Monday, January 11, 2016

On the Outside

Ever since my adult teeth came in, around third grade, I've been hiding my smile. I've always had extremely sensitive teeth.  I've been ordering drinks without ice since I was a little kid.  I can't chew sugary gum.  I can't chew hot food on the left side of my mouth.  I don't even remember a time when eating and drinking wasn't an inconvenience.  
But as a growing young girl, you can imagine how hard it was to not be able smile without feeling self conscious.  And every picture I took looked like this:

So one day, I was sitting at my unit twiddling my thumbs.  I was finished with my work for the day, so I started calling dentists.  I asked for some quotes. I crunched some numbers.  In case you were wondering it is not cheap to completely remodel your mouth.  After several calls, I ultimately went with one that allowed my insurance and had a fair price for veneers.  Oh and availability for an appointment right away.  I don't think I have ever been so excited to schedule a dental appointment. 

At my consultation, they looked at my teeth.  They asked me about my expectations, and they ultimately told me what they thought I needed in their professional opinions.  I sat in the chair and I told them my story.  I explained how I was afraid to go on dates, as I was recently single, and how I didn't want to smile in photos (especially ones I thought I could be displayed).  And how I wanted to be an elementary school teacher who wasn't reminded about her teeth by a different student every day.  Because that is what I saw in my future. 

I left the dentist with an appointment to get my gums lasered.  I took this photo that day in the car before I walked into the office.

Friends, if you can avoid having your gums set on fire with a little laser, please do.  It's a terribly painful procedure.  It was horrible while it was actually happening, but I'm so sensitive I started to feel the pain really quickly.  Afterward it hurt for several weeks.  And it was not cute.  

Luckily, my next appointment was only a few weeks away.  I healed up and they put in my temps.  I got them a just before halloween.

They look pretty good here but they weren't fun.  They were really white, but they were all one piece (no flossing), had a plastery type texture, and they irritated my gums.  They were swollen almost the whole time I had in the temps.  It was worth the wait though.  The veneers they would put in a few weeks later were custom selected to fit my mouth with the shape and size chosen by the dentist and myself from a catalogue.

They put these in a few weeks later and I cried when I saw them.  My face was all puffy and my gums still irritated from the...installation?  Of my permanent veneers, but I was so happy I honestly didn't have words. 

And I have never felt so confident. A lot of people told me "oh, Katie, I never even noticed your teeth before!"  or "You're beautiful with or without your new teeth."  Well that is very sweet of them to say.  But this was not about being beautiful.  It really wasn't even about anyone else. It was about me.  It was about looking in the mirror and being proud of what I see smiling back at me.  It was about leaving my house and feeing confident.  And it was about never again having the thought "I would look so great if it wasn't for my smile".  And how that makes me feel is more important than any compliment or rude comment that has ever been directed at me.  But hey, keep the compliments coming.  These babies are expensive.  


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