Friday, 21st May 2004
I am OFFICIALLY braces free!
Dad tried to take a photo of me before we left for Dr Chang’s office but I was like, ‘Hell no! Why-would-I-want-a-photo-to-remind-me-of-how-ugly-I-look-with-them-on?’OMG. So lame. I don’t want any memories of how I look with braces on. They just ruin photos. Even Mercy told me once to shut my mouth because it was blinding her. I wish that they were like, clear or something, you know? So people didn’t notice them as much. Maybe in the future they will have invisible braces…
We got to Dr Chang’s office around 10.00am. It was pretty quiet but I wasn’t surprised. Most people come after school hours because they are teenagers. I’ve only really seen a couple of older people come in for an appointment in all the time that I’ve had braces. Dad says it’s because most people couldn’t really afford them when he was growing up, and even now, they are still pretty expensive, they just learnt to live with crooked teeth. Dad is living proof of that. But at least with guys, they can grow beards to like, cover up their teeth, but girls can’t. Unless they’ve got PCOS. Lol. Just kidding.
The receptionist let us go straight through to the patient room and I was pretty shocked to find Dr Chang waiting for me. Usually he rocks up like, 10 minutes late.
“Hello Mr Atkinson, Amber,” he greeted us cheerfully, “Please come and have a seat and lean back on the chair.”
“Hello Dr Chang,” Dad said happily, “Big day today!”
“Yes, it sure is,” he laughed, as he opened his patient file.
He pretty much summarised what he had been doing for the past 3 years with my teeth, and explained that today he was going to remove all the brackets and wire, and then remove the glue from my teeth, as well as even out the bottoms to make sure I’ve got a perfect smile. Then, he showed me the instruments that he was going to use. I’m not gonna lie – I was freaking nervous! They didn’t look too scary, but they were still pretty intimidating. Once he finished talking, he moved around to my face and told me to relax.
Yeah. Because telling someone to relax is actually going to make them relax.
I don’t think so!
I laid farther back into the chair and opened my mouth nervously. I swear, it was the strangest sensation. There was a bit of pressure on my teeth and then a ‘ping’. Well, that’s how it felt in my head. Dr Chang made a point of showing me each bracket he removed, and telling me about his son. I don’t know why he’s so interested in setting me up with his son. No offence, but I just don’t date Asian guys. It’s nothing against them in general, I think they are pretty cool. It’s just… in my head, I don’t think that I look good alongside them.
I’m so used to seeing mum and dad together, that to see the reverse of that – you know, an Asian guy and an Aussie girl – is just foreign to me. Adrian didn’t even know that I was half Filipino until he saw mum, so I don’t really have Asian features. And besides, I’m so used to getting attention from white guys, and it doesn’t help that my friends would probably tease me if I dated an Asian guy. So… I guess that’s why I feel the way that I do about dating Asians. I know it’s shallow and superficial, but it’s just how I feel at the moment. It could change. I mean, if I’m not with Taj for the rest of my life, I could end up finding my Asian soulmate.
It’s a grey area. And it’s definitely something I don’t want to share with anyone. I don’t want people to think I’m racist or anything. Because I’m not. How can I be when 50% of me is a different nationality?
Anyway, so once all the brackets were off, he started removing the glue from my teeth. It was like he was buffing them, like how people buff their cars. When he was finished, he used sandpaper or something to even out my teeth, so that they all level. Then he handed me a mirror.
I couldn’t believe it.
They. Were. GONE!
And my teeth looked so nice!
They were a bit yellow, but they still looked really good! Definitely no shark teeth, that’s for sure.
“Looks good,” Dad approved, “Now you can get a boyfriend.”
I rolled my eyes, “I already have a boyfriend. Remember?”
Dr Chang looked a little disappointed that I hadn’t mentioned that before. He excused himself and said he’d be back in about 5 minutes. I really hope it wasn’t because I dashed his dream of me going out with his son.
“You’re so embarrassing!” I growled at Dad.
“What?” he asked innocently, “C’mon, let me have a look at your teeth.”
It was so awkward, having dad be so close to my face. He tried to touch my teeth but I slapped his hand away. In response, he ruffed up my hair and laughed. Dad is so lame sometimes. Dr Chang re-entered the room with a weird pink substance in a cup.
“We need to take a mould of your teeth so that we can get a retainer made up for you,” he said as he walked over to an overhead cabinet and pulled out something that resembled a mouthguard.
“A retainer?” Dad asked, confused.
“Yes, Amber will have to wear it every day for the next 2 months to make sure that her teeth stay in place,” Dr Chang informed him, “She will eventually be able to wear it less and less, but unfortunately, she will have to wear if for the rest of her life, otherwise by the time she is 40, they will revert back to the way they were before getting braces.”
My jaw dropped.
Dad was shocked.
And Dr Chang was professional, as always.
“You’re joking, right?” I blurted out.
“I wish I was,” Dr Chang said sadly, “But because of the shape of your jawline, there’s always going to be the issue of crowding. It won’t be as bad as you think. Ultimately, you’ll only need to wear them while you’re sleep, about 3 times a week. It’s only in the short term that you’ll need to wear them 24/7 to ensure that your teeth set properly.”
I sighed. Yeah. As if that was going to make me feel any better!
“That’s not too bad. At least you’ll have a nice smile,” Dad tried to reassure me.
Dr Chang nodded and continued to speak, “We need to get your retainer made right away, and usually this can be done within 24 hours. But you’re very lucky that it’s Friday, so you’ve got the weekend to enjoy your new smile.”
Great. 3 days of freedom, followed by a lifetime of wearing a freaking mouthguard. Yay for me.
“Thanks Dr Chang,” I said politely, trying to hide my disappointment.
“That’s ok Amber,” he replied courteously.
“So when does she get this retainer?” Dad asked him.
“ASAP. But the lab only operates during weekdays. So Monday afternoon at the latest. Just book an appointment at reception on your way out,” Dr Chang told Dad as he gestured me to sit down in the chair again, “Ok, I need you to bite down on the mouthguard to create a cast of your teeth. Try not to move around too much. It will only take about 2 minutes for it to start setting.”
Dr Chang started to fill the cup up with water and furiously started to mix it together. Then, once it formed a paste, he put it into the mouthguard and shoved it into my mouth.
Nicely, of course.
I sat there for what felt like forever, until he removed it from my mouth and gave me a cup of water to rinse out any mould. It wasn’t too bad; it tasted a little like bubblegum. And then I ran my tongue over the front of my teeth… it was SO smooth! I ended up doing it all day. It felt so nice. And if I was only going to have 3 days of retainer-free time, I was going to make the most of it.
Dad dropped me at school just before 4th period, but I didn’t mind. He bought me some McDonald’s as a consolation prize… and also because I didn’t have anything for breakfast, so I was starving. Lol. It felt weird eating without braces. I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to bite into my cheeseburger, or if it was going to get stuck in my teeth. My mouth also felt a little lighter, if that makes any sense. And it didn’t hurt at all. It was pretty cool. Then I had a sudden realisation; I can have popcorn and gum now! And I’ll be able to bite into apples and have toffee too! I’m so excited to try all the foods I couldn’t have before!
So, I walked into maths class and I flashed a smile at everyone, including Lauren…
And she didn’t even notice!
I wasn’t fishing for compliments or anything, but I just wanted some type of acknowledgement that people actually noticed me. Especially my friends. And Lauren failed so bad. She didn’t say anything about it for the whole session! She’s not blind, so why didn’t she notice?
I was sooooo pissed off!
In fact, none of my friends noticed, until Taj came along at lunchtime and pointed out the obvious.
“Wow! You have a beautiful smile!” Taj said sweetly as he gave me a hug.
I hugged him back, “Aww, thankyou!”
“OMG Amber, your braces are gone!” Mercy said, as she tried to look under my face for some reason.
“What?! You didn’t say anything!” Lauren exclaimed, “Why didn’t you say anything in Maths?”
I shrugged my shoulders, not wanting to admit the real reason, “I dunno.”
“You look gorgeous,” she complimented, obviously a little embarrassed she didn’t notice my braces were gone.
“So, what was it like?” Jenny asked me, strangely eager to find out how it all went down.
I ended up telling them about my morning and funnily enough, they all listened to me. I actually felt like the centre of attention for once. It was nice. Not because I had their undivided attention, but because I felt like they care about me. Well, cared enough to ask me about my braces, and to listen to what I had to say.
Everything in my world feels perfect.
Like I said, I’ve got 3 days of freedom, until I have to start wearing stupid retainers. Ugh.