Sunday, March 28, 2010

Retaining the Retainer

re-tain-er [re-tey-ner] noun
1. a person or thing that retains.
2 .a servant or attendant who has served a family for many years.
3. Also called cage, separator. Machinery. a ring separating, and moving with, balls or rollers in a bearing.
4. Orthodontics.
a. a fixed or removable device worn in the mouth to hold the teeth in their new position during the adaptive period after straightening appliances have been removed.
b. Prosthodontics. a part on a bridge or the like by which the bridge is attached to the natural teeth.

Twelve years ago this month I received what every 17 year old who is about to graduate from high school and go on to college wants: braces. Despite my perfectly straight teeth, at a routine cleaning it was decided that those baby teeth I continued to hold onto had to go. And, in order to make room for the adult teeth they were going to have to pull down, I need to have braces attached to my teeth. Excuse me? Braces? At seventeen? No thank you! Its not like I hadn't had these baby teeth for years and years. Where was this decision when I was 13 and everyone had braces?

So for the last few months of my senior year of high school and then through the first two years of college I wore braces. So hear I am in college, 17 years old, looking 15 at best, and I have braces. Is anyone shocked that the boys didn't come in flocks? Do you know how difficult it is to say "Plautz" with braces on? I wore braces for two year. In March of 2000, 10 years ago this month, the braces came off and I received a retainer. The doctor told me to wear it everyday, all day (except meal times) for something like six months. Did he seriously think that was going to happen?

I tried wearing the retainer for about two days and decided that it wasn't working for me. I finally was free of the mandatory metal mouth and I wasn't going back. Well at least during the day. I dutifully wore my retainer every night, and I have continued to wear it most every night for the last 10 years. Now I'm trying to decide if I should keep wearing it. Has ten years been long enough? Should I give it five more years? Should I have a new retainer made? Should I have it plated in 14kt gold and made into a keepsake pendant for only $300? Decisions, decisions.