This is a story of something that really happened on my holiday in the UK and why you should always carry your Invisalign case (If you’ve lost your Invisalign case find a new one here!). (Incidentally, the slightly squeamish amongst you may wish to stop reading this post at this point; skip merrily to the next entry– trust me on this.)
When I picked up my aligners for the first time my orthodontist was very clear about one thing. That you should never, ever, whatever else you do, wrap your aligners in paper tissues or napkins when you take them out to eat. I looked at him earnestly, nodded my understanding and then promptly went on my way to set about doing exactly that.
Until recently it hadn’t been too much of a problem. There had been a couple of close calls, a few chases across restaurants as the waiter cleared my plate, snatching aligners from the jaws of waste disposal units, but nothing too serious. I have always known that I am useless at remembering to take my aligner cases with me, but it didn’t seem like a big enough problem that I should actually change my behaviour. Until now.
I took my children to a petting farm whilst on holiday. One of those places where little people get to hand feed lambs, watch a cow being milked, climb a few hay bales, torment terrified chickens- I’m sure you’ve seen the kind of places. After a couple of hours we were all starving so we trudged along to the “restaurant” – a marvel of formica, polystyrene and plastic chairs with just a whiff of manure still lingering in the air, all set in an old metal milking shed. It was a counter service place, so after washing our hands we loaded a tray with some sandwiches and drinks and sat down. My children were tired and tetchy by this point so there was much bribing and cajoling to get them to sit in their seats and eat their food. As ever I had forgotten my Invisalign case, so I happily whipped out my braces behind my hand and wrapped them in one of those white paper napkins that such places have. By the end of the meal my children were desperate to go and jump on the adventure playground that had been beckoning to them through the open door all mealtime, so I swiftly wiped their grubby faces, picked up the tray and placed it in a tray rack over by the exit.
It was about 10 minutes before the empty feeling in my mouth alerted me to the fact that my aligners were now- somewhere. I didn’t like to think too much where. So, leaving my children with my mother I sprinted (believe me, not something you will see very often) back to the restaurant to find my discarded tray. Of course it was gone. Long ago cleared by the very efficient lady who took the trays and deposited the waste from everyone’s meals into the huge black dustbins at the back of the restaurant.
At this point I knew that my braces were gone. There was no way I would would be either willing or able to find them amongst the half eaten scraps of so many meals. Except there was just one tiny problem. I was in the UK in the depths of country Dorset, 28 hours flight from my home in Australia and 3 hours drive from my only other set of aligners in the UK. Those only spares (my next set, not due to be worn for 5 more days) were sitting in my spare Invisalign case in my husband’s suitcase somewhere north of London where he had gone to work. For some crazy reason I had thought that him keeping the spares would be a safer idea. Consequently, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get to the spare set for at least four days, and to any other set for four weeks. Not good. Not good at all.
I had a choice to make. Abandon the braces there and then and be braceless for the best part of a week, having completely eliminated the possibility of finding them. Or, forage through the bins, arm deep in other peoples half eaten meals, find the aligners and then figure out whether or not to actually wear them. So forage I did. The very nice lady who cleared the tables looked at me in a very bemused manner but kindly gave me a pair of rubber gloves and I in return told her the little white lie that my eight year old had removed her braces and left them on the tray, and that I needed to find them because they cost $5000. I know you shouldn’t blame your children for your mistakes, but I am putting this one down as karma for all the times that my daughter has embarrassed me.I’m not sure why but I just couldn’t bring myself to give the lady a truthful explanation of the whole sorry, humiliating tale.
There were two bins that they tipped scraps into. Each of them larger than a household bin, just above waist high, but wide; wide enough that it was a stretch to lean across them. They were three quarters full of food scraps, balled up napkins, half finished drinks- you name it, it was in there. Very carefully I set about lifting every paper napkin and delicately squishing it to feel whether my aligners were inside. It took about 10 stomach churning minutes of bending over the enormous bin, backside high in the air as I went on tiptoes to reach far enough into the bin to get to everything. 10 long minutes of rooting amongst the detrius, the sandwiches with a single bite taken, the yoghurt coated chips, the large wet splodges of cold baked beans that seemed to have attached themselves to every other piece of rubbish, before I finally found them; still nestled safely inside the napkin, wrapped tight and unsullied, a little wetter than when I left them- but there.
I couldn’t face putting them in though. Even after sterilising them thoroughly, brushing them, soaking them for twice the recommended time in denture cleaner. Even though I knew that they had stayed wrapped in the napkin and were probably just as clean as when I had lost them. I still couldn’t bring myself to actually put them into my mouth. I don’t know if it was the dustbin, or the half eaten food, or the proximity of so many animals that put me off, but I just couldn’t do it.
So I set about a series of frantic phone calls: to my husband, my mother in law and my brother. Somehow from the jaws of disaster, and after no more than 40 minutes of pure unadulterated begging, pleading and negotiating, my dear, dear, slightly bemused brother came up trumps. He was coming to Dorset anyway to see me the next day, and via a series of complicated 25 mile detours would meet up with my husband on the way and deliver my spare, fresh, sparkling new aligners to me. I would have to wait more than 12 hours to get them, but I figured it would be worth it just to avoid having to choose between 5 brace free days and the inevitable alignment problems that would cause and wearing “bin braces” and the potential revulsion/sickness that would cause.
I’d love to be able to say that since this whole sorry episode I have been ever diligent about putting my Invisalign case in my bag whenever I leave the house, but somehow, although less forgetful than before, I am still not perfect at remembering. So if any of you have any tips as to how to remember these things or can even reassure me that I am not alone in my stupidity I would love to hear from you via the comments section.