I was hit by a car when I was fourteen years old. It was a Saturday. Because my father was the youth pastor, we were going to church to pick up teens for an activity. When we arrived, my then best friend stood across the street in front of the building. She yelled out my name, and without a second thought, I darted into traffic.
As the story goes, the car hit me, my body flew up in the air, and I landed on the man’s windshield.
I awoke in a Northwestern Memorial Hospital bed the next day. Aside from being unconscious and sore, I had also chipped my front tooth. Out of all the details my mother, the nurse, and best friend relayed, missing about twenty-five percent of my front tooth is what filled my eyes with tears.
Consequently, every five years, since I was fourteen, I’ve gotten a filling for just that part of my front tooth. It’s been a lifelong hassle. Some years, shading was either too off-white or not white enough, leaving that one tooth in a mismatched contrast. Other years, I didn’t have enough money to get it re-done and had to suffer the coffee stains that remained. Some years, the tooth was too short or too long.
The last time I had it re-filled was 2017. Not only was the shading off, but the dentist had shaped the tooth to be facing to the right.
That’s when I decided to find a new dentist.
“If you want it to look perfect,” new dentist said, “you’ll have to get a crown. That way, it’ll be computer generated and you can get custom shading, so it’ll match your other teeth.” “Plus,” he continued, “you can’t keep getting this filled. It’s deteriorating.”
I saved my money and made my appointment for November 30th. I carefully chose this date because classes would be ending, and I would have the semester break to get used to a crown.
As I lie in the chair, I knew I’d made a bit of a mistake.
I didn’t realize the dentist had to file down most of my tooth. This is standard, so the crown will fit over it. I should’ve googled the process ahead of time.
I knew I’d have a temporary crown for three weeks, but I didn’t know it could fall off, which is exactly what happened.
Not having a front tooth was stressful. Dwight and I have been together since 1993. Last month is the first time he’d seen me without a front tooth. Hell, it was the first time I’d seen myself toothless. And let me tell you, having a little baby tooth right in the front of your mouth creates a black hole only fit for hockey players and such.
The second time it fell off, I was with a friend. Though I was embarrassed, I was grateful we were at her house and not at a public restaurant.
The third time it fell off, I was tired. I’d been so stressed about not having a tooth that I couldn’t sleep, and when I did, I awoke with a pain on the right side of my mouth from where I’d been grinding all night. So, I just left it off until my appointment arrived.
December 15th, I received the permanent crown. Let me tell you something. It’s beautiful. It’s the best tooth I’ve ever had since I was fourteen.
But it’s different. It feels like a foreign object in my mouth.
I’m a tad bit traumatized from the temporary and don’t really want to bite into anything, so it takes me twice as long to finish a meal these days. Jamie, the dental assistant, who’s become my bestie at the office has assured me it’s fine and the tooth will not fall off.
I can feel a slight space between the crown and the back of my actual tooth, but again, Jamie took a picture, showed it to me, and explained that it’s fine. According to her, the dentist will not attach it to my gum line because it may cause irritation and gum disease.
This. Feels. Weird.
So, yeah. This is one of those rare times where I feel as if I’ve made a huge mistake. Instead of seeking to have the perfect tooth, I should’ve sought some level of acceptance of my imperfect smile that only I seemed to have noticed all these years.
Yep. I think that’s the lesson here.
Do you have a crown? Implants? Dentures? An area of your body you wish looked a little different? Let me know about your experience in the comments, while I adjust to this, um, new situation.