October is not only known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Dental Hygiene Month. To some of you, that may not mean anything in particular — but to me, dental hygiene has taken on a whole new meaning, evoking a lot of determination in the past 11 years of my life.
I have always had trouble with my teeth. When I was young, one of my front baby teeth never came in and almost all of my teeth were crooked and were in places they did not belong. My mom had always wanted me to have the perfect smile that most strive for and so I was sent to my first orthodontist appointment at the age of 11.
One of the first things my orthodontist said to me when I met him was, “This is going to take a lot of hard work.”
I did not know then that by hard work he meant more than a decade’s worth.
In the beginning process, I had to get six teeth pulled out before I was even able to have braces put on. For some unknown reason I decided to have this done one week before Thanksgiving. I was excited about having braces at a young age and I wanted them on as soon as possible.
But after about a month, a week or so before Christmas, I went through what most go through when first getting braces. The nasty taste of metal in your month, the newfound pain of headaches from your teeth moving to places they have never been before and the intensive brushing ritual that I have perfected over the years. But for some reason, that was not enough to make the process shorter.
I was never late to my appointments and I did all that I was instructed to do. I was content until I started noticing that my other friends from school were getting their braces off within two years or less.
I went through multiple surgeries where I had to have teeth brought down from my gums because they were not moving quickly enough and transparent teeth (teeth switched in position) on the bottom and yet I still, after more than half of my life, am going through the process of getting all the gaps in my teeth taken care of.
After 10 years with the same orthodontist, he suddenly quit.
I was not only enraged, but also let down. I now have a new orthodontist who seems knowledgeable and more than willing to have me as a patient.
A lot of people I know question me on what I will get out of this experience besides a perfect smile. My answer is that I have acquired a newfound determination to question everything and make sure I am getting the best for myself.
One thing I do want to know after all of this though — is 11 years of patience considered to be a virtue?