Explaining an Artist’s Insistence on Retaining His Retainer

Retainer in BoltonDavid Horvitz is very selective of the things he considers keepsakes. Perhaps it was a matter of proximity or intimate use, but this art exhibitor just cannot seem to let go of his retainer.

Two Certainties

It was back in high school when David had his braces removed. He received two retainers for his trouble, ones he has never let go of since. ‘The bottom one is original but the top one broke and was replaced with a mouth guard that protects me from grinding my teeth’, he tells Emily Spivack for her series, The Story of a Thing. David goes on to describe his aged retainers as a ‘kind of like gloves — gloves for the mouth’.

David tells of his sporadic usage of the retainers. After years of use, the artist tries to wean off the usage of this lifetime dental appliance. He now only wears it nightly, sometimes not at all for days or weeks on end. No matter the frequency, David’s retainers remain behind his medicine cabinet, tucked inside a pink box bearing his younger sister’s name. ‘At one point, I guess I took her case’.

Unending Usage

Dentists from Fresh Dental note that there is nothing especially concerning about David’s attachment to the retainers, as long as they are kept clean. The nightly wearing of retainers long after braces come off is the recommended usage anyway, but they note how plastic retainers are bound to lose their ‘retaining’ properties after several years of use.

‘My teeth were very crooked when I was younger’, David recalls. ‘I still wear these retainers almost 20 years later because my parents spent so much money on my teeth, and if I stop wearing the retainers, my teeth could get bad again. It’d be such a waste to regress’, he adds, making it apparent that his dental keepsake carries sentimental value of a financial angle.

‘I hold onto very few things. I try to get rid of as much as I can’, the artist says. ‘I’ve never thought about it before, but my bottom retainer might be the oldest thing I have’.