Memory Lane: My Front Tooth

In the melee the other day, Kate chipped a tooth. I didn’t notice it until bedtime, probably because of all the blood at the time of the accident, and the tooth wasn’t radically displaced. She complained of a little bit of pain after she brushed her teeth, which is probably why I was looking at her mouth in the first place.

When I noticed, when I was tucking her into bed (well, into Flora’s bed), I said, “Oh! You chipped your tooth.” It is the eyetooth, on the left.

She got very worried. “Is it all yellow like yours?” she asked, clearly concerned.

“No,” I said wryly. “But you have to go to the dentist anyway.”


When I was 9 years old, I fell down the stairs.

I didn’t really fall so much as fly down the stairs, actually. I remember running. I was definitely running. Whether I was running because I was late, or my mother was calling me, or I was simply taking joy in speed and my 9-year-old body — I was a long-legged lightweight at 9, and over short distances, I could go very fast — I don’t know.

In any case, I went running down the stairs, flying down the stairs, and in my ineffable graceless ways, I skipped probably the last three stairs, went soaring through the air, and landed on my face.

I blacked out, although I definitely remember screaming. Maybe I blacked out when my mother, in an attempt to save my front tooth, tried to gently point it the right way down in my gum.

It was a lost cause.

Whether or not I actually fractured my nose is up for debate. I used to claim that of course I did, because, hello, look at my nose. But now that I’m older, I have to admit: I just have my dad’s nose. My mother doesn’t remember a bloody nose; she just remembers the tooth.

When I fell, or to be more precise, when I landed, I landed on the faux stone foyer by our front door. I chipped the right front tooth cleanly in half — on the diagonal.

My mother says I was face down and screaming when she got to me, and when she turned me over, she noticed the tooth — what was left of my tooth — sticking straight out — straight forward out — of my gum. She tried to, as I said, push it down. Then she called the dentist. Who wouldn’t see me because it was a Saturday.

We changed dentists.

Anyhoo, I went to school on Monday, knowing I had a dentist appointment later. I do not remember eating the rest of the weekend, although I must have. Maybe I just drank my meals for a couple of days. (Milkshakes!)

I do remember, very clearly and painfully, deciding to get a drink of water from the fountain at school at one point. I don’t recall if anyone told me beforehand about exposed nerves, but I learned about them damn fast in that hallway. I never realized how much cold water could hurt.

The dentist did his best to repair what was left. I have blocked out that process; I’m sure some kind of novacaine was involved, because I emerged with a new, whole front tooth.

For some reason, this same dentist decided not to do a root canal at the time. He thought that maybe the nerves hadn’t really been damaged, and maybe I wouldn’t need a root canal. Or at least he hoped.

He was wrong. When I was 12, my front tooth started to hurt. At first, it was just a little tender. But the pain built, and started to radiate up into the gum, and by the time I finally saw the dentist again, the whole front of my face from that tooth up to about my sinus cavities was a giant, roaring hurt.

It you have ever had an abcessed tooth, you know what I’m talking about. If not, there probably are comparable pains. Like, if you hit your thumb with a hammer. Only imagine you hit your thumb with a hammer, and then instead of stopping and getting some ice, you hit it a couple more times. Until maybe you broke your thumb and it swelled up and you could feel the pain in your elbow. That’s what an abcessed tooth feels like. Kind of.

I had a root canal. The details are hazy. At some point, my front tooth was shaved down to a peg and then they bonded something on there that loosely resembles a tooth. If you’ve ever met me, I’m sure you’ve noticed that my front tooth is discolored. It’s been this way since I was a teen.

I keep meaning to do something about it. I’m quite self conscious about it in pictures, and I always keep my lips over my teeth when smiling for them. I don’t know what would be done about it — dentists always seem to focus on the fact that I still have my wisdom teeth, and most of them don’t discuss my front tooth in any depth. I don’t know what doing something would cost, although for some reason the amount $1500 sticks in my head.

That’s a lot of diapers.


The dentist says Kate’s mouth is fine. He took an x-ray, then smoothed out the tooth. He says there doesn’t appear to be any further trauma to the mouth, but she has to eat soft foods for a time, or foods that are cut up small. We go back in six weeks. Thank goodness it’s just a baby tooth, and her gums and permanent teeth all appear to be unaffected. *knock wood*

What’s the most traumatic injury you got as a kid? How much would you pay to erase the scars, if any?

12 thoughts on “Memory Lane: My Front Tooth

  1. I, too, once tried to fly.

    For reals.

    I was jumping on the couch and I had that amazing feeling of weightlessness and I was four. What did I know? So I thought I should just go for the flying. It worked for about a second. And then I was falling. And then I was trying to brace myself for the inevitable impact by sticking my left arm straight out to catch myself on the coffee table.

    I fractured my wrist.

    Good times.

  2. Like you, I also broke a front tooth. I was a senior in high school and luckily, we already had our pictures taken. But this was the beginning of a lifetime of dental work and re-work.

    The problem with fixing the “yellow tooth” is that your insurance would probably consider it a cosmetic procedure, so you’d be on the hook for the full cost to fix it. Still, $1500 seems a little high. They should be able to put on a cap, or even a veneer, for much less than that…

    • Yeah, I really have look into it. I have pretty nice teeth — after years of braces and the like — so I should fix this once and for all and stop being self-conscious of it.

  3. I have a 4-5inch scar on my left side, between my belly button and my hip, kinda. I had surgery on my kidney when I was 10. The tube was blocked (wrapped around blood vessels) and it wouldn’t empty, my body was being poisoned, etc etc… anyway, they fixed it, all is well. It’s a pretty nasty scar, and they could probably do the same surgery today without more than an inch scar, I’d guess. But it doesn’t really bother me. I can’t wear a bikini (not without grossing people out, ha) but I’m okay with that because I don’t have a bikini body anyway (hellooooo two kids!) So Dan is really the only one who sees it 😉 heh

  4. My mother was an elementary school art teacher by profession, which was a great thing for my sister and me when we were little. We had all manner of art supplies when we were kids, and mom often used her talents to help us out with some special toys that she made, like a giant vinyl map of a town — big enough to cover the the whole basement playroom floor — or a refrigerator box playhouse.

    There was an evening when my sister and I had been banished to the basement after dinner while mom and dad cleaned up. I remember chasing Erin around a pile of stuff — including the refrigerator box — in the middle of the room. I remember somehow tripping on the box and hitting the floor with my chin. I don’t remember that hurting much — I was probably a little fuzzy-headed — but on the subsequent trip to the emergency room to get stitches, I am certain the shot to numb my chin was, and still is, one of the most painful things I’ve ever felt.

    And somewhere under my beard — a permanent fixture in one form or another since 1994 — there is an inch-long scar on my chin from the stitches.

    Hm. Someday I’ll have to shave and see how that thing is doing.

  5. […] If — when, I should say — my children need to see the doctor or the dentist, I take the time, I burn the personal or vacation hour(s). I don’t even hesitate. I agonize a little, I will admit that. I was close to taking a personal hour next week to see my chiro, but then yesterday, I had to get Michael to the doctor. He’s got another ear infection — that’s three in five months, people. I’ll have to take more time for his ear recheck/six month appointment/vaccinations. Kate goes back to the dentist in a couple of weeks, too, to follow up on her chipped tooth. […]

  6. […] Okay, so I figured I would have a talk with my absolutely fantastic pediatric dentist about it the following day (today, that would be). (I worry a lot about my kids’ teeth. I have my reasons.) […]

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