I have crooked teeth. They’ve been slightly crooked for years—I never received orthodontia as a kid, and my teeth were straight enough then to avoid picket fencing and headgear and palate keys and all the other hellish shit my sister had to endure. She got the business while I sat in the waiting room for hours reading Archie comics as they jabbed hot pokers at her face behind the partition. I’d say I won that particular battle. Mom says they couldn’t follow up on me because they had other bills to pay, and I don’t fault them. Thirty years later, insurance still barely covers any of this shit, and it’s expensive.
As I’ve gotten older my teeth have gotten more summer—summer here, summer there—to the point where my lower incisors are pointed backwards and overlapping each other, like a fence about to fall down. My molars have all turned inward, and my top incisors have slowly followed the lower ones in alignment. My whole palate has shrunk, actually. I’ve always been self-conscious about my teeth, but having a teenage daughter who needed braces put any notion of self-care on the back burner until those bills got paid. Finn’s still got the braces, but the monthly payments are behind us so I figured I’d finally step up and get my shit fixed.
I talked to her orthodontist about Invisalign and he set up an appointment to have my mouth scanned, after which he showed me terrifying 3D models of my face and assured me we could straighten things out. That was three weeks ago. Today I went in and they attached small plastic nubs to my teeth with some stinky glue, and then popped a pair of clear plastic trays over top of it all. I left with a box of thirty new trays and the maddening urge to peel at the plastic off with my tongue.
All afternoon I’ve been trying to stop myself from futzing with them, and I’m losing. I can feel the pull of the trays pretty much across my whole palate, but the strongest right now is my right upper canine area, which feels like someone’s pushing on my face from the outside. Taking them out to eat is worse—I can feel all the nubs sticking out on my teeth, like barnacles on a tramp steamer.
Yeah, I signed up (and paid for) something like seventy weeks of this shit. If I don’t tear the skin off my own face by the Fourth of July, it’ll be a miracle.