Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why My British Teeth Have Kept Me Wise

In honor of St. Patrick's Day today, I'm going to talk about the obviously proper thing: how the British have wronged me. Specifically, my teeth.

I have a pretty good amount of English blood in me (ack! ack! I know.) which is constantly at odds with my Scottish blood. I often wake up in the middle of the night, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, spreading blue paint on half my face.

The most obnoxious thing about my English heritage are my teeth. You know how those Austen-esque books say things like, "She's the most beautiful woman on the estate! And those teeth, my word!" Yeah. That's because what they say is true: the British are born with terrible teeth. One look into my mouth is enough to make an oral surgeon giggle with glee.

Don't believe me? The last time I was at the dentist, she said they only see my teeth in textbooks. Textbooks.

First, before you start judging me and imagining me like some kind of Chinese Crested, I did have braces. So most of my teeth are straight as an arrow. Except for one, which got out of place because I didn't wear my bottom retainer. And yes, if I could go back in time 10 years and slap my 15-year-old self in the face, I would. Trust me. 15-year-old Emily has a lot of reasons to be smacked in the face anyway. So, minus my one snaggle tooth, which the fellas don't seem to mind, I have lovely teeth.


I smile and the dentist thinks, "Ah, we've got a simple one here. I'll be in and out in five minutes." And then she asks me to open, and it becomes that scene from Psycho. She's clutching her cheeks and screaming, there are violins screeching, and the Dentist's helper is stabbing me with a knife (well, my gums anyway,) going, "See here?! AND HERE?! Can you believe this, Dr. Novocaine?"

The problem with my face is that I inherited a small mouth from my mother and my teeth from my father. Which essentially means I have teeth that need a lot of space, and a mouth that has none to give.

Since I've showed you my amazing Photoshop skills yesterday, and I feel like I'm on a roll, I'm going to do another one.

In case you don't know what you are looking at, That tooth on the far right is sideways. And it is ruthlessly pushing my molar in such a way that, try as it may, it cannot escape and break the gum line. So, clearly, the wisdom teeth have got to go. If not for my sake, for that poor little molar which has never seen sunlight. It's like the Harry Potter of molars.

*Pause for Harry Potter 7a in theaters this summer.*

Okay so some time in college, my mom and I finally made our way down to the oral surgeon to get that sucker out of there. He did some x-rays and came back with a worried look on his furrowed brow.

What he told me is:

1. The teeth are intertwined with a vital nerve. And if he tugs them the wrong way, I might lose feeling in my face. GOOD SWEET LORD. I started sitting up and gathering my things, saying, "Welp! Thanks anyway, Doc!", but my mom pushed me back down. "Wait, the doctor isn't done yet."

2. Those two teeth have never come up yet. So where they are now is actually embedded in my jaw bone. Which means if taken out, there will be very little jaw bone left. They would have to wire my jaw shut, and hope that my jaw would grow itself back.



My mom and I pumped the oral surgeon's hand furiously and skedaddled out of there so fast, there were probably clouds of smoke in the shape of our bodies still left in the office.

When I went back to the dentist to tell him the news, he shook his head, rubbed his chin and said, "Yes, well, I still think you should get them taken out. I mean, if you lose one more tooth on that side, you're not going to have very many left to chew with."

SIR. I'm not sure if you understand what is going on here. There is a possibility of me walking around with a Hannibal Lector jaw trap for the rest of my life AND I might lose all feeling on one side of my face which will inevitably make people call me Droopy and cause my tongue to loll about my face, probably poking through my Lector Mouth Cage.

And you are worried that, just in case I am suddenly from rural Arkansas and teeth start dropping out of my face left and right, I might not be able to CHEW ADEQUATELY?!

I packed up my things, grabbed my free floss, snatched one of those rubber monster finger puppets with the wiggly arms, and marched out of there with my head held high. And I never went back.

Which was probably a terrible idea because now I have a much greater likelihood of one of my other teeth ACTUALLY falling out, having not been to the dentist in years.

Actually, I did go to a different dentist once after that. After my team was laid off, we all went over to the same dentist to get a teeth cleaning before our insurance ran out. This dentist was the one who told me that my teeth belonged in textbooks. When I told her what the oral surgeon said, she shook her head, rubbed her chin and said, "Well, it's dangerous to have your teeth below the gum line because if one of them cracks, it could get infected and then you'd have some REAL problems."

Oh, shit. Well, that actually sounds much scarier than "you'd chew weird." I asked the dentist how it might happen that I'd crack one of those teeth.

"Well, if you bite down on something too hard with that part of your mouth."

Everyone take a look at that picture I drew again. Those teeth are currently under the gum line. On what day am I going to start trying to GUM a jawbreaker back there? What the hell is WRONG with these dentists? Do they not understand the severity of WIRING A LIFELESS JAW INTO PLACE UNTIL THE DAY I DIE?!

This dentist said that she would ask her oral surgeon friend about my x-rays and get his opinion. Go for it, lady. But I'm sorry, the oral surgeon I went to was not from Tanzania. He was an accredited doctor in the suburbs of Illinois, with a VERY authentic-looking name tag. So I don't imagine that his opinion was some big crock. He wasn't telling me that Satan was coming for me and if I didn't drink this tea made of basil and elephant dung I would die. He was telling me that there are serious repercussions for removing some teeth that seem to be doing just fine where they are. And if there is one single surgeon in the entire world that is giving me that advice, I am going to follow it to the letter.

So you see, on this holy day of celebrating the patron saint of drinking, I wish to raise my glass to you, Oral Surgeon From God. For saving me from becoming a Droopy Hannibal Lector, yes. But also for forcing me to come to terms with my British heritage. Well, my British teeth anyway. May they stay in my mouth forever and ever. Amen.


Hannah said...

you are the reason why mom asked me day after day if I was wearing my retainer. And occasionally still asks me.

Well you are one reason. There is also Katie... and John really, too. But you and Katie are the snagglers.

Emily said...

And you. Are. Welcome.

Liketohike said...

It's true, I am also the proud owner of a snaggle tooth. And Emily, your story is very timely. No dentist has ever said a word to me about my wisdom teeth. I am going to the dentist a week from tomorrow, and I am scared!

mom said...

you forgot to mention that somewhere in that mouth you also have a baby tooth with no adult tooth to replace it (thanks again to those fine genetics. It will eventually fall out and you'll get to have a titanium post or some such thing.

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Enter Shikari said...

British people don't have bad teeth. Thats a retarded stereotype that Americans randomly have of us, theres no data to prove it. Theres is however lots of data to show that we have good teeth, as is there lots of data to show that Americans are fat. I always say to Americans, name me one British person with bad teeth and all they can come up with is Amy Winehouse - a well known crackwhore. If you wanna see bad teeth, look at places like Thailand or Zimbabwe.

Lawrence said...

According to my friend, who eventually is a dentist, Collierville student studies shows that British people are always the beneficiary of naturally beautiful set of teeth for they have the roots of upper Scandinavian hunters who maintained their teeth for perfect hunting during the early periods. So be proud that you are a British! Good day!