Ish kine off har ta ash queshons wif dis sing in ma mouf.

Ish kine off har ta ash queshons wif dis sing in ma mouf.

When faced, quite literally, with a major decision that would affect the quality of her life and, well, her face for at least a year, Lorna had some questions she needed answers to.

Sitting in the dentist’s chair (I guess that would be the patient’s chair) with my mouth agape (nothing unusual in that setting) at the news that I needed braces to fix my catastrophomouth, I had some questions.

Well, the questions came after I stopped hyperventilating and could focus on something other than my grandmother’s dentures bathing in a glass beside her bed. I don’t ever want my teeth greeting me when I wake up. I don’t care if they’re smiling.

Time to get up, Sunshine!

Time to get up, Sunshine!

Competing for importance in my newly cleared, but still dizzy, head were three major concerns (listed here in no particular order):

1. How much will braces hurt my already highly sensitive mouth?

2. How much will braces hurt my already highly sensitive bank account?

3. How ugly will braces make me for how long?

I wasn’t concerned about exactly how the braces worked, how they went on, how my dental hygiene might be affected with all that jagged metal in my mouth, or kissing. I could Google those details later. Or not.

Typical of all medical professionals, politicians, and hedge fund managers, ask a direct question and get an answer as slippery as a Jello Shooter.

Not in your mother's or grandmother's Jello recipe book, but they sure are popular. And slippery.

Not in your mother’s or grandmother’s Jello recipe book, but they sure are popular. And slippery.

Not wanting to sound tacky or insensitive, I asked the money question first. I prefaced it with my concern that I was retired due to a disability and was on a fixed income. Pity points are still points when you’re talking money, People.

“How much is this going to cost me?”

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“I have to take some special x-rays, create a mold of your mouth, and need several photographs. After I see what we’re dealing with, I can give you a firm price.”

After I heard “special x-rays” the rest of what she said was dulled out by a distinct cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching sound.

“Can you give me a ball park number?” I needed something to go on.

She wrinkled her nose behind her mask, tipped her head to the right and said, “No more than $2,500 for the upper teeth.” She quickly added, “And your bottom teeth look fine.”

“That’s good.”

My next question was about how painful braces are.

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“On your individual sensitivity, on how much we need to move your teeth, on the kinds of foods you eat. There are so many factors. I’ve had braces twice. When they are initially put on and when they are adjusted each month, they’re pretty uncomfortable for a few days, but ibuprofen works great. After that, you get used to them and won’t even know that they’re there.”

Once I heard “individual sensitivity,” my heart beat increased in volume from barely noticeable to the thruuump, thruuump, thruump of one of those ginormous bass drums that the nerdy, but proud, kid plays in the marching band.

Can you get more nerdy?

Can you get more nerdy?

I had a feeling that, being a Highly Sensitive Person, braces would rise to the level of more than uncomfortable on the Mr. Sad Face Scale used in most emergency rooms.

I have a feeling that orange is my new look.

I have a feeling that orange is my new look.

Finally, I got to the vanity question.

“I don’t recommend the clear braces for adults. They are significantly more expensive and the results are disappointing. Metal braces simply work better for adult teeth that are harder to move.”

I'm getting it. Deflect attention away from the braces. Be so outrageous that braces are the least of your worries.

I’m getting it. Deflect attention away from the braces. Be so outrageous that braces are the least of your worries.

“Um. Okay. How long will I have to wear them.”

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“On how quickly you teeth respond to the adjustments. I would estimate about a year. Maybe a little more given how much it looks like some of your teeth have to move back to be in alignment. I’ll know more after I see the x-rays, cast and pictures.”

“I see.” I didn’t, but it seemed like the adult thing to say.

“Do you have any more questions?”

I did. “I’m going to be 56 years old. Am I too old for braces?” It was a silly question. It was the equivalent of asking a car dealer if you need a new car or a cosmetic surgeon if you need Botox.

“Of course not! Roughly half of my ortho patients are adults. Everyone wants to have a beautiful smile, no matter what their age. I just put braces on a man who was in his late 60s.”

“Half, huh? That surprises me.”

“Just start looking around. You’ll notice a lot of adults with braces. You’ll see them if you’re looking for them.”

So it's kind of like when you buy a pimptacular sporty white car and. like, everyone seems to have one just like yours?

So it’s kind of like when you buy a pimptacular sporty white car and. like, everyone seems to have one just like yours?

So I started looking at people’s mouths.

Stay tuned to find out what I discovered about my adult braces and how staring at peoples’ mouths is not socially appropriate behavior even if your dentist tells you to do it.

Stop calling me. I know! I know! I should never have asked everyone to say "cheese!" at your husband's funeral.

Stop calling me. I know! I know! I should never have asked everyone to smile and say “cheese!” at your husband’s funeral.