The Day I Forgot My Retainers

It seems like something weird always happens on vacation. It doesn't matter how well you plan, or how many times you double check your list. There is always something important left behind.

I was thirteen years old and had just gotten my braces off the month before. I was so proud of my new smile. My parents were so happy the expense was just about over. I had two retainers that I had to wear constantly, except when eating. My orthodontist gave me a lecture about keeping track of my retainers, which my Mom repeated the whole car ride home. I knew I was mature and would never lose my retainers. I should have knocked on wood. Part of that lecture included the fact that if I didn’t wear the retainers, my teeth could, and likely would, shift out of alignment. I was about as eager to get back into braces as my parents were to pay for them all over again. So, I was definitely committed to acting in compliance with my orthodontist’s wishes.

We were heading to Family Camp, a fun place in Oklahoma where parents and kids spent a week together in traditional summer camp conditions. As a kid, I thought it was great. My parents have always played a lot with us, so we looked forward to the time together.

Things were going well until the third night. We had just finished supper and I wanted to go to the bonfire and eat marshmallows. My big sister was going to hang out inside with her friends. I decided to give her my retainers, wrapped in a napkin, so I could eat outside. That was mistake number one. My orthodontist had told me to NEVER wrap my retainers in a napkin. I also failed to tell my sister what was in the napkin. That was my second mistake.

After a few too many s'mores, I came back inside to rinse my mouth and pop in my retainers. I ran into my sister as she was heading out the door. I asked her for my retainers, but she just looked at me blankly. Then the realization dawned on her and she went rushing back inside. I followed her inside just in time to see her digging through the trash can.

Thankfully, we found the retainers, but that was not the end of the retainer saga. Two days later we started the long drive home. I slept for most of the time, so didn't realize until we were hours away that I had left my retainers sitting on the edge of my bunk.

My normally fun parents switched to irate parent mode. They made me call the camp and ask them to send my retainers with
expedited shipping if they found them. Even going just a few days without my retainers would have had lasting and costly damage on my new smile, as my parents frequently reminded me.

The director found my retainers and rushed to get them shipped. The next day I was back to wearing my retainers, and busy working off my postage debt. While I no longer need to wear my retainers, I recognize the importance of a healthy smile. As an adult, my smile has given me confidence, and possibly even opened the door to my career.