Sunday, October 31, 2010


let's go back about thirty years.  i have long blonde hair with chunky bangs and large glasses.  i am shy but not shy enough to keep myself quiet.  i have one older brother who torments me endlessly- it's his way of showing love, i'm sure- hence the chunky bangs which he cut for me.  i have headaches most of the time.

i also have a smile full of smallish looking teeth that are firmly determined not to fall out and make way for the big ones.  i will have my last baby teeth pulled from my head in middle school.  stubborn is more than a disposition with me.  and it isn't until dentists start to question my slow-to-go teeth that they realize something is missing from my mouth.

lateral incisors.  both of them.  these are the teeth right next to your front teeth- between them and your canine.  my teeth had been evenly spaced and so no one noticed i didn't have these teeth.  my dad promptly blamed my mom's side of the family.

what then happened was years of braces.  years of them.  i actually remember the orthodontist removing all of the hardware and then reinstalling it a week later- all for the sake of insurance coverage.  the plan was simple- make space for where the incisors should be and then....well, go from there.

when i was 18ish, the go from there plan was two marilyn bridges.  which means they take the perfectly normal teeth and dig out the back of them, glue some metal brace-like things behind them with a fake tooth in the middle.  this is what we did.  i remember the technology of implants- where they surgically place a rod into your jaw bone and then built a crown onto that was experimental and not covered by insurance.  the life span of a marilyn bridge was about 10 years.  whenever i say "marilyn bridge" i think of marilyn monroe.  and then that elton john song starts in my head.

well, turns out the bridges lasted a bit longer.  in 2001, when barely pregnant with seren, the bridge on the right side broke during thanksgiving diner at ben's mom's house.  i remember i was eating this fancy pumpkin-stuffed filo triangles i had made.  the tooth broke and i looked hideous.  the fake tooth had just broken off from the metal bridge- so it just looked like i had a very rotten tooth right in the front of my mouth.  i remember the smell of the glue as the dentist glued the tooth back on.  it cost about $50 to have it fixed.

a few years later the entire bridge came out.  strangely i do not remember this at all.  i know i worked at the co-op because that halloween i dressed up as a rodeo clown- complete with pink wig and leather cowgirl hat.  the missing tooth added to the ensemble.

when it came to replacing the tooth my options hadn't changed much.  bridge or implant- neither were covered by insurance...still.  uw dental school told me that in order to have an implant i'd have to be in braces for a few years first.  there was some new technology in the world of bridges- which means an all porcelain bridge could be made.  which is good because metal conducts.  with so much metal in my mouth it was uncomfortable to drink really hot or really cold beverages.  plus i could sometimes hear radio signals if i wore cold necklaces.

turns out the bridge was spendy. could buy a good used car or travel comfortably through europe or live for several years in many third world countries.  fortunately, my dad paid for it.

there's a bit of irony here.  my dad blamed my mom's family for the missing tooth- and yet he paid to have it cosmetically replaced.  without the tooth- i looked....hillbilly-ish.  (that's the stereotype we have of people who don't have teeth- and guess what?  it's because dental care is expensive.) which is definitely from his side of the family.  not to say that my mom doesn't have that somewhere- it's just far enough in the past where we don't know about it.  my dad, however, grew up in rural ohio.  he tells me about drowning the barn cats in the creek and watching the chickens eat the baby mice from the nest under the feeder bowl.

speaking of missing teeth.  people react differently to you.  few people will actually ask what happened- even if they see you on monday with a full set of teeth and on tuesday with one gone.  i have found that usually it's children who will say with a horrified look on their faces "what happened to your tooth?!"  and it's really hard to be honest in that moment.  i admit- sometimes it just so entertaining to lie to children- another trait i picked up from my dad...and my mom, come to think of it...and so i often would tell them i got in a bar fight or the tooth fairy was desperate or i didn't brush my teeth.  plus, what 7 year old wants to hear about my dental history? 

kudos to you for sticking with this so far.

turns out- on friday- my left bridge gave away.  came out as i was driving.  no doubt on monday or tuesday the dentist will give me the same speech he did 5 years back.  this time around i think i'll be toothless for a while longer, so i've begun to think about possible temporary teeth replacement options.  beewax doesn't stick well to teeth, so i've been thinking about a fake tooth to wedge in there.  seren did offer me a pomegrante seed this morning to try.  he's been very supportive and in his honest-abe way.  he admits that i look hideous but doesn't keep him from loving me. 

i'm toying with carving a wedge out of bone, covering it gold  and putting a diamond in the  middle of it.   i think i could carry that look well.

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