Fayes T Kantawala made a life-changing trip to the dentist's

Like a lot of tragically traumatic events, it started with a routine trip to the dentist. It had been a while, so I called mine up for a regular cleaning. I abhor dentists, as I am sure do you. They are far too confident for people who got to graduate medical school earlier than their peers in other fields. Plus, the idea of being in that torture chair – a cross between a shrinks’ couch and an alien abduction story — while staring up at their faces framed by a halo of that awful light they use is, quite literally, the stuff of nightmares.

The doctor was cleaning my teeth when he began a conversation about how nice my teeth look, how well I take care of them and how he wished more of his patients were like me. Quite chuffed, I contorted my face to make it look as beatific as possible with tubes in my mouth and streams of saliva flowing down my chin. How nice, I thought. For every compliment I got I thought I could stay away another six months. He was luring me into a false calm, however.


My mood darkened.

“But,” I asked, “but what?”

“It’s nothing,” he shrugged nonchalantly.

“What’s nothing?”

“No, it’s just that, well, I’m sure you’re happy with your teeth as they are, na?”

“Um… I mean...“

“What’s the point of perfection?”

“Perfection?” I asked, my eyes sparkling with interest.

“Perfection,” he repeated in a magical whisper, engaging my sparkle with his gaze. “Your lower teeth are slightly misaligned...”

Now I knew this to be an understatement, since my incisors have always looked like they were in a traffic jam, “but I think six months of braces would take care of it like that!” He snapped his fingers at ‘that’, but his gloves slightly dulled the effect.

“Six months? Really? Like that…”


And that was it, the thought had been planted in my head and was growing like a beanstalk. I had been through the embarrassing but altogether acceptable horror of metal braces as a teenager. But it turns out that fly-by-night dentist who did them was either drunk or deranged or both. After four painful years my teeth were no straighter than when I had started the procedure. (It recently came to my attention that my old dentist, Dr. Eviltooth, is still practicing, but I don’t want to publicly shame him here for I have other, darker plans…) I didn’t really think about it much until I grew into adulthood, and found myself covering my mouth when I laughed or being conscious of what parts of my teeth were visible when I spoke. Most people never commented on it and I don’t think many noticed let alone cared, but it was one of those insecurities that nags at your ego. My frustrations only grew when I realized this was exactly why I had worn braces to begin with(at the time I thought them a way to fit in with everyone else, my father called me and my two best friends “The Three Braces”). I had been, essentially and irrevocably, duped.
Metal braces in adulthood? I'd rather get syphilis than go around with train tracks on my teeth

But metal braces in adulthood? I mean, I’d rather get syphilis than have to go around with train tracks on my teeth again. All those mouth sores, the jaw aches, the bits of food stuck in your teeth, the general unpleasantness of it all. But the apparent dentistry has come light years since Dr. Eviltooth attacked my molars. Now Pakistani dentists have access to Invisalign. What happens is they give you plastic trays molded to your existing teeth, but slightly tighter. They snap on like an iPhone cover. You take the trays out when eating and brushing etc,. but otherwise are meant to leave them in. Every two weeks you change to another set of trays and eventually, miraculously, you’ll have perfect teeth. Or nearly perfect teeth. The best part about the procedure is that no one can tell you’re wearing anything, for the most part. The trays are clear and molded so tightly to your teeth as to be ‘invisible’. Or at least I bloody hope so.

All this I was told by the doctor in one session, and my head was turning with the possibility of becoming a smile model. There was a catch, though. In order to begin, I needed an extraction. Again, Dr. Eviltooth had already taken out three of my teeth and my enduring memory of this was seeing him with his leg propped on the chair for leverage as he yanked a pair of pliers back and forth in my mouth while I screamed like a banshee being violated.

I insisted the doctors give me some sort of major anesthesia for the procedure or else I would hurt someone. They believed my threats to be real, bless them, for when I arrived on the day of the extraction they had two anesthesiologists, four nurses, two dentists and a tank of horse tranquillizers waiting for me. I slipped into the chair, slightly nervous, and they gave me an injection of what I can only describe as pure bliss. A half hour later I was told it was all over.

But it’s not. I’ve been waiting for my trays to arrive for a few weeks and am in this limbo period where all I have to show for my efforts are crack-addict teeth. There is a gaping black hole literally front row and center. It taunts me as I brush and spits at me as I talk. It’s like an evil twin. The feeling reminds me of when we lost our milk teeth as kids, except people don’t find this nearly as endearing.

Now I look at adolescents around me and compare orthodontic plans, which they find quite odd. I am what I always pitied, an adult with braces. I don’t know how long this thing will take (I have a suspicion the dentist was lying about how long ‘snap’ actually is) but I can’t turn back now. I won’t. As God is my witness, I’m just a toothpaste ad waiting to happen.

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