Archive for September, 2012

Nitrous

I was in the 4th grade the first time I broke a tooth. I was sitting in Mr. F.’s class, enjoying someone’s birthday cupcake at the end of the day when I randomly chomped into something hard and spit out a piece of a molar.

I hated going to the dentist. Of course, we went to the SDA dentist and I’m sure my mom dealt with endless warnings about my sugar intake, my brushing habits, and her obvious lack of care when it came to my teeth.

Often when we’d drive away from there I’d chew on my numb cheek until it bled.

At 13 I had chubby, round cheeks scarred all over inside and teeth so crooked they could hardly chew. So I met a new kind of dentist – an orthodontist. I lived with a spacer in my mouth for a year that left a permanent scar across my tongue. Then he put braces on my teeth but took them off early because my teeth were rotting out from under them.

The braces came off when I was 16 and I broke the tooth right next to my front tooth off at the root when I was 18. That was my first root canal. 

The next several years were a blur of root canals, uninsured “just have to live with it for now” misfortunes, and toothaches. When my son was a few months old I had a horrible toothache that wouldn’t go away. Finally went to the dentist and found that a previous dentist had done a root canal but a tiny piece of the file had been broken off and left deep in the shaft of the root. That was the first tooth I had pulled aside from my 3 wisdom teeth. It was a first molar, on top, next to the canine. I didn’t smile much by then.

I got a bridge about 18 months later. For a young woman who was 24/25 at the time, it was a long time to feel dirt poor and ugly with a big gaping hole in her smile.

As of now, I’ve had 7 teeth pulled – 3 wisdom teeth, and 4 that were supposed to stick around a while.

I have 6 crowns and 1 bridge. I’m 33 years old.

Some things are hard to swallow. Like all the judgment that happens when people make assumptions about you based on your teeth.

And I believed every judgment everyone ever placed on me based on my teeth for 30 years. I believed that I was a second-rate citizen, that at some level I was poor, dirty, lazy, disgusting, and incapable of rising above my “white-trash” roots.

And then I stopped.

Not without any pitfalls, mind you, but I don’t buy it wholesale anymore.

There will always be those who choose to believe that stretch marks are the fault of the woman who gets them, who make assumptions on your social worth based on how you look, and who will always drive me a little bit crazy.

I have about as much control over the quality and strength of my teeth as I have over the size of my boobs, the way I get stretch marks, how tall (er…short) I am, the texture of my hair, and the strength of my fingernails.

Can I improve upon each of these things? Yes! To a certain degree I can change the attributes of each in positive or negative ways depending on my behavior. But at the deepest level I cannot change the core value.

I. Cannot. Change. The. Core. Value.

Accepting that fact frees me from the guilt that I don’t need to carry around any more. I’ve carried it long enough.

How ridiculous would it be for me to feel guilty because my hair is straight and not curly? Or to feel guilt because I was blessed with big boobs.. oh wait, maybe that’s a bad example. I’ve dealt with a lot of guilt over that for many years, ridiculous as that may seem!

I have bad teeth. They’re brittle. They have very little enamel. They hurt me more than they’ll ever hurt you to have to look at them. There.

So Kiss. My. Ass.

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