Empathy: BRACES what?


On Monday I took the plunge and joined the world of most tweens in this country–Braces.  Well, to be completely accurate, I am now sporting a stellar pair of Invisalign.

I’ve had this love/hate relationship with my teeth for a while now.  Until I hit my mid-30s, my teeth were straight.  People assumed I had braces when I was young.  I was lucky considering braces would NOT have been an option for this African bred girl.

Then like magic, I hit 36 and everything began to fall apart, including my teeth.  Root canals, crowns, fillings–you name it, my mouth became a mess.  For a religious every 6 month to the dentist girl, I was beyond frustrated.  What in the world?!  I thought preventative treatment was just that–preventative.

Here I am, 40 and in braces.  I’ve made a few empathic observations this week.

Observation 1:  Anything on your teeth for extended periods of time hurt.  Plain and simple.  PAIN.  Tylenol becomes your best friend until you make observation two.

Observation 2:   Tylenol creates all kinds of stomach havoc when you can’t eat because of the braces.  Meds and a empty stomach are NOT a great combination.

Observation 3:  Actual braces would have been better than Invisalign.  They are not invisible, despite your best efforts to hide them.  Any time you eat, you have to take them out.  Insert salvia and multiple efforts of tugging and pulling to get them off your teeth.

Observation 4:  Food tastes terrible.  There is a layer of putty all over your teeth, created to help keep the trays on your teeth.  However, this putty does not wear away despite strong assurances from the orthodontist that it will.

Observation 5:  My sweet children who’ve already undergone braces have deep empathy for me.  When I show them mouth sores from rubber band plugs, they get it.  In turn, I have empathy for them. I now get it!


I am committed to this teeth straightening journey.  It’s a humble reminder to me that I can’t control everything in my life.

Yes, I picked my pain so this is not a self pity post. Rather, it’s realizing once again the old adage–you have to walk in someone’s shoes to truly understand what they are going through.

I will be sprinting to the store to get Tobin ice cream and mouth numbing cream come braces #2 time.  I’m walking in those shoes and boy does that sound good right about now!

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