My teeth are a liability. After weeks of trying to ignore the constant stabbing pain in my jaw, which has risen to a crescendo of agony and blurred vision, I went to the dentist to find I am blessed with an abscess and will be further blessed with a costly root-canal bill. Add this to the thousands of dollars I am paying for orthodontic work, and I can honestly say I have not spent more money on anything in my life.
My dad got all his teeth pulled out when he was 19. On purpose. In an epic, testosterone-fuelled battle of the late 1960s. This story is legendary. One day when I tell it to my grandkids it will involve other body parts also being removed, but for now, this is what actually happened…
My dad went to the dentist, who told him he needed a tooth pulled out.
Dad: “Why don’t you pull them all out then?”
Dentist: “OK. I will then.”
Dad: “All right. Go on. Pull them all out.”
Dentist: “Fine. If that’s what you want.”
Dad: “Yip. Do it.”
Dentist: “I hope you are serious, because I will do this.”
Dad: “I am. Pull them out. All of them.”
Dentist: “OK. I am pulling them out now. I have removed a tooth. Shall we continue?”
Dad: “Yes. Didn’t even hurt.”
Dad had two rows of false teeth installed. From the age of 19 he had to buy Freedent gum and put his teeth in a glass before bed. What a catch. Go Mum.
I always thought this was the most ridiculous illustration of masculinity, stubbornness and borderline medical malpractice I have ever heard. Now, I am starting to realise that if I had had my teeth removed at the age of 19 I would have saved thousands of dollars already. By the time I am in my 70s, it could be tens of thousands of dollars. These extensions of my skull are kind of vulnerable, and don’t cope too well with sugar, my long-term lover.
The thing about teeth is, if you don’t look after them, everyone knows about it. The repercussions and social implications are huge. Rotten or missing teeth are hard to ignore, and tend to thwart efforts to get a job (or a sweet pash).
My heart is in excellent shape. So are my lungs. But people don’t see these interior things. I could walk around with a chest X‑ray and an ECG report stapled to my forehead, but I highly doubt it would win over a potential employer.
I think a lot of my peers are grateful the liver is enclosed within the walls of our torso, and not dangling freely from our chin. I know a lot of unhappy livers, and they can stay hidden as far as I am concerned.
My heart is happy. My teeth are not. They need to harden up. Or I need to avoid sugar from now on. Sugar and I have had some good times. It has got me through long days, some tragic times, and said “sorry” when words were failing.
But I would like to announce, here and now, that sugar and I are officially ending our relationship. It’s over. Sugar has been slowly eroding my self-worth and my tooth enamel: it’s time to find a new buddy.
I mean this. I beg of you, dear reader, that if you see me with any sugary food then punch me. Punch me anywhere. Punch my throat. Punch my stomach. Just don’t punch my teeth, because that would defeat the point.