If not, lucky you!
Not thinking about your mouth is a luxury you need to start appreciating right now. Light a scented candle and write about it in your gratitude journal.
I think about my mouth all day. Everywhere I go, there it is — stealing the show, saying, “I won’t be ignored, Dan.”
This is my reality since I got Invisalgn last week.
If you’re not familiar, they’re clear braces, or “aligners.”
They’re like a plastic couch slipcover for your teeth.
The difference is, they’re hard plastic, not the kind you’d sit on. They snap on and click into place. (Taking them off is another, less satisfying story. It involves fingernails, tugging, and a lot of drool.)
Avo, my dentist — who’s also my friend, so I’ll call him my friendtist — made me get these things. He “made” me by telling me that if I didn’t, my top-front crooked tooth would keep getting more crooked until I became Nanny McPhee.
This blood-chilling diagnosis evolved into a shorthand where friendtist and my husband both refer to the tooth itself as “The McPhee,” “Laura’s McPhee” or just “McPhee.”
Vanity is my greatest motivator.
So after two years of putting it off, I plunked down a big chunk of money and bit the bullet.
Actually, I bit down on some gag-inducing putty glop in a tray. A bullet would be way more delicious.
I could go for a bullet right now.
I’m constantly hungry.
See, you can’t eat with them in. Every time you want to eat something, you have to pop out the aligners, like a grandma taking out her teeth, and put them somewhere. (I lay mine on a doubled piece of Scott 1-Ply Extra Strong toilet paper.)
And then, when you’re done eating, you have to floss, brush your teeth, and brush the aligners, because otherwise they’ll give you bad breath and get yellow.
But you can’t brush them with toothpaste. Toothpaste scratches them. You have to use antibacterial hand soap.
Which brings me to the first of 6 things I discovered since I got Invisalign.
1. There is no such thing as unscented antibacterial hand soap.
Are you listening, people at Dial? You don’t make it easy for a girl to find soap that doesn’t smell like a music festival port-a-potty. And guess what: “Spring Water,” “White Tea,” and “Gold” all smell the same. Also, since when is “Gold” a scent? Did your focus groups say they’d like to smell like metal?
2. Mindless snacking is not the worst thing.
“I bet you’ll lose so much weight,” my friend said when I told her I was getting these. “No mindless snacking.”
You know what replaces mindless snacking, though?
A worse thing: mindful gorging.
You’re supposed to keep these things in for 22 hours a day. That gives you two hours with a plastic-free mouth.
When I eat, I usually think about saving my calories for dinner. Now, I think more about saving my eating minutes. So I’m mindful to cram as much in my mouth hole as I can.
Gotta get in all the food as fast as possible, and then stay un-hungry for as long as possible.
Ever seen the Lifetime Movie “Kate’s Secret”?
It has a scene where Meredith Baxter Birney’s character, a mom with bulimia (that’s the secret), eats everything in sight while cleaning up after a party. Double fists of whipped cream, chicken, potato salad — all together in a dizzying, hand-sliming mouthful.
That’s me at lunchtime.
Standing — because sitting wastes minutes — in front of a sprawling, sad feast of items that don’t belong together. Cherry tomatoes, brie, watermelon chunks, pickles. Whatever’s around, all at once.
To complete the picture, imagine pigs-oinking sound effects and an insert of a bomb timer ticking down to zero.
3. It’s a good thing I work from home.
4. You can slow down time.
If you feel like your kids are growing up in a blink, and where’d another fucking day go, and how did summer pass you by without you taking advantage of that great fresh corn, and it’s all going too fast, I say to you: get Invisalign.
The moment Avo first helped me snap them in, the clock went into slow motion.
The day now revolves around the tight, slightly gaggy pressure in my mouth and the rituals of caring for these two plastic pieces.
I won’t dare liken it to having a baby, but I will compare to it to a high school home ec assignment where you have to “parent” a raw egg or a sack of flour for a week. It takes over, and breaks down your day into long, long minutes.
On the other hand…
5. You can get used to anything.
The end of the first day, I thought, How will I get through 160 more of these? (Avo promised 5 months to straight teeth.)
It’s been a week. Not a quick week, but I’m getting the hang of all the brushing and flossing and popping in and out of plastic.
Maybe by next week, I won’t even think about them. Time will be back to going too fast, and I’ll be complaining, “How is it 6pm already?”
NOTE: I’m not being dismissive of people with bigger things to get used to, like strapping on a prosthetic leg. But I’m pretty sure you get used to that, too.
6. Starting now is better than starting later.
How many times do I have to learn this?
When someone tells me, “Oh, I had Invisalign. So glad that’s over,” I think about how I’d be saying that now too if I’d started earlier.
I knew I was going to do it. I had the money for it. I just didn’t want to do it, or part with the money. So I waited. The waiting didn’t buy me anything except for more time to dread doing it. Just like everything else I put off in my life.
I’d like to say I’ll change from this lesson, but I won’t. S’OK.
7. Without my samples, I don’t know who I am anymore.
Scavenging for free samples of food is what gets me up in the morning and gives shape to my day.
Any time I leave the house, my eye is trained to spot every tray of cut-up muffin, every board of bread pieces with cheese on them, every batch of mini paper cups with toothpicks sticking out (the most promising sight on earth).
I still see those things. And I have to walk right by.
What am I going to do, pop my aligners out in a shadowy doorway for one bite of brioche? Freshly baked, with sugar and raisins? OK, maybe.
You don’t realize how much your daily habits define you until you have to give them up.
Saying no to free samples strips all the ambition out of my day. All the victory. All the tension of pretending I’m going to “come back later” and buy that delicious thing after tasting it.
Thimble cups of banana smoothie, sample slices of duck breast: these things were my raison d’etre. (Now I’m thinking of raisin brioche again.)
I have to reinvent myself. Find another compulsion, I mean hobby.
Maybe I’ll do drugs. Heroin won’t stain my Invisalign.
Meanwhile, this post got long. Which is good, because I’m that much closer to dinner. Almost time to pop ’em out!
Have you experienced something that slowed down time?
Have you gotten used to something you couldn’t imagine being used to?
Do you know of a good unscented liquid anti-bacterial soap? I finally found one at CVS but it smells like alcohol and sick.
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
ps – yeth, I do have a thlight lithp.