Children are always curious about things they aren’t allowed to do. If you warn them to stay away from something all they want is to go near it. If you tell them something is dangerous, they want to investigate, to find out why.
Children also like to mimic the behaviors of the grown-ups they are around. This is frequently proved when little children see grown-ups chewing gum. As soon as they’re old enough to speak the words, kids will ask for gum if they see adults chewing it. Of course you don’t give gum to little kids because they don’t know not to swallow it or they are more likely to choke on it. Eventually, though, children are old enough, knowledgeable enough to be allowed to chew gum and they feel more special for their achievement.
And then kids go to school and once again, gum is not allowed. Once again, all they want is what they can not have. Who among us never snuck chewing gum in grade school, as if holding the softened, flavorless lump in your mouth is equally as satisfying as chewing the gum, because you can’t actually chew for fear of being caught? Which of us did not chew a mere fraction of a piece of gum in the hope that we could chew subtly enough that our teachers would not notice.
Eventually, as we age and we can be trusted not to stick our gum to the bottom of any hard surface within reach, that restriction is removed and we’re free to chew all the gum we want. For some people, the loss of that restriction removes the appeal and chewing gum becomes less important; something that’s saved for a quick breath freshener after a meal, or a means to moisten a dried mouth and sometimes to satisfy a craving without actually ingesting extra calories.
For me, gum became an almost constant pass-time. I liked small pieces of gum, spearmint, whitening. I loved to chew gum. I was never tacky with my gum, believing fully that gum seen or heard by others was gum that should be in the trash. Gum chewing was for my own personal pleasure and so three years ago when I embarked a journey to straighter teeth, by way of Invisalign invisible braces, I knew that the thing I would have the most difficult with, would be the inability to chew gum.
Invisalign aligners are supposed to be worn 22 hours a day. You take them out to eat a meal. As soon as the meal is finished you’re supposed to immediately floss and brush your teeth and then reinsert your aligners. That doesn’t leave any time for chewing gum. When I first started Invisalign I really missed chewing gum but of course I couldn’t do it while wearing my aligners and eventually I got used to it.
Three years later, I hardly think about gum at all. In fact, on Tuesday, I finished my course of Invisalgn treatment. The dentist removed the attachments that have been adhered to my teeth for three years and I walked out of his office a free, un-tooth-encumbered man… For now.
Tonight, as I was changing my clothes after work it suddenly dawned on me, out of the blue, I haven’t had a single piece of gum since. Haven’t even thought about it. What on earth has happened to me???