My Tongue : Breaking News

posted in: Sicky 27
It’s nice when they’re all in a row and not poking. Image: Wikipedia.



My tongue hurts.

Not the whole thing. It’s the righthand side. The righthand side of my tongue hurts a lot.

The reason it hurts is because there is a sharp, thin wire in my mouth that has broken away from where it ought to be and every time my soft, wet tongue moves in my mouth, it scrapes against this sharp, tiny wire. Over and over and over, when I say words, or eat, or just swallow, this wire stabs or scrapes my tongue. This started on Friday afternoon and now it is Sunday night.

I never told you that I got braces.

Well, I got half-braces. I got brackets/braces on my bottom front teeth because a) it was what I could afford and b) … Well, I’ll tell you later because it’s a good story. Anyway, I got six brackets and a wire on the inside of my bottom row of teeth and this situation is called “sublingual” braces.

I’m trying to be a trooper, but so far, my sublingual braces have not been fun.

This is the fourth time I have had a crisis (relatively speaking) with my sublingual braces. Twice, a bracket has popped off my tooth and I’ve had to go in and get it repaired. And twice now, the resin they melt onto the end wire (so that the wire can’t poke my tongue) has broken off, which is bad. I’m really, really hoping this is just the way it is with sublingual braces and that I don’t have a terrible orthodontist. I also hope I’m not the reason this is happening, but I don’t think so. I’ve been eating soft foods and being careful to take care of my sublingual situation. My caramel popcorn and hard pretzel days are over, if you will, and have been over since I got the dang things installed.

This pain in my mouth … It’s tyrannical. I can hardly think. The whole world is my mouth. My tongue specifically.

And there are people — Buddhists?? — who would say, “Mary, the pain in your mouth is an opportunity. This torture you feel, the way the whole world has shrunk and you can think of nothing but the pain in your mouth, this is a chance to really experience the moment; you can really be present because your focus is so focused on this sensation.”

What are you, nuts?!

You can have your enlightenment. I wouldn’t wish this “sensation” on anyone. My tongue is swollen. It’s been stabbed for two days, traumatized and raw. What’s more, I’m in Portland till tomorrow night, so I can’t see my ortho till Tuesday at noon. I’ve tried to stick wax on it (which has worked in the past) but the wire that broke and is poking is too close to the gum line and the wax won’t stick. I actually cried earlier tonight when, after the fifth time trying to coat the wire so that it wouldn’t poke my tongue, it slid immediately off. Again. I put my tongue down and the wire burrowed into my tongue once more. It’s starting to drive me a little bananas

We’ve all had bigger problems. But mouth pain is tough — and I am no Buddhist. Here’s hoping your tongue goes un-persecuted this night!

This Again? Considering Braces.

posted in: Day In The Life 17
Transparent brackets on a scary, scary mold of human teeth. Photo: Wikipedia.
Transparent brackets on a scary, scary mold of human teeth. Photo: Wikipedia.


A few weeks ago, I had a dentist appointment.

I put a comment in the comments section that let you know the visit was pain-free and it was, mostly. My new dentist zinged me with the spinny thing a couple times, but just when I was about to cry and rip off my paper napkin he switched to the old-fashioned scraper tool and I was okay. (The scraper doesn’t bother me for some reason.) The good news was that I didn’t have any cavities, so yay me for brushing my teeth even when I’m so tired I can’t see straight. The bad news is that I need a crown, but this was not news. I have a tooth on my lower right that is 79% filling at this point and I was actually surprised that my new dentist — who has extremely hairy arms but an excellent sense of humor — let me out the door without scheduling the appointment, but he didn’t. He said I would be okay for awhile, as long as I stop eating ice.*

The reason I’m doing an official follow-up to the dentist post is because something major happened.

I asked about braces.

Oh, I had them when I was a kid. Actually, I was a tween, but advertising executives hadn’t come up with that word for 13-year-olds back in the mid-’90s, so I think of myself as a kid back then — a kid with real messed up teeth. Man, were they crooked. Jacked-up toofs run in my family. The Fons clan has deep palates and our teeth are relatively large and excited to show up to the mouth party, so there’s a lot of crowding. Besides, you know, my family members — both on the Fons and Graham side — are just so wise, most of us have had to have all four respective wisdom teeth removed. If we didn’t, you see, we would be too wise. We would like, rule the galaxy because of our wisdom We would also have even crooked-er teeth.

So yes, I had braces as a youth and as a result, my teeth became super straight. But over the next decade or so, something happened: My lower teeth started to get all crooked again. This wasn’t something I noticed while it was happening, obviously; teeth move slowly. But a couple years ago I realized my lower incisor was starting to cock a little bit. A year after that, I saw how it had moved the tooth next to it — and the tooth next to that. Needless to day, I was steamed: Not only did I have braces in junior high, I had rubber bands, too.

From that day on, I began to notice my (crooked) teeth when I viewed episodes of Quilty or Love of Quilting. I began to be self-conscious about the way my teeth looked on camera and, more immediately pressing, how they looked in the bathroom mirror when I was flossing. I know plenty of folks vainer than I, but I’m not ashamed to say that I care about my appearance and try to keep myself looking and feeling my best. Besides, I do have a job that is public in many ways. How my teeth look — and how I feel about how my teeth look — is not an entirely trivial thing.

When I asked my dentist about all this, he said, with a reassuring nonchalance, “You should talk to an orthodontist. Sure. I see that, on the bottom. I’ll give you a referral to the two best guys. Get a quote, see what they say. It wouldn’t take too much. You’d be much happier.”

And a few days ago, I had one of the appointments. It’s so much money. But it’s my face. My teeth. You know? I give to charities. I save for retirement. I pay my taxes and I try to be generous. I’m in debt for school, but I’m paying it back as I go along. I can’t really “afford” to straighten my smile but I could figure it out. And it’s really been bugging me, how my teeth have shifted and gotten all weird. The thought that keeps coming to me is hard to admit, but I can tell you anything, so here goes:

I’ll be 40 in three years. How cool would it be to have the best smile of my life when I hit 40?

What if, you know? Just what if? They would be on the inside, by the way, if I’m willing to pay extra.

I think I’d have to try and make that work.


*[EDITOR’S NOTE: I am literally eating ice right now. It’s soft ice and I’m chewing carefully. Note to self to take iron supplement every day, not just when I remember.]