While it's not unusual for people my age (quickly approaching 65) to get dentures, what is unusual is for them to get braces. Like me. I'm getting braces — much to my grandchildren's horror.
"You're doing what?" said Tilleigh, 10, "You can't do that. You're a grandmother."
Evie, 7, who occasionally tells me I look like a teenager (good girl) because I'm covered in freckles, was equally as shocked.
"Mom (my grandkids call me Mom), seriously? You'll look ridiculous," Evie said.
Thanks for the votes of confidence, girls.
William, 4, had a different take. "What are braces?"
To be fair, the girls visualized their grandmother with a mouth filled with traditional silver or the trendy multicolored metal braces.
"Please don't get them, Mom. You're getting the red ones, aren't you?" Tilleigh said, with a seriously terrified look on her pretty little face.
It wasn't until I explained that I'm getting Invisalign — custom-made clear aligners that fit snugly over the teeth — that the girls were OK with what I'm doing.
The aligners serve the same purpose as traditional metal braces as they adjust teeth over a period of time, but the big difference is that they are clear and removable (though the more they're taken out, the longer it takes to straighten the teeth).
Some people may question why I'm choosing to have this done so late in life. It's a simple answer. I smile a lot, and my teeth are important to me. In the last couple of years, though, they are becoming crowded and, as a result, shifting.
Tom Popp, my orthodontist, told me that though my teeth had been straight the majority of my life, the recent shifting is due to aging. Thankfully, the problem is fixable.
Taking care of my teeth has been a decades-long dedication.
My late father was a stickler about brushing and flossing one's teeth twice a day. I don't think I've ever gone a day in my life without doing just that.
Wearing Invisalign is going to be an adjustment, though. My daughter, Karah, 40, got Invisalign about a year ago. The result is one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen. Still, Karah will be the first to admit that the process was often painful, but she said she'd do it again in a heartbeat. She's my biggest cheerleader.
Additionally, an adult friend who recently got her braces removed said the painful process was like moving bones instead of teeth. Like Karah, she said the pain was worth the result.
The cost of my Invisalign is around $5,500 (my children's braces cost about $3,000 each back in the late 1980s, so I expected the price to be at least doubled). Not surprisingly, my dental insurance does not offer a penny's worth of coverage (I'm about 47 years older than the coverage maximum age of 18).
There's more to this story than getting straight teeth. I'm showing my grandchildren that age is not a factor when you want to do something positive that makes you feel better about yourself.
So, look out, everyone, my big "old" smile is about to get bigger.
Contact Karen Nazor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.