Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lighting Up a Room Without Metal

I got my date!
Last month I waltzed into my orthodontist's office and told the very cute and youthful Dr. Lenk: "I want a date."

He flashed his gorgeous smile and replied, "I think you're being a bit forward and I'm not sure how to respond."

"Surrender," I warned.

He seemed surprised but directed his assistant to remove the long piece of metal corralling my teeth and walked me over to the Magic Mirror. "Are you happy with what you see?" he asked.

I peered intently into the MM and replied, "I'd like to look 20 years younger, if that's what you're asking."

This seemed to exasperate even the normally affable Dr. Lenk. "No, I'm asking about your teeth."

"Hmmm... well, I'd like to have this a little straighter," I said, pointing toward part of my month.

His smile froze. "I can't fix your entire bite, you know." (Fortunately he didn't add anything about needing a miracle.)

"OK, then otherwise I'm happy. Take 'em off."  

The man who from the first has considered me and my teeth a challenge displayed no reaction. "They can come off in two weeks, but then you'll have to wear this clear plastic retainer, 24-7, for the next three months."

"What? You never said anything about three months!" I replied, now recalling the "they lie" warning from a fellow adult braces survivor despite my protests that my Dr. Lenk would never do that.
"But if you'll agree to wear them one more month, you'll only have to wear the retainer one month of 24-7," he continued. "It's up to you." 

“Did you ever sell used cars? Because this feels like a bait-and-switch," I squawked, trying to keep my voice low so as not to frighten any adolescents in nearby chairs. His assistant smiled and said, "See, he's more than just a pretty face."

He laughed and sent me back into the world with my full-metal mouth, enhanced by an ugly plastic “power chain” apparatus designed to close any gaps but, because it stains so easily, also indicates how much coffee and red wine I consume.
So you can understand why I was a bit nervous that I might be conned again at this month's appointment. Fortunately, repeated inquiries of “aren’t you excited?” from his wonderful staff indicated this was the moment I'd waiting for since last April.  

Although I have deluded myself into thinking that it really didn’t take much longer than Dr. Lenk's original prediction of gorgeous teeth in just eight months, in reality I persevered through 11 months of no apples, popcorn or sticky candy because of my less-than-cooperative teeth. I shouldn't have been surprised. Early on, Dr. Lenk told me, "I like you -- you're a challenge." And I'm not even the oldest of his adult patients, who comprise about one-fifth of his practice.

That truth about me being a challenge aside, the braces experience was much less difficult than I anticipated, although it has not been without some inconvenience and discomfort. I've suffered pieces of metal occasionally gouging the inside of my mouth (hurray for braces wax!), brushed my teeth after every meal to dislodge debris, spent almost 20 minutes nightly trying to thread floss through the metal and endured people staring at my mouth or saying “You’re wearing braces” as if I didn’t realize it. 

So when the braces came off last Wednesday and I was handed my clear plastic retainer, I was ecstatic. I'm certain I was grinning from ear-to-ear when I returned to work.

But only one co-worker noticed that I no longer lit up a room with the metal on my teeth. 

This dismayed me considerably. Although I was originally sold on the idea of braces after Dr. Lenk commented I had a youthful smile because I show so much teeth, apparently most people don’t look at them as closely as I do.

Then I recalled a similar lack of awareness when I first got contacts and decided it didn't matter because I'm happy with the results, knowing that I can light up the room just with my smile now.

Can you see a difference? (But please no comments on how much older I look or that perhaps my hair color might be, um, slightly enhanced.) 


Anonymous said...

You look great!! Glad to see you're back to blogging! Lisa VW

Rhonda Lane said...

Your smile turned out gorgeous, Pat. Good on you for enduring the hardware.

Pat Remick said...

Thanks! I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Robin Hagey said...

You look fabulous, dahlink! So glad your back to blogging!

Anonymous said...

You look great! It's lovely to see you back online. (and hello to Lisa VW, who I don't think I've seen in years - it seems like another lifetime since I met you guys at Claire's birthday party)