In Our Head

Musings, thoughts, experiences…

The Gap January 20, 2009

What is your reaction to an adult with missing teeth?

It’s not positive, is it?

Homeless people, drug addicts and alcoholics, people who don’t practice appropriate self-care, people who smell bad, battered wives and barroom brawlers, people who are irresponsible and careless and on welfare – those are the ones who don’t have all their teeth.

Respectable, well-educated, hard-working, middle-class, normal people have full sets of teeth.  If some have been removed by a dentist, it doesn’t show because they have been neatly replaced by dentures or implants.

Recently my complacent assumptions, my tidy categorizations, were disturbed.  All bets are off now while I readjust my thinking.  I am missing a tooth.

About 25 years ago, I had some work done on my tooth #11.  That’s the third one on the upper left.  The procedure went smoothly and I thought no more about it – until a couple of months ago when, biting down on a piece of toast, I heard and felt a CRACK.  I tasted blood, spat out my toast, and began to investigate.  Tooth # 11 had broken off and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.  Examination of the evidence revealed that the internal parts of the tooth were mostly gone.  Apparently there is a phenomenon known as internal resorption that can do that.  Nobody knows why.

Once the bleeding stopped, I reached for the phone to call the dentist and arrange to have things taken care of at the dentist’s earliest convenience.  Just in time, I stopped.  I am unemployed and can’t afford to pay my dentist.  What to do?

I remembered that our county has a dental clinic for low-income residents.  That certainly includes me right now, so I called.  They do extractions.  Only extractions.  Got a problem?  Yank it out.  Medieval dentistry in the 21st century.  I didn’t think I needed an extraction since the tooth was already gone.  Thanks anyway.

What to do?  I got on the web.  Aha!  A charity clinic for low-income residents of my county.  Perfect.  According to their website, they offer quite a variety of services.  Feeling hopeful once again, I called.  They were very sorry, but their waiting list was over a year long and they weren’t accepting any new patients.

So here I am, having exhausted all available resources, with a gap in my smile and not a thing I can do about it, wondering what affect it will have on my job search.

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One Response to “The Gap”

  1. heidi Says:

    Good point! I’m wondering what my biases are… Thanks for the great post and the reminder to never assume.


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