Take a bite out of


I had a dentist appointment today. This is also known as a bad day.

The procedure that I need is complicated, expensive, time-consuming, and far too embarrassing to talk about in a blog post.

No, really.

Instead, I am going to use my current oral fixation to talk about teeth, as any good writer should:  using allegory, symbolism, and metaphor.

Teeth issues are some of the most embarrassing to have. Buck teeth, gaps, missing teeth, crooked teeth, or, worst of all, hideously stained teeth, the product of a lifetime of sacredly held vices. Teeth problems steal smiles, thereby siphoning joy. Rather than flash our brokenness, we hide it beneath the veil of sealed lips. Well, most of us.

I have a friend (who will remain unnamed, though it is impossible to embarrass her) who used to play with her flipper during social functions. What is a flipper you ask?



(Kind of looks like something Neil Gaiman would fantasize, doesn’t it? Possibly something cooked up by Coraline’s Other Mother?)

And what kind of social functions? Any.

Church functions, birthday parties, and small groups of friends in intimate settings. She would play with that damn thing whenever the fancy took her, and it took her often; and it didn’t matter how many times you saw it, the sight of someone flipping her tooth back and forth through her lips is disconcerting at best, and very redneck at least.

I have another friend who has teeth dreams. She told me once about a dream she had where broken pieces of her teeth were falling from her mouth, and she was trying to cup them in her hands before they hit the ground.

I’ve read that this signifies change in one’s life. Or insecurity. I think it’s probably a mix of both.

These memories were running through my mind as I sat in the dentist’s office. The hum of the fish tank mixing with the easy listening elevator music. Today was one of the few times I’ve been in a dentist’s office as an adult, and I realized that something changed from when I was a kid.

I remember having my front baby teeth taken out. The dentist knocked me full of drugs, plunged me into a Lethean dream, and when I woke, I was a gapped monstrosity. But I didn’t feel like a monstrosity. Sure, I was slightly embarrassed, but if the same thing happened to me now, I would be devastated. Think about it. Can you imagine Mr. President giving his Cairo speech with no canines?

Something changed. But where is the balance? I think the line has to be somewhere between flippant disregard and nightmarish concern, when it comes to the way we portray ourselves to the world.

But maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Care to take a bite?

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 7:26 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. If I am thinking right about the friend I think I know who the friend is that you are talking about. I believe this person and I were very close and yes this friend did it quite a bit. I am tracking with you on the dentist aspect, I hate them no matter who it is. I have been unfortunate to have bad teeth and so the dentist and I have had many meetings, none of which I would love to remember, yet can’t help remembering.

  2. When I last changed jobs I had “teeth dreams” on a regular basis. My teeth would fall out, rattle around in my mouth before I would finally have to spit them out in my hand. There were some other significant things going on at that time so the change theory resonates with me.

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