Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tinsel Town

Next stop: Tinsel Town

I'm going to miss her crooked smile.

At least, I think I will.

I say 'I think' I'll miss it, because I'm not sure I've seen my daughter wear the expression enough lately to have it implant on the part of my brain that might withstand the coming of age and infirmity. What I know for sure is how much I'll miss the six thousand dollars it will cost to wipe that ever-so-fleeting grin off her face.

But that's genetics for you -- the need for braces doesn't skip a generation just because you want it to … unless you choose Invisalign (or in her father's case, do-it-yourself dental adhesive and rubber bands, which modern dentists tend to frown upon).

Ah, necessity! The mother of all invention.

Which is why I had made myself an appointment with the orthodontist -- without the kid -- to be thoroughly convinced this money for corrective dental work wouldn't be better invested elsewhere. Say ... a nice bridge somewhere warm ... or an island time-share of my dreams. Or college.

Honestly, her smile doesn't seem that crooked to me. Her teeth are straight enough. There's enough room between each nicely-sized pearly white but not too much. Nothing overlaps.

Of course, I would be a tough sell. After all, I had already sold myself on the notion that with a little watchful waiting, not to mention the use of expanders and extractions, braces might not be a forgone conclusion.

But I laughed a little -- that nervous, forced laugh one has at sudden surprise -- when her mug flashed up on the orthodontist's monitor during our pre-installation parent consultation.

"See there," the doctor said, pointing the tip of his pen at the screen. "The reason you can't see her teeth when she smiles ...

His voice didn't trail off. He finished his thoughts with the same quick, articulate efficiency he started with, but I can't tell you how he explained the whys and what-have-yous of her appearance. It was all a blur, as my mind started to coil around this astounding new observation: In the TWELVE YEARS that I have been a full-time Mom (and part-time Tooth Fairy), I had not managed to notice how her teeth are barely visible when she smiles.

Honestly, I tried to keep up as the doctor moved on, thoroughly explaining the scans of her mouth and each potential realignment. So many tiny flaws I'd never seen. How the space between her two top front teeth didn't line up with the space between her two lower front teeth? Missed it. He showed the degrees of asymmetry with a confident precision, using terms such as overbite, cross-bite and dilacerated roots.

"Di-what-erated roots?"

"It's just a small curvature of the roots ...Nothing to worry about, though it could be a treatment limitation. It might not allow for perfect alignment."

Who needs perfect? Definitely not me. I wouldn't notice Perfect if it bit me in the face with its crowded teeth.

Spread before me was a transcript of everything he was saying in plain English, so I could relax.

Still, I was marooned on a fog-socked island of thoughts, shipwrecked; it seemed, once more by realizations that all these things about her smile, hidden behind closed lips, had eluded me.

I have to admit feeling a little relief as the slide show continued and he explained all the good that would come as a result of tinseled teeth.

One of the most important changes would be that we'd finally be able to SEE her smile.

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