, I’m too old to wear braces,” I said.
My Mother never begrudged doing whatever was necessary for her children, I became the only student at my university who wore braces. They were big, and ugly, it was difficult to eat with a barbed wire fence stored in my mouth, and it effectively stopped any attempts at smooching.
My Mr F stuck with me in spite of the difficulties
I had braces on my wedding day, though my orthodontist gave me a wedding gift: he took them off the top two teeth in the front “for the photos“.
There was one particular incident that Mr F and I have never forgotten. Our vacations were usually spent camping in the bush, far from civilization, our idea of a perfect evening was sitting in front of the campfire looking at the night sky, listening to the sounds of the African veld, and Mr F’s guitar.
On one of those trips in the middle of nowhere the unthinkable thing happened: the wire going across my braces snapped, leaving exposed bits of wire that sliced into my cheeks. Unable to cut it off, we tried covering the sharp points with wads of chewing gum, with paper stuck to wads of chewing gum, with leaves, with twigs… Nothing worked.
We drove about a hundred miles to the nearest big city where we were grateful to find a public phone that wasn’t out-of-order (this was the olden days before cell phones) and through a friend of a relative got a referral to a dentist (there wasn’t an orthodontist in the town) who was able to take the wire off.
Why am I telling you about the braces I wore so many years ago?
I had dental surgery on Monday because the gums on my three front bottom teeth have receded so much there’s already been bone loss.
When I asked the periodontist if he could explain the severe gum recession, he answered with a question, “Did you wear braces?”
I sat awake in the periodontist‘s chair for over two hours, my mouth numb my tongue “fat” (I lost count of how many injections he gave me), and watched while he sliced a piece of skin off my top palate, and grafted it onto the gums of my three bottom teeth. He’s happy with his handiwork, and praised me for being an excellent patient “who sat calmly through the procedure” [which I think must have earned me several Girl Guide meditation badges!]. Before he can claim the surgery a total success though, we have to see whether there are blood vessels in the area of the grafted skin.
Today I’m on strong painkillers, feel nauseous from the after effects of all that “stuff in my system”, and am already bored with my luke-warm liquid diet, but more than anything else I miss my Mother. I needed to cry on her shoulder after I heard what a waste of bloody time and money it was to get those braces.
I end with more love – the theme of this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Love.
The photo below of our dog Jelly lying in the warm spot under our stove with Honey Bun our cat, was taken about forty years ago, and has sat on our fridge for almost as long. (Because I don’t have the negative I had to copy the photo with my camera…)
Have you ever had orthodontic treatment, or gum surgery?
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PostScript on January 31:
My blogging buddy Tara – who blogs in China at The Good Villager – has awarded me a special Girl Guide badge. I’m so proud