Many of you have never seen me. Many more haven’t seen me since March.
So, you may not know or have forgotten that I have braces.
Yup! My 50-year-old chompers are bracketed, wired, and alasticized, making my mouth more closely resemble a 14-year-old’s than an adult’s. It’s fun!
Well, choosing the colors of the elastics (tiny rubber bands that hold the wire in place) is fun. The rest is a slow, careful, sometimes painful, and, likely, long process that is not so much fun as it is necessary, at least in my case.
Having just visited the orthodontist, I realized there is a flaw how we describe certain difficult problems. We say a situation is like pulling teeth. It isn’t, whatever it is.
Loose baby teeth are very easy to pull out, discomfort is short-lived, and the recovery is quick. Extracting 4 badly impacted wisdom teeth is a bigger challenge for the oral surgeon and may require a twilight sleep for the patient. Recovery takes a little longer, and temperature sensitivity can linger for a few weeks. Still, the process and convalescence are relatively fast — days to weeks.
Moving teeth, however, can take years. Moving teeth causes recurrent bouts of pain and sensitivity. Moving teeth forces changes to eating habits. Moving teeth happens on the teeth’s timing, as they slowly respond to human intervention and appropriately used tools and applied wires and elastics.
Moving teeth requires patience, diligence, and care.
Moving teeth is very much like befriending fearful felines (minus rubber bands and metal; plus claws and fur; lots of teeth either way).
For those who know Samantha and newbie Miranda, you know that fearful felines are often friendly, welcoming a slow approach and lots of love. Other fearful felines like Clarence need far more encouragement, patience, and time to warm to our clumsy, well-intentioned advances.
There are still other fearful felines who will never become the warm, fuzzy types, despite the most fervent, careful human efforts, even despite their very own warm fuzziness: 100% pure physical; 0% personality.
These special kitties defy our every attempt to befriend. Some true outdoor cats, like Candy, Toffee, and Cherry, are best, albeit dishearteningly, left to their own devices, sort of. Tabby’s Place adoptions to barns are a boon to them and to the human community (certain rodents and other critters, not so much).
However you look at it, there are enormous challenges with socializing fearfuls into friendlies and knowing when to stop trying with other fearfuls for their benefit and comfort, or knowing when not to go down that rabbit hoke at all. It is never easy.
There’s just so much more to it than only pulling teeth.