Friday, February 13, 2009

the straight tooth

Once upon a time, when I was 4 years old, I tripped on our neighbor's stoop and killed my front tooth. I was also a fiercely addicted thumb-sucker. These two actions resulted in this:

shut up. it was 1976.

When I turned 12 my parents took me to an orthodontist, who promptly rubbed his hands together with glee and insisted on immediate treatment. When we left his office he called his wife and told her to book a 2-week vacation to Hawaii, sponsored by my father. I wore retainers of every imaginable shape and kind--and spent several hours digging through cafeteria garbage bins looking for those damn retainers.

By age 15 I had a straight, dazzling smile, reminiscent of this:

People often asked if I was a first cousin, I had that kind of smile.

My 16th summer I rode my bike to the public library on a drizzly morning. Next thing I knew, I woke up on a gurney in an ambulance with a searing pain across my face. Two of my Cost an Arm and a Leg to Straighten front teeth were gone. Another tooth was dead. The right side of my face looked like ground chuck, my right eyebrow was missing, I had a concussion and a skinned knee. I never knew what my bike looked like because in a weird stroke of fortune, a bike repairman happened upon the scene of my accident and took my bike home to fix it for me.

After my 3-night hospital stay, we met a dentist and an oral surgeon (who also called their wives who then called travel agents). I got to have a root canal, false teeth and crowns. While in college the bridge came undone and I had to get another one installed. So far that bridge has stayed put quite nicely. I've little doubt that my father was furious at buying me replacement teeth paying an orthodontist to straighten my original set.

Sometimes people accuse me of having a fake smile. I find that fact hard to dispute.


  1. i broke my arm coming home from the library on my bike -- in second or third grade. who knew going to the library was so dangerous?

  2. Owwwww. Owwwww.

    If it makes you feel any better, we probably put the Orthodontist's kids through college.
    Both of my kids wore braces for YEARS, wore retainers for YEARS and now in their 20's, they threw away the retainers,and it looks like they NEVER had braces.

    Why didn't I just take the $10,000 and buy a decent car? Or a vacation to Hawaii?

  3. I am beginning to think the British maybe on to something.

  4. In July, our last orthodontist payment will be paid. This has been going on for over 4 years between the two kids. One of them had Phase 1 AND Phase 2. Yeah, more $$$. Our orthodontist drives a really sweet Porsche.

  5. Your face looked like ground chuck and your eyebrow was missing? Plus the teeth damage. OUCH! Holy moly.
    That sounds awful!

  6. Good gracious! You poor thing!
    But the retelling is hilarious!
    You've earned every bit of the fake smile. I hope you wear it proudly.

  7. Oh. My. Word!
    I thought I'd had it bad. I'd had the braces, rubber bands, head gear, retainers and even something "experimental" called "Jasper Jumpers" that were like cables that ran from my lower molar to my upper inscisor. Lots of fun. But at least I didn't knock any of them out after that.

  8. Ouch! I will never look at ground chuck the same again.

    (And by the way, I think the 1976 photo is darned cute!)

    Have a great weekend! - Julia

  9. Hi, I can sympathize. This may be of help for some people out there. A useful directory of orthodontists by state/city.

    Orthodontist Directory

  10. I have a friend from England, (mother of three orthdonically-enhanced children) who once said to me, "if so many people need braces or retainers, maybe we all were actually meant to have crooked teeth."
    There you have it, straight from the mouth of a Brit.

    PS. Green Girl, you are one righteously tough cookie.

  11. I've never had worked done and I was hit by a car while riding my bike.

    My oldest daughter on the other hand, is expediting the retirement of our orthodontist. She is having contraptions that I don't even know what they are. Yup, lots of money going into her mouth. OOOHH and they say things like, "phase phase..." you know that isn't going to be cheap.

  12. With 4 kids we financed a year of college for our Ortho's daughter.

    My son's friend had 8 of his front teeth knocked out be a long-tossed baseball (after coach had called the boys in). 8 teeth gone and they're at $30,000 and counting on his dental work.

  13. Body OWW...and Wallet OWW!

    Sorry Holly - us Brits mostly don't get our teeth fixed for free anymore....only if you are very lucky...most NHS dentists have disappeared.

    We knew a family friend who was a dentist...he had a flash house, and a ENORMOUS swimming pool...outside (this is Britain) was heated to 80 degrees....and he never kept a cover on it - I swear I could see peoples mouths wailing as the steam rose up through the air from it!

  14. Wow! You really have been through the School of Hard Knocks!

  15. Augh! It just sounds excruciating. I can completely commiserate with your orthodontist woes, having worn braces for SIX YEARS myself. So worth it. Let's keep telling Loopy that, shall we?

  16. Lordy, you could swap some tales with my sainted mother.

  17. Oh honey. Bike accidents when we were younger were awful, weren't they? I never wore a helmet. It's amazing I am alive.

    But I love the teeth story. ;-)

  18. My face is sore just READING that story.
    I'll bet your smile is happy and warm.

  19. What a cute little girl :)

    So much bad luck with those teeth.

  20. My youngest had a sledding accident that knocked the dickens out of her front teeth. One went black and then, sort of miraculously, went back to a normal color. She's still got it now, at seven, although the thing is holding on by a thread. It does not want to come out! I guess we should count our blessings!!

  21. I was thinking about you all morning this morning......

    there was an Osmond 50th Anniversary Concert on PBS, and Kitty and I were singing along.

    I saw you leave for church or something (yes, I'm stalking you like I do bare-chested basketball neighbor)...but otherwise I would have called you so you could have tuned in to see your cousins on stage. :)

  22. Yeowch.

    My best friend thought it would be funny to push my face into the spray of water while I was drinking at a water fountain...I went straight through the water and hit the metal spout. So part of my front tooth is fake and has been replaced twice; once due to a beer bottle at a party and once due to an overzealous dental hygenist.

    Here's to fake smiles!

  23. I want a photo of your OSMO-chops!
    You need to go back and read my past post on the DEN of TESTS! It will give you an interesting (spooky) perspective.
    It was so generous of your folks to provide such wonderful vacations and possibly new vehicles for their offspring.

    Sweet Wishes,

  24. I'll keep this in mind this fall when I have to write a check for over $2,000 to Grace's orthodontist for the FIRST installment of her braces. She'll have an even more gorgeous smile than she already does.

    And Ellie goes for her first visit this summer...

  25. I also had a biking accident leaving me with 2 root canals and crowns. I have a fake smile too!

    Luckily though, no hospital stay AND my mom is my dentist (which means that she had to give up a vacation b/c of all my costs....not gain an extra one!


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