Mildly amused but not surprised, I read the translation of my English to German sentence for wearing braces on my teeth. Google translate offered me a funny example for “She wore braces on her teeth.” It seemed pretty straight-forward to me, but it was wildly wrong and had me wearing “Hosenträger” on my teeth. These are suspenders for holding up pants. As I laughed out loud at yet another odd translation, I recalled essays my students wrote after Thanksgiving. They obviously did not investigate further and used the first definition found in their dictionaries which I allowed them to use in class. With my serious teacher face, I would ask them if they had been hospitalized after consuming the stuffing of sofas and chairs. Or I queried further inquiring if they were cannibals since they had written they had eaten the people of the country called Turkey and not the meat of the bird called turkey. Humor is the best medicine sometimes.
But I digress. At one of my recent dental checkups, I casually mentioned my crooked bottom teeth which probably could not be straightened. I had become accustomed to being asked if I smoked. I do not. I do drink coffee which stains my teeth. To my surprise, I was told of an invisible type of braces, not suspenders, which I could wear up to 22 hours per day. No one would be the wiser. I could remove them when I ate and then put them back on. No wires, no small elastic bands which my siblings and our son endured.
Intrigued, I investigated further with an orthodontist who has many senior citizens in his practice. With an entire series of photos and x-rays of my teeth, I was provided an online link to track my progress from all different angles of my teeth. At the end of September I opted to commence the process which would take approximately 8-12 months using a special device to gently speed the process by 50%. Every five days I change to the next set provided me. My first impression of having these foreign bodies covering my teeth was that they impeded my speech. My tongue seemed to be in the way when I tried to form certain sounds. People have asked me to repeat things on the phone so I have to make a concerted effort to enunciate my words. In the office, I was told I did not have a lisp with these braces. Good. That’s all I wanted to have at my age!
A scant four months later, I am no longer aware of wearing these invisible braces which gently do the work of straightening my teeth. I love driving to the office in a swank part of the city called Franklin Square with streets of red brick. And the office itself is akin to an art museum with beautiful quilts hanging everywhere and sewn by the Dr.’s wife. An added bonus as well is the fact that he speaks German and lived in Leimen outside of Heidelberg where I studied for three years. He and the office staff are warm and welcoming and have become an extended family. Lest the reader think me maudlin, it is rare to find such a beautiful setting which might have been just an office associated with a painful process. Far from it. The entire process has been gentle and so gradual, I have hardly noticed.
When I began this odyssey, I fully expected people to take notice, but they simply have not. Think about it: do you look at another person’s teeth that closely when you talk? Probably not. When all is said and done, there will be another series of photos of the new, improved me. On the bright side, I have been able to continue my voice lessons with no problems. The only thing I can’t do as spontaneously is to eat. I carry a case to store the braces when I remove them, but in polite company, one does not usually remove one’s dental devices. And, yes, I have forgotten that I was wearing them a couple of times and wondered why my “teeth” seemed to be making an odd squishy sound as I chewed. And why did the food feel so funny I wondered? Suddenly I realized I still was wearing the braces. Stay tuned. Brace yourself for the final outcome!