The process has begun. I'm having the braces on my top teeth installed next week. But before I can do that, four of my teeth needed to go.
So to the dentist I went yesterday. These men and women are hard to please.
"So I guess you don't floss much," he said while sticking various Hostel: Part V: The Cranston Vacation objects at my poor teeth. Actually, I floss every day, sometimes twice a day. "You need to do a better job."
"Do you smoke? I see some stains." They're coffee stains, I couldn't say. It's not like my teeth are black and rotting, for crying out loud.
"I see you've become addicted to crystal meth."
"Do you eat hamburgers, where instead of the burger, you're eating a patty of chewing tobacco?"
"Have you set your teeth on fire recently?"
I believe I take decent care of the chompers. I only need these braces due to issues dating back to childhood. Since high school, I've been a fairly conscientious brusher and flosser. I won't be in any Colgate ads, but I don't look like a toothless thug in a 1930's gangster movie.
Except for now.
If I smile widely, you will see four hideous gaps where my first molars should be. It hasn't been painful, but I don't care how much Novocaine they stick in your gums, seeing a scary metal clamp approaching your mouth and sensing and hearing the tooth pried out is not a pleasant experience.
They showed me my four detached teeth and I felt sorry for them. It's true. They didn't deserve this fate. They were a part of me and are now gone for future dentists to study and mock.
"Was this guy a meth-addicted arsenic swallower or what?"
I'm OK if I don't smile like a buffoon and if I only laugh modestly. No one seemed to notice at work today. But in the mirror I can cackle like a superhero villain and give myself nightmare. It's pretty bad. I look like Joe Pesci from Home Alone, except for the gold teeth imagine nothing but blackened gums.
And if you want to know what it's like in my mouth right now (and why wouldn't you?), gargle your own blood every few hours.
So why the hell am I doing this? I've asked myself this question often. I hope an angel can someday take me on a tour in 20 years of what would have happened if I did not fix my orthodontic issues. I'd have dentures at 40. I wouldn't be a world-famous Crest commercial actor. That way, all this annoyance, inconvenience and money (lots and lots of money) will be proven worthwhile.
That's all I have for now.
And I am making a vow. After this whole process is complete, I am done with dental procedures. I've spent an obscene amount of money fixing things the past three years and that will only increase over the next two.
Barring anything but intense pain, I am putting my foot down. I promised myself when I was a little boy I would never touch a cigarette, joint, cigar or any other smoking instrument. I never did. I made that vow for my health.
So I make this vow today for my social well-being (whatever is left of it) and for my wallet (whatever is left of it). The vast dental conspiracy that has convinced me I've needed tissue grafts, bone grafts, extractions and braces will go unheeded from here on out.
The foot is down ... starting in 2013.