Monday, December 6, 2010

All I Want For Buddhakamas* Is My Two Front Teeth

When I was ten years old I ran into a wood chair and knocked out my front tooth.

I also cracked the other front tooth, but it didn't fall out or fall apart. The trauma of the impact also killed two of my teeth. As you can imagine, this one childhood accident has resulted in a lot of time in a dentist's chair. There have been lots of surgeries and procedures, and not enough Novocaine.

And now I'm going to a cosmetic dentist on Thursday to deal with an almost thirty-year-old injury.

To say I'm nervous about it is somewhat of an understatement. I know it's high time I do something about the damage that's been done and the dental work that needs replacing. But I've put it off for so long because my phobia is so strong. I don't know how sensitive dentists were to children's pain 30 years ago. Perhaps my dentist was a sadist? I don't know.

Whatever the case, I've preferred to try and hide my smile for years rather than get my teeth fixed. So strong is my phobia that I cover my mouth when I laugh rather than sit in a dentist's chair. But I'm tired of hating my smile and it's time I do something about it. Right?

Funny how this childhood accident has stayed with me for so long. Even when it happened I knew the seriousness of what I'd done. At ten years old, I was well aware that these were my adult teeth and that I could not grow new teeth. I knew I had ruined my smile for life.

Knew it.

At ten years old I learned regret.

I laid in bed and prayed to god to send me back in time so I could re-do that night. I prayed that I could have one more chance to opt out of playing tag or Ghost in the Graveyard or whatever game we were playing in my friend's basement that night.

I wished with my whole heart to go back and change something that I couldn't. The damage was irreversible and I knew it. Oh, how I struggled with it at ten, and how I have struggled with that self-same issue as an adult.

How many other permanent mistakes/changes/events would I experience as the years went by? Life lessons, all of them. I see my son's same heartache when he breaks a toy. He is quick to ask for the Superglue to fix it, and I so understand that desire — that urgent need to fix it.

And then the day will come when he realizes it can't be fixed.

Or maybe it can? Maybe some thirty years later you'll have an opportunity to fix it. If you're brave enough, that is. I guess I've been torn between accepting myself as I am versus fixing what can (and should be) fixed. I don't think fake teeth were meant to last 20 years or so, and if I want my teeth to last for more years, I need to do something about them. So I've been torn between fear of the dentist, the lofty goal of self-acceptance, and the desire to smile and laugh unselfconsciously.

We'll see how badly I want that smile back.

Although I do have some reservations about looking like Matt Dillon's character Healy in There's Something About Mary. You know, when he misunderstands that Mary likes guys with "big teeth" and he gets a bunch of enormous fake teeth installed?

I don't want to look like that.

*Buddhakamas is an entirely made-up holiday (of my own imagining) in order to satisfy my over-the-top love of Santa Claus, Christmas trees and presents.


  1. I once had a friend that covered her mouth when she laughed/smiled for YEARS because of some serious damage that a drug addiction had done.

    Her getting her front tooth fixed changed everything for her. Of course, she had other issues, but hey! she had a great smile!

    Dentists have changed dramatically since I was a child. Just remember: ALWAYS GET THE GAS.


  2. Pearl: I'm going in with that mantra now. Thank you.

  3. Your sister did the same, YEARS after her accident, and after her teeth were once again, gorgeous.

    Nothing wrong with wanting nice teeth. Hell, you use them your entire life (if you're lucky.) It isn't vain.

    Dentists have come a long way in pain management, too.

  4. I was in an accident when I was 19 and lost my 3 front teeth. :(
    I had a brilliant dentist .. thank you god.
    Before the teeth were knocked out, they were crooked, Ali McGraw teeth. Most people thought I had a cute smile, I hated it.
    I have been so much happier and smile SO BIG since losing the crooked teeth.. the way I lost them was not that much of a treat but the end result has been good.
    Gas, yes, always ask for Gas.

  5. I got invisiline a few years ago to fix my crooked teeth and have been so much happier with my smile since. I'm SO glad I had it done. It's totally worth it. I'm sure they do much better things for the pain than they did years ago. Lots of places even offer light sedation!

  6. There are parts of all of us that are broken and could use replacing once in awhile. I hope Santa Buddha gives you your wish.

  7. Good Luck with the new teeth, Mandy. I'm sure your new smile will simply make you more beautiful.

  8. @Soobs: We're both guilty of avoiding various medical professionals because of our phobias. I've gotten over my doctor phobia, this is just one more to add to the list.

    @a Broad: Thanks for the encouragement. It helps! And I'm sensing a (gas) theme...

    @Jules: I'm really hoping I might be a candidate for the Invisalign....light sedation sounds good!

    @Mobius: I'm glad my broken parts are replaceable.

    @Pina: Thanks, Pina. I think I could manage to smile more.

  9. Go for it. There's nothing like being able to relax and laugh!

  10. I feel on my face when I was 23 and knocked my front teeth out. It was very painful getting them fixed, but they dentist did a great job. I still do laugh w/ my hand over my mouth.

  11. Haha I'm sure you won't look like Healy! I have messed up teeth - couldn't get braces as a kid because the roots of my teeth were so small the dentist thought they might break off. So my mid-line is all Tom Cruise off-center. It's upsetting. But I've been this way so long I think I'll probably just stick with it. It may give me an in if I ever decide to join the church of Scientology... Good luck in the chair!

  12. Can I steal your fake teeth AND your fake holiday? (I'm planning my Buddakamas sign already; it's no use saying no.)

    GO FOR IT. I've seen your smile and the slight imperfection is appealing, in my eyes, but if you can get your tooth/teeth done and it will make your back straighter and your smile huge, gun the happy gas and get 'er done!

  13. I admire your courage! I currently have some awful messed up teeth stemming from an intense 2-year addiction to Pepsi and an equally insane fear of the Dentist. (I think I partially blame Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors for that).
    Out of all the things I've done in my life, neglecting my smile is the one thing I wish I could go back and erase.
    I'm blessed enough to be getting a lot of second chances lately and this is one thing that I would love to fix. The potential cost is scaring the heck out of me but I know in the end I will be so glad.
    I am sure that you will come out looking and feeling better than ever and it will take weeks for you to stop grinning from ear to ear!

  14. I was born with the congenital defect [insurance company speak for not covering a $3000 procedure] of missing an adult tooth on the left side of my mouth. When I was 28, my valiant baby tooth gave it up and had to be removed, my dentist talked me into a tooth implant. It was an arduous process, but I'm glad I did it over the other options. Granted, this tooth is not visible when I smile, but you might look into the implant route, they help preserve the structural integrity of your jawbone. My greatest fear was that that tooth might somehow be linked to my youthful puckish outlook on life, turns out being male accounts for most of that. So, good luck with the teeth, and remember memory wipe/sedation is a viable option for most people nowadays. I didn't opt for it with my procedure and I suffered little discomfort, but I'm a big strong macho type... I just guzzled some Jack and made the best of it.

  15. Like doctors, I have found dentists to be quite compassionate.
    Ask questions. Tell them your fears.

    Ten to one he or she will take the time to address your concerns and put you at ease.

    They'll explain each step as they progress through the procedure, which removes the component of the unknown.

    And that's where the fear lives.

  16. Eva: Yes. Life's too short to not do that.

    Bird Shinola: Falling on your face sucks. I'm glad I gave it up.

    Mel Heth: Midline? Off-center? I don't even know what language you're speaking, but I'm going to google it and Tom Cruise and see what I find out.

    See Kate Run: My holiday is open for all worshippers. I was hoping it would take off like Kwanza.

    Ophelia: Ha. I actually linked the sadistic dentist in the blog.

    Cary: I'm not sure they'll do implants for four teeth, all of which are securely attached to my jawbone as it is. Gah. I'd just like a nice bridge or something like that.

    La Piazza: The fear is not of the unknown but of the known: pain.

  17. When I was a kid, my dentist was a nearly blind, old war surgeon. We're talking Korean War here. Maybe even a World War. Simply put, he was rough. For that reason as an adult I did a lot of research when looking for my new dentist. My requirements were simple: knock me out or give me enough novocaine to numb a horse. Seek and ye shall find. Go get 'em, Ms.

    P.S. I think Buddhakamas is a brilliant idea. You can never have too many holidays in my book.

  18. I had to have two of my wisdom teeth out...while I was living in Guatemala...and awake.

    Now I need a designated driver when I go to the dentist. Legal drugs are the best.

    Whooeeee, you're gonna be stunning!

  19. That is one of my worst fears.. the Dentist. I posted my dental horror stories here and here a while back.

    The issue of going back in time and "fixing" things comes up often for me. I should probably devote a post to just that as I have commented on other's blogs before. Anyway, thanks for making me cringe.

  20. However you need to over come. If a sit in the dentist will help, then I wish you the best. I have another friend who always covers her mouth. I've seen her laugh with her teeth showing, doesn't make a difference. But having her hand over her mouth is like this cute little thing she does too. Either way, I'm sure you'll turn out (even more) stunning.

  21. When I still had my baby teeth, my brother and I were jumping off the top of our dresser drawer onto the bed and my brother sort of pushed me off the top and I knocked both front teeth out when my face hit the wall. I had to walk around with both teeth missing for a long time until the permanent ones grew in. My sister knocked one of her adult teeth out when she was a kid.I just had a lower molar extracted and I am getting an implant rod screwed into my jaw for a permanent cap . I absolutely hate going to the dentist. My childhood dentist introduced me to fear. I chose to be IV sedated and it was great. You don't even remember going to sleep. The prick of the needle in my arm was the only thing I remember and when I woke he was showing me the tooth he just yanked out. Painless. Try IV sedation, its around 375 dollars but well worth having peace of mind regarding a major dental procedure.

  22. I wanted to let you know after my front baby teeth were knocked out prematurely the two front teeth came in crooked. They stuck out making me feel like I had goofy teeth. They were not as bad as my mind imagined them to be . I never had braces and I always felt my two front teeth stuck out too far. So I decided to do something about it and had braces when I was 25, and had my two front teeth fixed. My smile is still goofy but I don't feel like a chipmunk anymore.

  23. Christina's World: That sounds exactly what a dentist is in my head. Merry Buddhakamas!

    Chantel: Sweet Buddhakamas! Awake? I woke up during my wisdom tooth extraction when I was allegedly under "Twilight." Screw Twilight, gimme Midnight.

    Robert the Skeptic: Just so long as I made an emotional connection, even if it's disgust, my work is done.

    Ad Astra: Now that you mention it, I wonder if I'll be able to stop? It may be a permanent feature.

    The Last Santa: $375? Sold! To the blonde lady clutching her pearls.