The Pandemic and My Dental Shame (Part One: The Backstory)

posted in: Confessions, Day In The Life 7
Pictured: Dentures in process. I only hope I can afford a pair of my own. Image: Wikipedia.


I don’t remember how old I was when my permanent teeth came in, but I watched in horror as they did.

Aside from the trauma of losing all the damn teeth out of my head — can we all appreciate how bizarre that is? — my two front teeth arrived with weird marks on them. I remember being told these harmless whitish marks were calcium deposits, but that’s not correct. I’ll have to confirm it with my dentist, but I believe my teeth were discolored by the fluoride in the water I drank as a kid. My two sisters drank the same water and both of them have a couple tiny spots on one or two bottom teeth, but they didn’t get big ones on their incisors like I did. Do not assume that I was being dramatic when I wailed about my emerging situation. Once they had fully emerged, classmates whispered about my weird teeth and little kids were not shy in asking what was wrong with them/me. I was embarrassed and ashamed.

If my mother hadn’t appreciated how hard it was for me and saved up enough money to get me veneers when I was a freshman in high school, things would have been very different for our family. Rather than a vivacious, standard-issue teenager, I’d have spent four years covering my face with long, dyed-black hair. I’d have listened to Morrissey and Kate Bush exclusively, and I’d have smoked a pack of clove cigarettes every day and hated absolutely everyone except my poet boyfriend who I was in love with, okay, and who loved me for me, Mom, despite the cursed teeth that are obviously your fault and I will never, ever, ever smile again! You can’t make me! I hate this family!

In other words, I would have been the coolest goth chick in the known universe. But I still would have hated my teeth.

The veneers I got in high school lasted about 10 years. At some point in my twenties, my dentist in Chicago recommended we replace them and he did not have to tell me twice. From the moment the first set was cemented down, I have lived in fear that one or both of my veneers will pop off my teeth while I’m eating an apple (or something.) And when — not if — they do, I’ll surely find my teeth have rotted away underneath, and I’ll have to get them yanked out entirely and replaced with implants that have to be screwed into my gums and this will be painful and horrible. I will die with two metal stubs where my front two teeth should be because I will not be able to afford having them fixed, for in this nightmare scenario I have somehow become poor and destitute. Children will run screaming from me when I attempt to smile at them and when I try to speak, the only thing that comes out is a creepy whistle sound. I’ll be a scary, toothless, metal-stubbed mute washerwoman, shuffling along the alleyways of Chicago, hiding my toothless shame. This dental anxiety is and will always be in the back of my mind.

Eric and I were on the couch watching a movie when it happened. Not the washerwoman part: the busted veneer part.

It was summertime, and we were having a snack. We weren’t eating apples. We were eating caramel popcorn and you can just stop right there. I know as well as anyone with dental work that caramel popcorn is and will always be forbidden.

Well, I’m a rebel. A caramel-corn-loving, doomed, dentally malformed rebel who lives in fear. And that terrible day in July, this rebel was forced to face that fear. And it sucked.

*Tune in next time for Part Two of the story, in which I discover what my front tooth looks like after 20+ years of being concealed and how the pandemic was kind of okay for a few days.  

7 Responses

  1. Barbara
    | Reply

    Waiting for part II!!

  2. Mags
    | Reply

    Oh I feel for you! I lost the crown from my implant last week. Two days of hell – thank goodness for masks!
    But … your veneers look so natural!

  3. Jane Sanders
    | Reply

    i was on my way to the annual conference for the association that i was the executive director. Bit into a crusty bun egg salad sandwich and just as the light turn red just before the onramp to the highway … yep my two front teeth fell off from the bridge. OmG – I can’t go to this big event like this. turned around, took out my blackberry and called my dentist. He referred me to an emerg denturist and 4 hours late I was on my way.
    Not sure my boss really believed me that i had a tooth fall out.

    I feel your pain Mary!

  4. Charlotte
    | Reply


  5. Marjim
    | Reply

    True story- last Wednesday, at new Dentist ( old one retired) for 1st Post -Covid cleaning and She looks in and says… 1- “ Your mouth is a Dental Museum! ( LOL- she’s right!). 2- “You’re really gonna put me to work today! End result… New Crown and Veneers needed for bottom Front teeth ( Sigh). Best wishes for your upcoming Dental adventure! Jim

  6. Grammy Judy
    | Reply

    For some strange cyber space reason I do not get all your emails so I have spent the better part of my morning reading your archived posts. Keep them coming

  7. […] Anyway, Eric and I committed to wearing boring, normal, well-constructed masks. We loathed them as much as anyone. But it all changed on that fateful day two summers ago when my veneer popped off my left tooth. […]

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