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.