Leila McKinnon: Why I have braces and metal plates screwed into my cheekbones.

No one has ever accused me of piercing my tongue before.

A list of people more likely to pierce their tongue than me would include Princess Mary, Jeanette Howard, and the pope. But since I got lingual braces about four months ago things have become a little strange.

I do have a slight lisp. I was hoping it was sexy but my husband David said it’s only sexy if you’ve always had it. He helpfully added if you get a new lisp at the age of 43 people assume you’ve had a stroke.

That’s not perfect when you speak for a living. The only happy person in this situation is my dentist who’d been begging me to get braces for 15 years. And of course my orthodontist who’s enjoying my whining, sulks, oversensitivity to pain, and my contribution to his no doubt enviable holidays.

I didn’t get braces because my eye teeth hover about half a centimetre above all my other teeth. People told me they were a quirk that added character. They were probably being polite but my slightly odd teeth didn’t bother me in the slightest.

I got braces because I have an anterior open bite. That means I can’t bite anything. At all. I can chew on my two back teeth. But to transfer my food from my plate to my two hard working chewing teeth I need a knife and fork. If you’ve ever seen anyone eat a sandwich with a knife and fork it was probably me.

When I was 16 a dentist told me I needed to have my jaw broken and re-set.

When too much selfie is never enough…

A photo posted by Leila McKinnon (@leilamckinnon) on


Dear reader, I laughed. Oh the tricks those dentists will use to get a lovely holiday I thought to myself.

When I was 34 and the Nine Network’s US correspondent based in LA I went to Gwen Stefani’s dentist on Rodeo Drive. I know this because there were about a dozen photos of the lovely Gwen on the wall of the surgery (I’m assuming he was not simply a mad stalker).

When he told me I needed braces and surgery and it would cost around $50 thousand dollars I ran past the Gwen pictures, grabbed a knife and fork, and consoled myself with a $25 sandwich in a Rodeo Drive diner.

Leila is the host of Nine’s Inside Story.

But years later my reliable two chewing teeth are starting to crack under the pressure, literally. So I have lingual braces. They cleverly run behind your teeth so you can’t see them but they do make speaking a little more difficult.

I’ve also had an operation to have metal plates screwed into my cheekbones. They will anchor the hooks in my mouth which will be attached to my molars. It’s all so nasty and tedious I won’t go into any more details.

“o what did I get? A story about Mith Univerth Authtralia…”

On my first day back at work I went in hoping to avoid all words containing the letter s. So what did I get? A story about Mith Univerth Authtralia, or as I like to call her “our pageant winner”.

Leila McKinnon is the host of Nine’s Inside Story and is currently presenting A Current Affair.