A Dental Resolution

Everyone has had new year’s resolutions, and most of us have had years come and go without ever following through on those resolutions. What would it look like to actually follow through on one of those resolutions?

Although nobody ever said anything about it, whenever I looked at my crooked teeth in the mirror the idea of straight, pearly whites always crossed my mind. Every year the resolution was the same: fix those teeth no matter what. Many years passed, and just as many excuses went with those years. Not enough money, no insurance, money better spent elsewhere, too late in life-you name it, and the excuse had been used. This year would be different though. Whether it was an accumulation of determination over the years or something else is still being investigated, but this was the year that at least, the process would begin.

With the help of insurance from work, insurance that had sat dormant for years, little by little I made dental appointments and got the crowns, fillings, and anything else I needed to prepare my teeth for what would be mandatory if I truly wanted those straight, pearly whites: braces. Adult braces are no longer that unusual, however, some people wait longer than others. It didn’t matter. The process had started, and if gray hair and braces would be my look for the next few years, then so be it.

Before anything like braces could be considered, I had to see an orthodontist to find out if it were even possible. After all, not everyone is a candidate for braces. At the same time, I felt that anything less was unacceptable. I had started the process, and nothing was going to derail it. The doctor did throw a little roadblock in the way though. Three teeth needed to come out to make room for the straightening process. Pulling one tooth was bad enough, so three sounded very bad. One in the lower front, One of the canine teeth, which would be replaced with one of the other teeth, and one wisdom tooth, the last of the four. My regular dentist couldn’t do the job. I had to see a surgeon.

The stories I heard about what was about to happen were quite alarming. Severe pain, infection, dry socket nausea-you name it, and the supporters around me had all told me their horror stories regarding dental surgery. Well, this was my own story, and again-nothing was going to stop the process. I made the appointment with the surgeon, ready for anything. What was going to happen is they were going to give me the gas and I would wake up three teeth lighter. The day came, and I settled into the chair, blocking out the horror stories I had heard. This was my story. They put the I.V. in my arm, in after a few minutes, the nurse said, “Okay, we’re just going to give some oxygen here and-” That was it. The next words I heard were “Okay, we’re done!” That was it. No pain, and not even the concept of time passing. Just a mouthful of gauze and wheelchair ride to the door.

The recovery was nothing. Didn’t even need the Vicodin they prescribed. The surgery was about as pleasant as dental surgery could be. I was emboldened. Now it was time to take the next step and go back to the orthodontist for the next phase. Determination had morphed into excitement. Not only were my teeth going to look great, something just as exciting was happening: a goal was being achieved.

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