A Future of No Smiles

4:17 AM

Sometime toward the end of last semester, I started dreaming reoccurring nightmares. College stress. It’s killer. My cracked psyche thought it too commonplace to conjure up terrifying dreams about never attending a class you apparently signed up for at the beginning of the school year or getting to work late because you couldn’t find pants (wait…that actually happened). No, it wanted to go the extra mile to prove to me that I needed a break—hence, the losing teeth phenomenon. Mouthfulls of them. That feeling of pushing your tooth to the top of your mouth with your tongue? Multiply that by however-many-teeth adults are supposed to have.

So many mornings I woke up paralyzed from the fear that I was now toothless. I’d reach a hand up to my mouth just to verify that—thank goodness—there was no gap in my smile. Can you imagine that? A twenty-year-old college kid sporting a snaggletooth grin?

I think, deep down, one of my biggest fears is pulling out an adult tooth and having a permanent gap. And then I’d have to wear dentures at age twenty. At least, apparently this is one of my biggest fears—if the nightmares prove anything. If nightmares do anything good to the soul, they taught me to be so, so grateful that in reality, all my adult teeth grew in, and I will certainly never need dentures until I’m in my sixties.

Except that, well, they didn’t all grow in.

My dentist started with the normal small talk: “Let me see your left hand. After every Christmas, we check girls’ left hands to see if they picked up any hardware. No? Good. Here’s your adult lecture for today: marriage is a big step. The worst reason for getting married is that everybody else is doing it. You take your time.”

Then he showed me the x-ray: I have a baby tooth. Right in the front. If it ever falls out, I’ll need two years of braces to haul the adult tooth into place.

“You’d definitely want the braces. You wouldn’t want a big gap there.”

In the words of my baby sister, Oh, my cheesecake. NO.

“I can’t tell you if it’ll fall out or not. Some people are in their fifties and sixties when it falls out.”

Add that to my daily prayer list.

I just couldn’t imagine pulling a tooth in college. It’d be like twenty going on six-years-old: “Hey, roomie, I pulled my last tooth!” Unless I couldn’t pull it by myself, and had to road trip back to my house for my dad to joke about his fish-gut pliers. Do I put it under my pillow, hope I get a huge wad of money? Such emotional trauma deserves remuneration in tens and twenties and maybe hundreds. Enough to pay for two years of braces and a chocolate shake.

What would I tell people? “Yeah, so, I punched a deer in the face. He replied in kind. You know, no big deal.” Or maybe, “I was bench pressing and dropped the dumbbell. It landed perfectly on this one tiny tooth.”

Nobody would buy it. They know I couldn’t bench press anything or aim a punch to save my life—or my ego. No, I’d just have to tell them the truth: I pulled my last baby tooth out as a junior in college. Goodbye, because I have to decide between braces and my senior year of school.

I frantically texted my boyfriend that my whole life might be jeopardized in the very near future. He calmly replied, “Might as well take it out now and get braces so that they are off before you get married.”

Married? I forgot about this—the photos, eternalized all over Facebook. Every time I’d take down my wedding album, the children wouldn’t think, “Aw, Mommy and Daddy were so cute!” They’d think, “Poor Mom. It’s like a substitute prom photo.” This is payback for how great I looked in my senior year photos—the decade where perms and scrunchies were not a thing, the year I figured out how to coordinate colors, the month I finally let my mom buy me makeup. (We won’t discuss junior year photos. Or sophomore. Or—no. We’re done talking about this.)

Who wears braces at a wedding? Google it. Just Google it. Pictures of perfect, braces-free smiles. Nobody wears braces as a bride.

He kept texting me: “You would look like a thirteen-year-old adolescent at the altar and would slur your words.”

Oh, please, no more. That image—

“‘I’m sorry, could you repeat your vows? And this time not slur?’”

Dreams really do come true. Especially nightmares.

I must tell you this real threat to my self-esteem, dear readers. If I stop blogging for longer than a semester’s length, it’s because I started living as a cave hermit with no wi-fi. (There’s no one to smile at in a cave. Except bats. And rocks. Wait, why would I smile at a rock?)

I read somewhere that dreaming of losing teeth meant I was subconsciously worried about aging. No, not I. I’m worried about reverting back to my elementary years, apparently. That, or my dreams have just become eerily prophetic. Bring on the dentures.

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3 impressions

  1. I'm sorry about your crisis. Just remember that EVERYONE has some quirk or insecurity they don't like about their body. You know, worst comes to worse, if your tooth comes out right before your wedding day you could buy wear a fake tooth. More people than you might think have missing teeth, because it is quite easy to fill them in artificially. And I also know quite a few older women who wear braces with grace.

    You are a lovely writer by the way!

  2. Well. This is certainly an *interesting* post. :-)

    I've had that dream about my teeth falling out a couple times. Awful.

    A baby tooth not falling out must be more common than I thought. My daughter is 14 and has a baby tooth with no adult tooth beneath it. I'm surprised no-one mentioned this to you before. I think my daughter sometimes worries about it falling out and leaving a gap too, but she usually doesn't tell me about it, and never in as amusing a story as yours.

    Side note: Have your wisdom teeth come in and/or been pulled? Mine started to come in my freshman year in college. If yours are coming in it could be causing your subconscious to dwell on what's going on in your mouth. Seriously! Side note to the side note - if your wisdom teeth haven't come in yet I wonder if losing this remnant baby tooth could make enough room in your mouth that you wouldn't need your wisdom teeth pulled. Or maybe your wisdom teeth would come in and force the other teeth over closing any gap caused by losing the baby tooth! One way or another you will smile again, I'm sure. ;-)


  3. Dr. Sus -- THAT IS BRILLIANT. And so much better than braces.

    Adele -- That is so bizarre and probably accurate, because none of my wisdom teeth are in yet. My poor brain finds the weirdest things to dwell on.


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