I was just watching TV (quell suprise) when a teeth whitening commercial assaulted me. It spoke to me about all the things I eat making my teeth yellow. They (whoever ‘they’ are) zoom in on a set of perfectly sized and aligned but, oh so very slightly yellowed teeth. My first thought was, “I remember when teeth were just teeth. We brushed them, rinsed, spit and went about our day. When exactly did it change that teeth were something we had to not just wash but, bah-leach like clothing?”
Don’t get me wrong. I am a total mouth health advocate. I want mine and my kids teeth to last to the ends of our lives. Puh-lease if our teeth are just a bit yellowed from normal ‘use’ so what. I just can’t exactly remember when it happened. I am not a kid. I HAVE kids. Grown adult kids and I cannot recall when tooth color became such a huge detriment to our oh so necessary and constant fabulousness. It all seems so extreme and wrong to me.
The advert talked adamantly about all the things we eat that tragically make our teeth, wait for it,
No pressure here.
As I am being told in a LOUD and passionate tone by an unseen announcer, (“God? Is that YOU?”) that yellow teeth are terribly sad. My whole life will fall apart if my teeth are not white. They zoom in on so very slightly yellowed teeth up on my wall above my head I look up to see the view change to these HUGE WHITE TEETH hanging on my wall. They are so perfect I wonder if they are caps. Speaker continues to indoctrinate me into the white teeth coven. It shows me how those beautiful teeth look SO much better when WHITE!
Right behind, like well-regimented soldiers, are the toothbrush commercials that tell us to treat our teeth gently. Brush them with ‘4,000 micro-rotating bristles’. Use the ‘gentle’ not the ‘firm’ bristled brush. Ours spins more than theirs. No! OURS gently removes more plaque than theirs. Wait, are your teeth white enough to even bother brushing?
You should use the toothpaste that “Whitens and Brightens”. Or the one that has the ‘Natural Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide’ to brighten our teeth and freshen our breath. Just when I think I have the right toothbrush and toothpaste an advert comes on about mouth WASH. Now, not only do I have to soak my teeth in bleach (like our tidy whities), brush them with the ‘right’ toothpaste I have to wash my mouth out with soap.
Isn’t getting our mouths washed out with soap a bad thing? Ok, so it isn’t EXACTLY soap. It approximates the same function though, doesn’t it. Geez, didn’t this all start out as a simple rant about yellow teeth? Yeah, well, just like the commercials they just go on and on and on. My teeth are not just imperfect, they are YELLOW. My breath is not just breath it is BAD breath. My front teeth are slightly CROOKED. I just retrogressed to 13 or 14 years old.
What a jump. I feel little like what’s his name in the movie “Jumper”. Right, Hayden Christensen. His character magically jumps from one location to another on the other side of the world. Just my thought process in action.
Mayer Meyer, if I recall his name correctly, was a family friend and orthodontist. He told my Mom, much to her intense dislike, that there was really nothing wrong with my teeth., Mayer the Orthodontist, who put braces on my three siblings, stopped my Mom and explained that “the only reason the teeth are crooked is that the ends of her teeth flare out more than at the gum line and they just cross over one another. But, her teeth are actually perfect. ” “PERFECT Mom. Did you hear him, Mom?” “But, LOOK her teeth are CROOKED.” Mom is nearly screaming at us both. “I can fix them if you want,” he tells her. ‘But, it would be purely cosmetic.” One of your kids is NOT like the others.
I learned from the best. Mom continued to argue with him. I have no recollection how long this really went on. Back and forth. Mayer keeping his calm througout. However, it is clearly something I have recalled many a time. I am sitting in his orthodonitic chair, leaning slightly back looking up at these two HUGE adult heads speaking above me as if I am just a mannequin. Mom is telling him HE, the DOCTOR, is WRONG!!! He very gently explained pointing to my teeth in the mouth that does not seem to belong to me. I watch his hands coming slowly and gently closer. I know what to do. I use my mouthacle muscles and pull my upper and lower lips back to expose my teeth. I do that quite well. My Mom also brings her hands with her pointing finger enlarging in my view as it comes closer. I see her white and pink finger nail, skin knuckle wrinkles on her round finger heading rigidly straight at my face. Like a missile Mom’s fingers attack my teeth. I am trapped. She taps the problem. I am exposed. I am not a human being. I am HER child/possession. These are HER teeth. I am a diret reflection of HER. If my teeth are imperfect then, so am I. Therefore, SHE is imperfect. My sisters, brother, and I become her shame. Mom is heavily invested in proving to her Father that she is not stupid or bad or worse never right about anything. But, that is a WHOLE different story. Though, it all is wrapped up in this momentary thought process. Amazing how fast the brain processes thoughts. I cannot write as fast as I can think. Nor are my thoughts clean and linear.
My orthodonist when pressured by my Mom that I needed braces to make my upper front two and lower front three teeth straight. I fought her again, no surprise, (I tend toward oppositional defiance). This time I had an ally. I saw no reason to mess with my teeth. Not then, not now. Though, I will admit that these commercials do insert themselves into my conscientiousness making me question myself more than normal. Which is already time con-su-ming.
After much prodding by Mom, he eventually said he could do something to uncross them if I wanted. Structurally there was nothing wrong with my teeth. Braces to straighten would be “purely cosmetic.” This was NOT what my Mom wanted to hear. She was furious with him. Though, his phrase “purely cosmetic” has stuck with me through the decades.
Forget that I am just one of four. Each of us are imbued with Mom’s HUGE HEAVY Brass Liberty Bell sized and heavy weight upon us to be perfect. We weren’t then. Nor are we now. Yet, we all still carry that stigma. Do not fret. That is not the only ignominy Mom, in her own desperate efforts to be even partly acceptable, infiltrated us with.
I have to admit a small personal quirk. I like pretty teeth. They do not have to be blingingly white. I do like straight teeth healthy teeth. No holes or missing teeth.