2011-09-15 / Editorial Page

Dear Hearts and Gentle People

I miss you tooth
My tongue doth too
When you were looth
It wiggled you.

For two weeks now I haven’t been able to keep my tongue from gravitating to the back upper side of my mouth. It has found a hole in one of my molars that it searches for constantly, and when it finds its target it slithers into it, twists and turns, fills the entire cavity with itself, then sucks it out making a most rude sound.

My mouth is sore from this disgusting habit that I obviously have no control over whatsoever! The more I try to keep my tongue in tow the more it disobeys me and it is there again before I know it.

Actually, I don’t think it’s a cavity. It’s just a hole on the surface of the tooth. How it got there I have no clue. I do know that when I eat a hamburger for instance, I can get home and find a quarter of a pound of ground beef hidden in that crater. (Might be a nice place to store some dessert for later.)

I get my dental mirror and the pointed end of my dental floss and probe its depths until I remove the offending leftovers.

Yes, I have called my dentist and he will see me tomorrow. Thank goodness. I can’t put up with much more of this. The jaw pain is all but unbearable and I always get a little leery when codeine becomes my best friend.

Teeth are a pain in the tush. They really are. Why all the fuss about dental hygiene anyway? Mankind has managed for generations without paste, floss, and the light, minty taste of mouthwash.

Take a look at Tarzan. Beautiful, big, white teeth! I’m sure his dental hygiene didn’t include porcelain crowns, overnight whiteners, or braces. How did he do it? Chewing on limbs and tree bark? Probably. Bet he never had a toothache either.

Ironically, though our generation has more to keep our teeth perfectly healthy and white than it ever has, we have produced some of the most ill cared for teeth the world has ever seen. By the way, do you know why we are certain that the toothbrush was invented in Alabama? Because, had it been invented anywhere else, it would have been called a teeth brush.

My daddy warned my sister and me almost daily about the care of our teeth. “Be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you,” he’d say. Daddy had beautiful teeth as a young man but they were weak and by the time he was an old man he had traded all his teeth in for the portable ones.

“Less trouble,” he’d say, but then he’d always add, “I wish I could saved my own though.”

Oddly enough, our family was what some might call a toothy family. (Mouthy?) My sister had an entire extra third set of teeth! Ask her. She’ll tell you. And the ones she was left with were the most beautiful pearly white teeth you’ve ever seen.

I, too, had extra teeth… one. It was in the roof of my mouth. Freaky, huh? I thought so too until I found out some folks have them pop up all over their bodies. Of course, I had it removed with no trouble at all and my teeth were pearly white, but never quite as luminous as my sis’s.

One high school basketball game and an errant throw and one of my front teeth was history. As I have been several times since, I was crowned. I am determined to keep all my teeth in my head in case somebody someday has to identify my remains by them. Whatever it takes, my teeth get the royal treatment. So what if I have more canals than Venice; the originals are still there.

One of our sons had to have braces because of too many teeth and he wore them at least four years until he downgraded to the ever-popular retainer. I can not tell you the number of times I have rummaged in trash cans looking for that thing, even backtracking in the car fifty miles to find it rolled up in a napkin at Hardees.

Beautiful teeth. This boy had beautiful teeth. Fast-forward ten years and a move to Augusta, Georgia. Said son and his friend go ice-skating and, oh how I wish I were kidding, my son falls head first on the ice and knocks out one of his beautiful $5,000 front teeth!

My poor daddy was forever having trouble with his plates but he was industrious and did a lot of dentistry on himself. Break a plate: Super Glue to the rescue. Not tight enough: bubble gum did the trick. He could bob for apples and pick up every one without a hitch.

The only thing about his teeth over which he seemed to have no control was losing them. We were forever searching for Daddy’s teeth, under the car seats, under the bed, in the icecream bowl, in the trashcan, or in his pocket.

Now, mind you, I’m not making fun of my daddy. I love him too much for that. And he always laughed with us anyhow which made him all the more loveable.

There was the day Daddy had searched the house over from back to front looking for his errant teeth. We all joined in the search to no avail. Disgusted with himself and tired, Daddy sat down on the sofa to take a break.

All of a sudden we heard him shout. We ran in to see him holding high his teeth. He had been sitting on them. We all chuckled at the find but it was Daddy who made us keel over in hysterics.

“Well, I’ll be doggoned. First time I ever bit my own a**!”

Take a pill, Mama. That’s funny. I don’t care who you are.

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