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.