A Bracing Life:
The Dr. Samantha Wrighting Interview
A Dr. Samantha Wrighting novel
by Catherine Aimes
[About the excerpt: here I was talking with Dr.Wrighting about how she came to realize that her future was in orthodontics.]
Catherine: That fascination all developed when you got braces for the second time?
Dr.Wrighting: It didnít so much develop as it suddenly hit me. Everything came together. I was so unbelievably lucky. The timing was perfect. I had been in this downward teen spiral of not believing in myself, and of wallowing in misery about my parents splitting up, and of aiming to please by being pretty and dumb instead of honing my intellect.
Not wearing my retainers and letting my teeth get crooked again was typical of my passive failures in those years. It was like the perfect symbol of my failures. I just let it happen, because I was careless and lazy and there were no consequences. And then suddenly there were consequences. Really suddenly. Before I could even process it I had a mouthful of braces again. Which were like the ideal consequences, because I was reminded of them every waking moment, and they werenít something I could hide from anyone. Anyone who saw me saw my failure and how I was paying for it literally written in my face Ė in metal bits and wires.
So much for looking pretty, I realized, smiling in the mirror when I got home the day I got them. But instead of feeling sorry for myself and bad about that, I was happy about it. Suddenly it wasnít so easy just to coast any longer. If I wanted to prove myself I had to work at it, I realized. The braces didnít just stabilize my teeth, they stabilized me.
That was amazing, too. There was the incredible speed and extent of my physical transformation, of how I looked, in just a few hours at the hands of the orthodontist. But the suddenness and then extent of the change in my outlook was just as extreme. I didnít just embrace having braces, I saw them as the ticket out of all my misery and teen anxiety and confusion. They were something not just to hold onto, but to build on. Which for me meant not just having braces Ė passively wearing them Ė but eventually becoming someone actively in control of them.
Given how empowering it felt just to get them put on, I imagined that being someone who controlled orthodontic treatments, who braced other kids, that must be like being God.
[About the excerpt: here I was talking with Dr.Wrighting about what she finds most fulfilling about her day to day work.]
Catherine: Is that moment when you finally remove a patientís braces and reveal their new, straight smiles the best one for you? The realization that youíve helped sculpt another perfect mouth?
[Shakes her head.]
Oh, no no no. The best moment is always when the patient is strapped down, her mouth stretched wide open, and Iíve just secured the archwires in a newly installed set of braces and I can see for the first time the scaffolding in place that will move these misaligned teeth into their proper places. Itís that beginning of the journey that is my favorite moment. When I have taken control of the untamed teeth and banded and bracketed them and wired them together for the first time and can begin to force my vision on them.
The girls lie there, wide-eyed, not fully aware of what has happened to them. You can sense their curiosity and fear and anxiousness, but I really love that moment when theyíre still uncertain, not knowing what they look like and what the braces feel like and what this all means.
For me, each new patient is like the beginning of a grand adventure, and thereís that brief moment before I take out the cheek retractor and they close their mouths around their new braces for the first time when thereís all that sense of possibility concentrated there. Itís just wonderful. The most wonderful thing there is.
Dr. Samantha Wrighting is a fictional character, not a real orthodontist.
A Bracing Life: The Dr. Samantha Wrighting Interview is a work of fiction, and for entertainment purposes some of the procedures, devices, experiences, methods and duration of treatment described in this book do not represent what patients are likely to encounter in actually undergoing orthodontic treatment
Readers should not rely on any information or descriptions in this novel. For accurate information about orthodontic treatment readers are encouraged to consult a dentist or orthodontist, or to contact a professional organization such as the American Association of Orthodontists (www.braces.org).
All rights reserved ó Copyright © Catherine Aimes 2006, 2013