I swear I didn't do it.

So, I may be linked to the deaths of two highly influential men. Maybe not so much influential as, uh, dental? But still. They died. And I somehow feel partly responsible.

My childhood dentist. He was a good man. Slightly hunch-backed. Made me nervous, a little. But generally a good man. He cleaned my teeth like the best of them. Provided bubble gum flavored fluoride treatments. I always went home with silly stickers. His examination room was filled with goofy pictures and cartoons, all in the name of making kids like me comfortable. Ah, it was nice.

And then I became a pre-teen. I wanted braces. He said, "No, your teeth are quite good. Braces aren't necessary."

But I wanted braces, don't you get it? I wanted to change the colors of the rubberbands to fit the seasons. I wanted an excuse to never eat an apple again. Braces were cool. I wanted them. And in return, I hated him. Ohhh, did I hate that man. How dare he convince my mother not to spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic dentistry I likely did not need. The nerve of that professional, who knows much, much more about the anatomy of the mouth than I will ever know. Cool, or not.

And then, he died. Gasp. Heart failure of some kind. But how was I to not feel guilty? I cursed him. He ruined my chances of fitting in with the freaks and geeks with braces. And to make it worse? He was buried in the cemetery behind my parents' house. He would haunt me forever, I just knew it.

"You little brat. Why did you hate me so much? You hurt my heart. Literally. Sigh."

I could actually hear those words coming out of the mouth of my former dentist's ghost. But I quickly got over it as time passed, I found a new dentist, and eventually got braces. That's right, I showed him.

(I won't let it be known, of course, that I learned to despise my braces. And when my 10th-grade boyfriend had braces as well, I learned to grin and bear it every time I heard, "Do you two get stuck together when you kiss? Are there sparks?" Uh, no. And no. Except one time, when I was shocked.)

So my orthodontist was great. The nicest man. After all, he believed I needed braces. Or, you know, he needed business, but whatever. I spent two years in and out of his office. Changing my rubberband colors to black and orange for Halloween (which, by the way, looks like mold on your teeth), and purple and white to totally match my high school's colors. It was a-w-e-s-o-m-e (uh, at the time).

Of course, my braces have been off for years upon years now. My teeth? Eh, they're OK. I also learned to hate my retainer. My visits to the orthodontist fell to the wayside, and in the end? Well, who really needed an orthodontist? My teeth never became as straight as I dreamed they would be. Boo-urns.

But I learned a terrible thing today. My orthodontist? Is dead. Crap! How is it that I'm killing off anyone who comes in contact with my pearly whites? I'm sorry. I really didn't mean it this time.

So I'm offering this as a warning: should ever you become a dental professional, and I hope to become your patient, please say no.

And please don't hold me responsible for your impending death.