Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 5, 2011

Seven years of 'train tracks' mold my future

By Robin Trierweiler
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — My mouth is a screaming metal death trap. Singlehandedly, my mouth can murder flies, make humans bleed and instigate two-hour search parties. It has the ability to melt rubber cement and a retirement fund.

Even though it is the spawn of Satan and Austin Powers combined, I have yet to come across a more influential and inspiring figure than my mouth.

Now, I'm not going to go on a storming tangent about the history of my mouth, but here's a brief overview. From spacers, expanders, braces, pulled teeth, retainers with prosthetic teeth, and back to braces again, I've basically seen it all. Additionally, this year's Christmas present is a visit to my oral surgeon where I will receive corrective jaw surgery (which is the polite way to say he's going to break my jaw).

Symptoms of possessing the world's most difficult mouth arose way back in second grade. Here, I learned about my mouth's strange and unfortunate gene mutation where my saliva actually dissolves the rubber cement used to apply retainers. After the fifth time reinstalling the retainer into my mouth, my orthodontist gave up and decided to put on braces, transforming me into the only kid in second grade with a metal mouth.

The horrors of awkward school pictures, a zero caramel tolerance, and the nick-name Train Tracks were only a few dilemmas that filled the next seven years of my brace-faced life.

Yeah, seven years.

Freshman year my braces were finally removed and replaced with a plastic retainer, but not a traditional Essix retainer, either.

As a child, my right lateral incisor never developed, and consequently, my retainer had a fake tooth molded into it. To refrain from resembling a hillbilly or pirate, my retainer had to be worn all day, every day. This lead to unfathomably fun times, such as when my retainer went missing two days before prom and I had a five-person search-party in an attempt to find the plastic gem. It was in the shoe basket; no worries.

Fortunately, scares such as those were short-lived, because by the end of my junior year the metal nightmare was glued on yet again. This is because a prothetic tooth implant and jaw surgery are the next steps in my orthodontic escapade, and braces must be present for the jaw surgery (to aid in wiring my mouth shut). Because seven years wasn't fun enough, I am stuck embracing year eight of "What up, Train Tracks!?"

These years of oral torture have sent me on a track of my own -- an epiphany so significant that the rest of my life has been influenced because of it. Some call it ironic. I call it destiny. Somewhere between cutting my own excess brace wire to filing the sharp outer edges of my retainer, I have come to the realization that when I'm older, I am going to be an orthodontist.

Robin Trierweiler is a senior at Elk Rapids High School.