You know that sense of déjà vu you sometimes get? It might be the scent of aftershave that wafts through your nostril and emanates through your very core, reminding you of some intangible memory from your past. Or it might be the dentist ramming a hunk of cold putty into your gob to make your new retainer mould.
So I went to the orthodontist today for the first time in seven years. As any ex-BraceFace will understand, this clinic is filled with an array of emotions. Fear of the gum needle. Pain that accompanies the tightening of the brace. Insecurity that restricts you from smiling like a member of the human species in any given photo.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a phobia of the dentist. In fact, I love it. I love the smell and the cleanliness and even the taste of that pink rinsing liquid. What I did have a phobia of was my crooked mouth. And for nearly three years after that, my metal mouth. And for at least six months after that, my alien-like slippery teeth that Mama Bear assured me were lovely. (The sisterly reaction was not so kind: ‘Ohmigod….Eeeeuuugghhhh!’ followed by a fit of the giggles.)
But I digress. This is in the past. I was merely returning to the orthodontist for one of those sexy invisible behind-your-teeth braces that eliminate the need for a nightly retainer. Your spouse may say they don’t mind, but the sight of you wrenching that cold plastic from your drooling gums every morning doesn’t exactly channel Scarlett Johansson. More Sloth from the Goonies.
Anyway, Doctor Pearly Whites tells me he’d like to straighten up my bottom row before fitting me for sexy brace. No problem. I relax as he buffers away, trying in vain to keep my tongue away from his finger. And then I glimpse my reflection in one of his sparkling metal instruments of destruction. What’s that…is that…is that a TRAIN TRACK I SEE?! How do I tell the dentist that he is performing the wrong procedure when my mouth is propped open with a plastic shield? I wanted the SEXY BRACE! Not the man repellent! The medieval ugly brackets wink back at me and I realise what the Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors meant when he said he wanted to ‘straighten things up.’ I should have known. This is the same man who prolonged my torture month in, month out when I was 15. ‘Nah, we’ll leave them on another while. You don’t mind being hideous for another few months? Good girl.’
So alas, I did not get my sexy brace. Instead, I got a searing stab of insecurity dating back to my teenage years. But it’s OK. It’s not like I had already sidestepped the landmine of filling out ‘Occupation’ on the patient form. It’s not like I am learning to drive slower than any 17-year old out there. It’s not like I’m considering asking for my job I had in Transition Year back. No, I am a grown-up.
On the plus side, I look like Madonna that time she got grills. And if Madonna teaches us anything, it is that we can be whatever the hell age we want.