My Retainer

At this point, I feel like plaque is the only thing holding my retainer together.

It’s an older retainer. Obviously. Not one of those ancient ones that you have to affix to your head, with pieces going around the back and screwing into the skull, or whatever it was they did. But a large hunk of plastic with metal bands attached, that fits over the teeth and is exceptionally obvious if you ever smile while it’s in, which of course, coupled with the braces as precursor, meant a two and a half year period of my life where all my pictures have a dopey closed-mouth smile.

I never wear my retainer while dating. Or that’s not true. I wore it while dating, but not on the nights I spent with her. Only the nights apart, which for were few and far between for the three or so months we were together. I couldn’t afford to look like a dork, because she was very attractive. The fact that she was dating me was a credit to my very occasional charm, and her heavy marijuana use.

I have a face, as they say, for radio.

I think it was after the break-up that I stopped wearing my retainer. Because if I went on another date, they would eventually have to see me with it, and that didn’t end well the first time.

It took a few months after the break-up before I put it in again. My poor teeth, by that point, were so out of alignment, moving a few nanometers a day, that it was an effort to force it in there. I had to keep wearing it every day for four months just to get it to fit in comfortably, properly, again.

It didn’t help that I never washed it, either. I would take it out and toss it in its little plastic holder until the next night, when it was dry again and I’d pop it back in. So over time, the pink plastic of the upper piece and the clear plastic of the lower piece gradually took on a uniform pale yellow colour, like Easter at a smoker’s convention.

I tried to clean it once. Just once. I put it in some denture solution, then after twenty minutes in the effervescence I took it out, pasted up my toothbrush, and scrubbed. A half hour of continued abrasion meant a few chunks came away, but a bit of plastic, a millimeter square, came too.

I knew if I did any more, it would come to pieces. The retainer was maintained only by the plaque from my poorly brushed teeth, and I needed it to keep those teeth in line.

I was relieved when the exposed pink plaqued over again. The plastic was firmly encased.

The plaque continues to build, of course. I can’t get rid of the new stuff. For want of a cleaning, disintegration, or whatever the saying is. I think it’s slowly pushing my teeth further and further out. If I still had wisdom teeth, there might eventually be room for them. As it is, I’m becoming a mandibular Rachmaninoff. I wish there were a way to use that. Does anyone need someone with an excessively large bite?

I like to picture future historians examining my retainer. Perhaps they’ll think it’s the calcified remains of some mutant homo sapiens sapiens. Clearly an herbivore, due to the lack of canines. Just one plate for mashing on things.

These future archaeologists will search in vain for the rest of the skeleton. Meanwhile, future fundamentalists will point to my retainer as evidence that evolution is complete bupkiss, what with the missing skeleton. I’ll just be another re-interpretation in the next evolution of creationist museums.

In any case, the retainer remains my nightly necessity. Until I gather the courage to abandon it, or find the funds to get a new one, I’ll keep putting this mixed-medium piece of orthodontic art in my mouth until I can consume the world.


The Importance of Floss

Lucio thought back to the cob of corn he had eaten, feeling both love and annoyance.

Love was the dominant emotion, for he loved his corn. In all things, corn was his favourite. Corn chips, corn tortillas, popped corn. But the greatest thing was a cob of corn, cooked on a barbecue, slathered in butter.

Still, like all things in life, it was not without its drawbacks. The butter would drip on your clothes, forever staining them with oil. The corn itself might be off, or eaten by bugs.

But the problem, the ever-lasting problem, was teeth. They were necessary for scraping the little nodules off the cob. Being small, the nodules inevitably got stuck between the teeth.

Now, he had a small kernel, or the skin of a kernel, wedged between his two front teeth. It had sat there all night, and he had hoped that, through pushing with his tongue and the benefit of time while he slept, it would dissolve, or slide out, or both.

There was no such luck, and this morning, as he felt the invader lying there, he searched for some floss. It was on days such as these that Lucio rued his lack of floss. He never flossed his teeth, to the worry of his dentist. But Lucio didn’t see the point, as his brushing cleaned the teeth, and so he never kept it on hand, and not keeping it on hand, he never did it.

Lucio spent the day trying to remove the kernel, first with his tongue, then with his fingernail, and finally with a business card. None was effective, and he made a note to pick up floss on his way home. He decided to pick some up even when the kernel dislodged itself around two in the afternoon, but after three more hours of work, he had forgotten, and his teeth remained unflossed.

Dental Treats

Melanie leaned over the reclined man and adjusted the light, making it shine directly over his mouth. “And how often do you floss, Mr. Daniels?”

“Floss? Why would I do that?”

She sighed, knowing she was about to have a battle that would leave many bloody victims. “It’s important for dental hygiene, and helps long term cardiovascular health.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard the nonsense you lot spout. But how will I save all the tasty bits from dinner?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Look at my teeth.” He opened his mouth wide so she could examine the yellowed ivories, bright red gums, the bits of goo stuck in the large gaps between each one. “I have lots of space, so I just push a bit out every now and again, when I’m feeling hungry or need a treat.”

Melanie gagged a little bit, but kept her face impassive. “Okay, well, the ‘treats’ are all well and good, but I’ll still need to floss your teeth as part of your check-up.”

Mr. Daniels sighed. “Yeah, okay.”

After she finished her dental rigmarole, she handed him a toothbrush and floss. “Make sure you use this now, Mr. Daniels.”

“Hm? Yeah, maybe.” He took a piece of bread from his jacket pocket, tore off a piece, and pressed it between his two front teeth before walking to the reception to pay. Melanie shuddered.

Bad Dreams

Melanie stood before the class wearing a towel, speech notes in hand, jaw clenched, the knot slipping. Forcing herself to relax, she opened her mouth to begin speaking, only to have a tooth fall out.

She looked down at the podium, the small white tooth lying on its side. She tasted the irony taste of blood in her mouth, and looked up again. Another tooth fell out. And another. And another.

They were dropping from her mouth like eggs in a science project for troubled middle school kids.

Just as she was about to lose her last tooth, the idea struck her. She whipped off the towel and stuffed it in her mouth, holding her remaining chomper in place.

Arching her back triumphantly, Melanie took a breath in, only to realize the flaw in her plan and the revelations she had made.

God, I hope I wake up soon, she thought. It was another eight minutes of the clock’s torturous ticking before she did.