The Retainer Club

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 8.55.54 AM I need a high-five, a pat on the back and maybe even a hallelujah because it’s been six long years and finally all my kids are out of braces! Talk about a journey because although I’ve been dealing with metal mouths for a half-dozen years the ortho appointments started pretty much post womb.

My husband and I knew our son would be orthodonture bound as soon as his first tooth came in. I remember both of us staring at it and almost simultaneously saying, “Yep, he’s going to need braces.” After that it was years of “watch trips” to the orthodontist as we waited for his “lazy” baby teeth to give up their tenacious grip on the gum line and finally wave the white flag of surrender to the permanent teeth.

Once those bad boys came it was a gruesome journey to the oral surgeon to have some of the permanent teeth sacrificed to eliminate crowding in his mouth. The whole thing felt like a bloody urban renewal project. It was a relief when he could get braces. His teeth must have felt the same way because after a couple of years he had a killer smile.

Now my daughter was another story altogether. Her teeth were perfect. Seriously, she could have been a mouth model for an American Girl doll. Those white, straight, even teeth of hers gave me mom mojo. When other parents would talk about their kids needing braces I would patiently wait for what I knew was coming my way – adulation. Without fail the conversation would turn to my child’s flawless mouth.

Her incisors, those four front teeth that are basically the gatekeepers to your smile, were showstoppers. For a while there I got so wrapped up in my daughter’s “toothage” that I feared it was defining me. In my defense how could it not? When the subject of your child’s wonder teeth dominates your third grade parent teacher conference it just jolts your mom pride into the danger zone.

Then the unthinkable happened. My son’s orthodontist took one look at my daughter’s mouth and dared to inform me that she would need braces! Was this man blind? Did I need to call some ortho hotline or Dateline and report him for practicing without the gift of sight? I was furious and I fought back. I regaled a man with more than a decade of dental and orthodontic school with my tales of everyone, even strangers at Target, stopping to comment on my child’s stellar teeth.

He because, I’m sure they must have a class in dental school or some kind of continuing ed course on how to deal with irrational parents, talked me down and every so slowly explained that it was her bite that was the concern and that once you got past those four front teeth things weren’t that great back there. I quickly acquiesced mainly because he has a very soothing voice and I was educated in how not fixing a bite creates a whole host of lifelong problems. Basically he had me at TMJ.

Fast forward and now I’m a member in good standing of the “Retainer Nagging Club.” This club is open to parents who have spent thousands of dollars on their children’s mouths and now are hell-bent to make sure those teeth don’t stray back to pre braces behavior. (No snaggle tooth on my watch, people.) The retainer is a “until death do you part” device that unless worn every single night of your child’s life will result in their teeth getting a sweet taste of non appliance freedom and going rogue.

I have even gone so far as to make my children sign a document stating that if they do not wear their retainer and I see any teeth tomfoolery going on they must reimburse my husband and I for the full price of their braces. And because I’m not a chump the reimbursal price will factor in what that money could have been doing if placed, not in their mouths, but a retirement account earning a very conservative 5% interest rate. I also had the document notarized just to make sure it’s legalizing binding.

As a quick sidebar if the document would not stand up in court please don’t email me and tell me. I need my kids to believe I could indeed sue them and win. Wait, could I also sue them for pain and suffering? Hmm, there’s a thought. Go ahead and feel free to let me know if that would work. I need more threats in my mom arsenal.

Meanwhile, if you’re a parent with a child out of braces feel free to join the club. We’re easy to find. Just listen for our battle cry. “Where’s your retainer?” “Did you lose your retainer?” “You better be wearing your retainer!” “Don’t forget your retainer!”



7 thoughts on “The Retainer Club

  1. C.S says:

    Parents get your asses into the Retainer Club because my sister didn’t wear hers and 15 years later it’s like she never had braces. I’m going to forward this to my parents and tell them they need to ask for their money back from my sister. 🙂

  2. d collins says:

    In the exact same boat. We knew my oldest needed braces when she was a baby. She is currently in braces and we are at 2 years and 2 months with no end in sight. My youngest has a beautiful smile yet the ortho says it is jaw problem. I could have lipo suction for the amoubt of money i am handing over the dr.

  3. kb8044 says:

    I used to think I dropped a boatload of money with the orthodontist, but then I got the bill for the first semester at KU, and the $200 / month payment plan the orthodontist offered seemed like chump change.

  4. Jesse says:

    Unfortunately, some kids will enter adulthood and they will make the adult decision whether or not they want to keep their teeth straight. My son decided to stop wearing his retainer when he went off to college. This led to multiple arguments, of course. I offered to pay for permanent retainers, and he refused, and then he said he would rather live with crooked teeth than be tied down to a retainer for the rest of his life, and that never wanted his teeth straightened to begin with.

    He’s an adult now. His teeth. His choice. I just can’t keep being the nagging parent, and I can’t protect him from making questionable choices.

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