The Spacer Saga: Day One

The Literally Gripping Prequel to “The Spacer Saga: Day Two”*

Seriously. Dental tools had to be gripped.

I’ve gotta tell you: I was sort of giddy on my way to the orthodontist office Tuesday morning. A night of stomachache sort of dampened the fluffiness of said giddiness, but let it be known that it existed! I was finally getting to start the gritty, visceral part of my orthodontic journey (hyperbolic? yeahhhhhhh). We’d moved past the theorizing. A plan had been made, and now it was time to get my teeth dirty spaced.

I frolicked walked into the office and bypassed the receptionist because she was busy with another check-in. Fortunately, they’re prepared for that sort of situation, because the office a little nook set up with a check-in computer specifically for people who arrive while the receptionist is occupied with another patient. I checked in (I was early—huzzah for not-heavy traffic!), sat myself down in the waiting area, and was happily occupied by observing a house renovation being broadcast on the TV.

My turn came quickly. The tech who had taken my x-rays and dental molds greeted me cheerily and asked me to recline in the highest-rising dental chair I’d ever seen. (I’d bet The Hubster could have reached up and touched the ceiling. I’m only slightly exaggerating.) She showed me the spacers they’d be placing between my farthest back molars (both upper and lower—eight spacers in all).

Now, for some reason, I’d imagined the spacers as hard plastic, or maybe tiny metal contraptions (go, go, sci-fi imagination!). In real life, they looked like thick, miniature ponytail bands—very innocuous, all told, and pretty simple in terms of insertion.

Let’s do this!

So we did.

We did one.

The poor tech fought hard to get that second spacer in, but my teeth were not having any of it. Once the clamp-nosed scissory contraption she was using slipped a little and grazed my gums, she apologized profusely and handed me a small plastic cup of water to swish while she went in search of another tech. (The scratch wasn’t bad at all, and I have a low, low, low tolerance of pain.) I tapped a drop of OnGuard (an essential oil blend) into the water cup and swished it around my mouth. Mm, yes, come to me, sweet quasi-numbing sensation!

The tech returned with another woman, and she explained the problem to the newcomer as my molars were inspected.

“She’s got some sweet contact,” the new tech commented. (Why, yes. Yes, I do!)

The new tech put her upper-body strength to the test and wrestled those spacers into place, pausing to note that she was glad she’d worked out the night before. Within a couple of minutes, all my spacers were in and I was scooting off the chair.

“How do you feel?” they asked.

If you know me, you will be gratified to know that what instantly sprang to mind and past my filter was not only an analogy, but an analogy that included felines. “My mouth feels like a cat with a strip of tape on its fur—on its tummy.”

Back at the office, my new manner of speaking elicited laughs from my co-workers. The springiness of the bits of the spacers peeking over the tops of my teeth were having the same effect on my conversation as a couple of pieces of saltwater taffy injudiciously crammed into the back of my mouth. Ooooh, it was weird.

As time passed and I happily plunked away on my keyboard, I noticed that the back upper right spacer had sprung from its toothy home and was just hanging out, only partially clamped by the teeth it was supposed to be spacing.

Uh-oh.

I called the ortho office right away. They asked me questions about its location, how far out it was, was it on a particular side, et cetera, and concluded that I should return later that day to have it looked at.

*whew* Maybe it wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe I could eat gently and just lightly gum some light food.

The wiggy spacer did not survive trial by Greek yogurt.

Turns out that those two teeth were so tight that they just held the spacer in a way that looked like it was fully inserted. It had certainly felt fully inserted, that’s for sure. The tech who had won the wrestling match against my teeth reapplied herself to the spacer battle, and she won. *cheering!*

Today, that spacer is still firmly wedged between those teeth, along with every other spacer in there (except for the opposite upper one, as mentioned in my previous post).

The maximum level of chewing exertion to which I can push myself is roughly that required to mush up a Chicken Express chicken tender. Anything past that is right out. An all-liquid diet has never looked more appealing.

*Roughly 90% of the time that I try to type “saga,” I end up typing “sage.” I may or may not have wise spacers.

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