stiff upper lip

Well, the aligners arrived later than expected — I just got them Wednesday.

One effect of contemporary computer imaging and computer modeling is: the simulation says my lower teeth won’t all fit in my mouth together. Or maybe the simulation takes into account that the jaw in its 50s is likely less accommodating than the jaw in its early teens, which for these purposes amounts to the same thing.


As part of getting my aligners, my dentist sanded off the sides of several of my teeth, mostly in my lower jaw. Everyone’s working to a careful blueprint (vs. Dr. Pagano’s once-necessary artistry),

and also these lower teeth are now square. Y’know, with corners. According to my tongue, they are no longer My Teeth. In the two meals I’ve had since aligners, I’m more comfortable popping the trays back in than leaving them off… the trays are shaped like my own teeth. A win for compliance! she said ruefully.

Aside from square teeth, and learning my lower right jaw’s strong aversion to high-frequency vibration (those roots are still sore),

I’ve gotten a new theory: the UK cultural idea of the Stiff Upper Lip just might have embodiment.

No, really! I’d always presumed it a metaphor, alluding to the mouth-move one makes when slowing tears as they well up.

But for this orthodontic process we’ve popped in a lip-guard/mouth-opener each time.
And each time the professionals have to reseat it at least twice, because it slips out with a spring.
And each time the pros ask me to relax my lips, which I gotta tell ya is something I cannot figure out how to do.

I can make puffer fish faces in a few directions. I can make motorboat lip flapping, as well as some basic embrasure moves (thanks, Dad and your French horn!). But to think “relax, lip” and have something happen? Nope. Just nope.

In fact, as I run my tongue around between my outer teeth and inner lip, I can push the muscle and pop over it at the lip itself.

Stiff upper lip might not just be a metaphor for emotional repression… it might be a cultural way of life-!

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