Tuesday | December 18th, 2012


Last night while I was sitting in front of the computer absentmindedly flossing my teeth, a secret horror came true: the cap on one of my teeth popped off. This happened once when I was maybe ten years old and I had a cap on my big front tooth that came off in the same way. It’s sort of like how I envision all my teeth coming out someday. They will just drop out while I’m doing normal mundane things with my mouth, like talking or snoring.

I remember the dentist who put the first cap on my front tooth as an adult, she had extra resin and said she would put it on the bottom teeth. She didn’t know how long it would last, but I bet she’d be surprised to know that it lasted almost eleven years. The top tooth wasn’t so lucky, it got punched off by some asshole in 2005. I spent several years in Korea with a broken front tooth, slipping back into the less confident shy-state that made much of my youth walking around with the same visual defect. It wasn’t until Meow and I were planning our wedding that I went to get it fixed in Korea.

I was prepared to spend what I had spent in Portland to get my tooth fixed before zooming off to experience Korea—at least a grand. Part of the reason I hadn’t fixed it was because of the money I thought it would take (also part of the reason it didn’t get fixed when I was young as well). But it cost less than 200,000 and I’ll never forget riding the bus from Hannam-dong to Sinsa-dong to get to work (the early-early days of the CEC) with a spanky new tooth. I had to be careful though because my bottom teeth would hit it if I made a funny face … so I quit making faces.

At night though, in my sleep, I moved my lower jaw forward and smashed it right off. My shiny new, normal looking mouth, fucked up once again. The American dentist had mounted a cap on without shaving off much of my actual tooth, but my Korean dentist had carved a massive cavity-inviting-space-if-it-wasn’t-filled key hole which was now empty. I couldn’t live with that. If it had been a straight break or if the Korean dentist hadn’t carved so much of my beautiful tooth up (a tooth that had lived for more than 25 years cavity free), I would have just accepted this strangeness as me not being able to have shapely teeth (strong and healthy is better anyway).

The next morning I repeated the route from the morning before, a different time to wake up, a different bus to get to the dentist. I walked in and just handed the desk girl yesterday’s tooth. The dentist said he would try again, but warned me that if it didn’t take we would have to discuss another option. He had set the first one straight and pretty, but this one he put forward followed the angle of my tooth more closely. He also took more time making sure I had enough space in my bite.

As it sits now, it’s nearly impossible for me to bang the teeth together, but that doesn’t mean that I can forget what it’s like to spit pieces of my teeth (the car accident that broke them, losing the first cap to flossing, smashing the third cap off in my sleep, and now losing another one to flossing).

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