After a 6 year sabbatical, I decided to stop by the dentist. And by dentist, I mean the free services UCLA Dental School provides for people who don’t have insurance. Once my shy, 16 year old looking intern, Nisha, informed me that I had healthy gums and zero cavities, the following sentence actually came out of my mouth, “Cool, but do you guys make retainers? I’ve had mine for 17 years, I need a new one.” The minute I heard the words spilled out loud to the universe, coupled with the “I’m embarrassed for this person” look on Nisha’s face, I realized I might be a bit off on this one. Maybe not all 30 year olds wear their retainers to bed? Maybe. Nisha quickly informed me that they don’t, and went on to explain all kinds of things to me to me – like how my teeth stopped shifting years ago, my teeth are my teeth now, wearing the retainer certainly won’t hurt but it’s not actually doing anything for me, blah blah blah.
Me: So should I stop wearing it?
Nisha: That’s up to you, it’s more of a comfort thing at this point.
Grosssssss. I’ve never been one to think adults who sleep with stuffed animals are cute or even close to normal. Girls can get away with an old teddy bear tossed on her single dorm room bed, but beyond college, it’s a real red flag, like having tons of cats or tons of candles, or wearing socks during sex, or wearing a retainer at night. For the past 2 decades I’ve been sleeping with my very own comfort item, except instead of an ironic Cabbage Patch Kid, mine was a piece of plastic that had its very own blue case.
I thanked Nisha and went home to meditate and reflect on this epiphany. Just kidding, I watched Oprah’s Lifeclass, then I looked up information about retainers on the internet, then watched Youtube videos of parents telling their kids they ate all of their Hallloween candy (hilarious). Once I checked all that stuff of my “to- do” list, I started thinking about how it’s probably time to let go of my mouth crutch once and for all. Ew, mouth crutch. I know it’s possible there have been times in my life when I haven’t worn it- years even! Anytime I had a boyfriend, that blue case was hidden far back in my desk drawer next to my vision board. I have felt true and deep love before, and even lived with a boyfriend, but even I know there is no sexy way to wear corrective dental gear.
So this is good-bye, but before I put you back in my drawer I’d like to give you the credit you deserve.
I have perfect teeth. Thank you! People still talk about how I was robbed when Jenn Zuckerman won Best Smile in senior year. I don’t like a lot of things, but I like my smile, and so do boys. They’ve even told me so. Especially after I ask them, “What’s your favorite part of my face? Don’t say my eyes.”
Don’t worry retainer, I’m not quitting you cold turkey. I’m planning on making this retainer break up like all of my other break ups; long, painful and confusing. I know I’ll be coming back time and time again.
**Please note since this blog was written I have heard from 3 separate (albeit non dentist) sources that my teeth will shift if I stop using it, so I’m just going to keep wearing it. Well, at least until I get a boyfriend.