Sunday, May 24, 2009

my friend and our teeth

     When I started this eight month self-portrait series again, now at a five year interval rather than ten, Susan said something like, "Can I be one of the funny looking people standing with you, too?" And I was delighted, of course. But she wasn't up here during December and January when I was photographing myself with friends, so she couldn't be in it. And I wanted her there. So, I asked if she'd substitute for Krissy when I was just in New York. By then I knew that she really doesn't like photos of herself, though she's extremely attractive -- tall and willowy, sturdy calves that are so much fun to watch when she's striding, short, blonde messy hair, lots of colorful layers and unusual jewelry. She's a woman you notice when she walks into a room. And she's smart and lots of fun. And she smiles a lot.
     But she hates photos and always wants this one or that one deleted. This time she decided that teeth are the problem. We tried taking some pictures where our teeth didn't show and then laughed like fools about how impossible this is. I happen to like Susan's smile.........and though I rarely smile, being a much more dour character, I like mine. But our teeth are nothing to write home about.
     When my dentist repaired my missing right eyetooth that finally died after a root canal, he had to cap two surrounding teeth. So, three of my front teeth are fake. Those are the teeth that are whiter and more even. Dr. Sowels used to suffer over matching the color when he put in a crown. He had so many possibilities to chose from and so much to fight against. But he made, at the time, a fairly decent job of matching these fakes with the improbable real teeth. 
     Some years later, he fretted a lot about the real front tooth that's next to the fake. It really bothered him that it was discoloring because of a filling. I hate having dental work done so much that I kept saying no, don't fix it. Now that I look at a video I made during those years, I can see how peculiar my front tooth looked. It called attention to itself continually.
     Finally I gave in and let him fix it. But it's discolored again and the gum is receding. My new dentist, a lovely fellow whose novocain shots don't hurt in the slightest, was working on an extremely expensive crown (dental insurance covered next to nothing!) and offered to refinish the front tooth. Only $480. Unfortunately he and his wife have moved back to Baltimore because his mother, a doctor, developed early-onset dementia. 
     I don't think I would have had it fixed, anyway. 
     Besides, one of the problems is that the fake front tooth is now longer than the real one which I must have ground down, so my front teeth look even more crooked than they used to. And there's nothing to do about my bottom teeth which have shifted and poked around here and there, knocking each other even more out of place. 
     My lovely dental hygenist, Lyn, is having her teeth straightened. She told me that as you age, your teeth move so that peculiarities become much more pronounced. She could afford to do this preventative work because she is part of  a dental practice. And she's only fifty.
     Though my father managed an aneurysm when he was 84, (he waited it out for three weeks until he could be operated on -- that was the Canadian system and it worked perfectly well) and then, a few years later, the stroke (when he could move his left foot a quarter of an inch by pushing it gingerly, he knew that he'd walk again.) And when he was asked to make a presentation to justify going into rehab, he did and did it quite well, testifying that he needed to get back home to take care of his wife. But when it came to his teeth, he would not darken the door to a dentist office. He looked like a jack-o-lantern with blackened teeth. I have been told many times how much dental health effects general health, but he didn't care one bit.

1 comment:

  1. We do worry. If it's not about our teeth, it's about our hair or the shape of our faces or our bodies. I remember years ago seeing diagrams of facial types--oval, round, square, etc.--and directions about how to apply make-up and arrange hair to achieve the appearance of the desired oval. Here's to quirks!