If I told you that today Noah will begin a two year odyssey of painful and uncomfortable cosmetic procedures costing thousands of dollars so that he will become a more attractive individual, you might wonder why Dave and I would endorse such a thing.  Not only do we endorse it, we have saved money for it.  And we are fully prepared to put his brother through the same torture so he too can grow up to be a handsome man.

There is no medical justification as far as I know for these procedures.  Yet society – at least the microcosm of society in which we reside – dictates that it be done.  In any other context, what Noah is about to go through might be described as a series of cruelties.  Yet, we have a name for it – and with that name comes permission for parents to inflict a little agony on their children.  It’s called orthodontia.

Noah’s treatment will begin with the dentist yanking out 5 of his teeth in two separate sessions, the first of which is this afternoon.  (Incidentally, we were told last week that Chase needs 8 teeth pulled.  Good times.) Once he is toothless there is “room” in his mouth for the permanent teeth to come in, the doctor will permanently affix a palate expander to the roof of his mouth and every day for a week, Dave and I will take turns cranking this contraption to widen the workspace.  expanderHe will wear the palate expander for 6 months, then have metal bands and wires cemented onto his teeth plus who knows what else for about two years, and then the infamous retainer which he will lose I am guessing about 3 times.  If you combine the thousands of actual dollars with the time and aggravation spent on this process, it will equate to, uh, a 5 bijillion dollar smile.

So why do we do readily embrace this process?  Because straight teeth are culturally important, especially here in the United States where you could be judged unfairly if your teeth are going every which way.  Dave and I endured a similar course of action back in the day.  I think the boys are actually looking forward to it because it makes them feel grown up.

200px-Mursi_womanHave you ever watched in fascination at one of those National Geographic specials that features tribes in Africa that stretch their earlobes and lips?  Or read about the suffering of Chinese women who had their feet bound because tiny feet were considered attractive in theri culture?  I wonder if those people might look at us and what we do to our kid’s teeth and completely cringe, thinking we are serious barbarians?  (Don’t even get me started about circumcision, another little “ritual” we embraced when the boys were babies, because that is a blog post unto itself.)footbinding



But it still makes me wonder, if we were part of an African or Amazonian tribe where the lip plate was the norm, would we do it? 


Would you?



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