A Very Long Morning

by J.D. Roth

My brother Tony e-mailed last night. “I’m going to be in town tomorrow,” he said, “but only for a little bit. If you’re free at 8, I’ll buy you coffee.” Tony packed his family and moved to Bend nearly two years ago, so I don’t get to see him very often. I miss him. I gave him a lot of shit when he was around, but the truth is I’m proud of him. He’s a good guy.

Naturally, I wanted to have coffee with him. I wrote back:

I can’t make it at 8, but maybe after? My planned schedule is:

5:30 – Out of bed, half an hour of site maintenance

6:00 – To the gym for a quick cardio workout

7:00 – Home to shower

7:30 – Leave for dentist

8:00 – Dentist

??? – Come back home

I’m not having any work done. It’s just a consultation. I’m going to get braces. Shocking, but true.

To which Tony replied, “God bless it! Your analness always makes me laugh.”

Was I being anal? Hm. Maybe I was.

I didn’t get to have coffee with Tony. When he called at 8:45, I was strapped in the dentist’s chair. When I texted him at 9:30, I was still strapped in the dentist’s chair. In fact, I was strapped in the dentist’s chair until 11. It kind of ruined my day.

You see, I’ve decided to get braces. After years of mocking Jeff and Steph for their obsession with orthodontia, I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to have nice teeth. I’m not joking. I put a lot of thought into this, and I weighed the fact that I’ve been so anti-braces in the past. Despite this, it makes sense to get braces, so I’m going to do it.

(“Do you even need braces?” Tiff asked when she came over tonight. “Let me see your teeth.” I showed her my teeth. “Kris says they’re my worst feature,” I said. “Oh,” said Tiff, but she didn’t recoil in terror.)

So I drove down to Canby for an 8 o’clock dentist appointment. Dr. Martin explained the Invisalign process. “Your teeth are borderline,” she said. “I might be able to do them, but I might have to refer you to an orthodontist in Wilsonville. If I have to refer you, that means the process is going to take two years.”

The process this morning seemed to take two years.

After Dr. Martin had examined my teeth, the hygienist took over. She filled a mold with a putty-like material and then rammed it against my upper teeth. After holding it there for two minutes (talking to me the whole damn time — why do hygienists do this?), she pulled it out. Next she filled this putty with a liquid, set a timer for four minutes, and rammed the mold back into my mouth. While we both tried to remain very still, the liquid set into a gummy solid around my teeth. When the timer beeped, we both had to pry the mold from my mouth.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience. What makes it worse was that it wasn’t a pleasant experience four times. These impressions form the basis for the Invisalign product, so they have to be precise. The first three impressions of my upper teeth were all flawed in some way. The fourth impression was flawed too, but less so. “I think we can send that one in,” Dr. Martin said, the implication being that I might have to come back later for further impressions of that mold wasn’t good enough. Ugh. Fortunately, we were able to get the bottom teeth in one pass.

After 90 minutes of that, I had an hour of photos and x-rays. The photo session was hilarious. They hygienist — a different one this time — had a fancy Nikon digital camera with a nice flash mounted to the lens. The first four shots were easy to get. But the second four required all sorts of monkeying around.

The hygienist recruited the receptionist for help. While I held plastic lip retractors (or whatever they’re called), the receptionist positioned a mirror in my mouth and the hygienist contorted herself into strange positions in order to take the photo at the proper angle. Crazy!

Then, to cap it all off, I got a massive dose of radiation. They took 18 x-rays of my teeth, which is probably more than I’ve had before in my entire life.

Throughout this entire process, the staff kept apologizing. “It’s no problem,” I said, and I meant it. I understand that this is the sort of thing we have to go through to get me my braces. I’m willing to do it. I was just wishing I wasn’t so hungry.

I started a new fitness program this week. Here’s how it works: I roll out of bed, drink two glasses of water, go to the gym to exercise, wait an hour, then eat breakfast. Well, if you remember the schedule I e-mailed Tony, there wasn’t actually any time set aside to eat breakfast there. (If I had been smart — which I wasn’t — I would have grabbed an apple and some cheese for my drive to Canby.) So when I left the dentist at 11, I was starving.

I did, eventually, have enough to eat. And the dentist got all she needed to begin work on my braces. But I didn’t get to see Tony. Maybe next time.

Updated: 11 March 2008

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
Copyright © 1994 - 2022 by J.D. Roth