When I was about ten my loving sister tripped me on the sidewalk and I fell. Normal people’s reaction to such an occurrence would be to fall upon one’s hands. This is reflex.
Instead, I fell on my face. My teeth, to be more specific. And my left front tooth suffered trauma, the bottom half breaking off.
For several years after the incident my sister denied ever having tripped me, citing my quite obvious clumsiness as the reason for my fall. I knew the truth, however, and clung to that until she finally admitted it when we were in high school.
Anyway, I had to go to a special dentist to determine whether or not my injured tooth had a living nerve and could be saved. If not, they’d pull the dead one out and give me a plastic beaut to replace it. But it was alive, a fact ascertained by the special dentist placing ice cubes against my tooth and gums and stabbing them with needles to see if I would feel anything. Crying in the chair from excruciating pain, I did indeed feel something.
When I went to my normal dentist to get the fake half of my tooth put on, I was mostly just excited to get out of school early for the event. When I sat in the chair and the dentist peered into my mouth, he asked me, “So, have you decided what color tooth you want?”
I panicked, not realizing that I had a say in such a thing and began to scramble for a choice.
“Purple?” he asked, chuckling.
“Uh, uh.. sure.” I said, figuring that a purple tooth could be kind of cool.
“I’m kidding,” he said, grinning at my red-faced self. “We’re going to match it to the rest of your tooth so no one will ever know that it’s fake.”
I was mildly disappointed, but didn’t say anything.
Years later as my teeth began to become ever so slightly yellow from a committed relationship with coffee, I tried to whiten my teeth. And one tooth turned whiter, and one seemed to almost get darker in comparison. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t whiten the fake part and I was doomed to live my life with yellow teeth (or one yellow tooth among white ones... too horrifying to consider).
Meanwhile, as the battle of my front tooth was waged, another sad fact became evident in my young life: my adult teeth were far from normal. In fact, they were horrifying. My canine teeth stuck out beyond the rest of their neighbors giving my smile a decidedly vampire-esque look. I had fangs that hung over my bottom lip, delighting classmates in elementary school as they asked me repeatedly to show them my fangs again and again. For a while I liked the attention, much like I liked the attention given to me for my third front tooth. But this time that grew old. Twlight and True Blood hadn’t made vampires cool yet, and I wasn’t ready to start the trend all by my scrawny self. I needed braces.
When I was eleven and my sister was thirteen my mother brought us both to the orthodontist knowing that there was no realistic way of paying for both of us to have braces at the same time. She was quite aware, however, of how terrifyingly odd her younger daughter’s mouth was, and was going to see what they could do for me in the meantime.
When my mother met with the orthodontist after he examined us both, he looked at her, concerned. “I don’t normally do this...” he began. He told her that he would offer her a special payment plan to allow her to pay for my braces after she was done paying for my sister’s, but we both could get them at the same time.
Yes, a man who fixed crooked teeth for a living, now in the twilight years of his career, was so startled by my teeth’s arrangement that he offered special monetary planning so I could seek help early.
Four years later, after countless trips to the orthodontist’s office, my braces were removed. I had a normal smile. The end of this post is far from entertaining (because really, normalcy has no place here) but, at least, it is redemptive. Moral of the story? Even though the gene pool has dealt you a heavy blow you may have the hope of someday being fixed through years of painful procedures. And then, after all of that, your wisdom teeth will come in, ruining it all.