Brace Yourself

It was a Saturday afternoon in October 1980, when I went for a bike ride with two of the neighborhood girls my age. I think they were trying to ‘lose me’ and I was trying to catch up so I was pedaling as fast as I could, when my front bike tire hit a patch of dense sand in the road. The wheel turned sideways causing the bike to stop abruptly, but because of a little thing called inertia, I kept going. Flying over the handle bars and landing face first into the gravel on my street.

When I lifted my head up I saw a circle of multiple shoes surrounding me. I remembered seeing briefly before the crash, a group of Boy Scouts having a meeting in the front yard of the house where I landed. A couple boys helped me up and I saw my friends riding back to see what happened. Of course, I was a bloody, crying mess.

The troop leader instructed a couple boys to walk my bike and me ‘home’. My friend Dee’s house was the closest and she said her mom could take me home. All five of us walked to her house. Her mom took one horrified look at me and ran to get her car keys. I remember something like a small pebble in my mouth and I spit it out.

My face, my teeth, my hands, and knees hurt and stung with pain from the fall. We drove up the hill to my house and my oldest sister, Rebecca was the first to see me. She rushed me to our parents’ bedroom where our mother was trying to take a much-needed nap. No rest for the weary. Sorry, Mom.

In the bathroom, I sat on the toilet as my mom applied first aid. I saw myself in the mirror. I had a deep scrape across my forehead, one above my right eyebrow, and one under my right eye. There was a gash in my upper lip and a scrape on my chin. But what hurt the worst was my left front tooth, which was broken.

At dinner that night I had to drink out of a straw and try to eat on one side of my mouth. It was Saturday night and I could not go to the dentist until Monday morning. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt. And then it hurt some more.

Monday morning at the dentist, he asked if I had the piece of tooth that had broken off. He could have pieced it back together if I had, but what ten-year-old would know that? I remembered the ‘pebble’ I spit out in my friend’s yard. That must have been my tooth. C’est la vie, old friend.

The dentist bonded a piece to the corner of my broken tooth and told us when I was fifteen I would need to come back and get it replaced and I would also, since we were talking about my mouth, need to get braces. I think I got the bonding re-done, but never got braces due to lack of funds.

I never forgot about the need for braces; my jaw was always clicking and popping. When I was thirty-three I worked for an orthodontist. He looked at my mouth, agreeing I did need braces, but then he told me he would have to break my jaw in order for braces to work on me. I had no idea what that really meant, but he was the professional, so I never questioned him. And since my friend Kevin had a broken jaw in high school from a car accident and had to have his mouth wired shut, there was no way in hell I was breaking my jaw on purpose. I never thought about it again. I guess I would be stuck with an uneven mouth forever.

Last summer, my dentist asked me if I ever considered getting braces. “Do you ever think about closing the gap between your two front teeth?” YES!! ALL the time!! I did/do NOT like that gap. But I mentioned that I was told my jaw would have to be broken in order to get braces and that I would only be able to get the metal kind, not Invisalign. He looked at me and said that orthodontist didn’t know what he was talking about. I would not need to have my jaw broken. So, two months ago I went to a new (smarter) orthodontist for a consultation.

I was told that not only could I get braces without breaking my jaw, but I could get Invisalign! In December after decades of waiting, I will finally get my braces.

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