As a child, my baby teeth fell out as expected but instead of nice, Chiclet shaped adult teeth growing into a movie star smile, the teeth that grew in were… less than beautiful. In actuality, I had a bunch of crooked, gapped teeth that didn’t quite fit in my mouth. An eighteen-wheeler could have driven between my front teeth. Because of this horrific situation, I was sent to the orthodontist for some work. They did everything from expanding my skull to make room for all my teeth and tongue to fit in my mouth at the same time- I’m very happy that my tongue doesn’t hang out of my mouth like a dog’s- to the traditional braces and retainers. This went on for six years. Yes, six years of my life were spent with some type of orthodontic apparatus glued to my teeth. These six years spanned the 3rd to 8th grades.
Because I spent six years of my life with braces, I’ve grown to value dental hygiene and health. I brush and use mouthwash everyday and even floss sometimes. That's right, floss. This devotion to dental hygiene is based in fear. I’m terrified that by not brushing my teeth, they will rot and fall out of my face and I would look like a white trash hillbilly. Not even my Colbert sweater could make up for a missing tooth and it’s the most pretentious piece of clothing I own.
Because I’m in control of my dental hygiene, it is the lesser of this two-part fear. More importantly, I’m afraid of breaking or knocking out a tooth- or, Chicken forbid, teeth. Playing soccer for 12 years, I took my fair share of hits to the face, and the fear was nearly crippling. Cycling, I fear that I’ll break teeth in a crash and it’s usually the first thing I check when I hit the ground. Again, this is mainly because I don’t want to look like a hillbilly.
You’re probably thinking to yourself “This Greta sure is vain.” Well, maybe I am, but I really, really care about my teeth. Part of this fear is the part where the teeth actually break. While I’m sure this is quite painful, it’s a minimal component of my fear. Mainly, I’m terrified of the aftermath. Having broken/missing teeth and holes in my smile is not something I want to experience. I’m far too young for dentures or caps, and putting my teeth in a jar at night is simply not an option. Given the choice however, I would choose a fake tooth over a dead, grey tooth still attached.
I’d really hate for my six years of orthodontic torture to go to waste because of a silly thing like a bike crash, or tooth rot. My parents made quite the financial investment in this smile of mine, and I invested hours of stress and dental pain- a far greater cost than any amount of money if you ask me- and it just doesn’t seem right to have to fix it again. Because losing my teeth is a constant threat, it only adds to my fear which I worry it may have reached an irrational level. I will continue to live in constant fear of losing my teeth, but I assure you, I’m doing everything in my power keep all of them intact.