A Chip Off the Old Tooth

Tracy Beckerman on

After making it through the challenges of Thanksgiving, the trials of Black Friday, and the marathon of Christmas and New Year's, I chipped a tooth brushing my teeth.

I'd have to say that typically I am not an aggressive tooth brusher. I have an electric toothbrush that does most of the brushing for me, and it's generally a pretty amicable electric toothbrush. (Unlike my Roomba, which seems to have anger management issues. But that's another column.) Since I didn't do it and the toothbrush didn't do it, I had to assume it was just one of those things that happens when you get into midlife that defy explanation ... like when you throw your back out putting on socks, or sprain your earlobe getting out of bed.

When you're a kid and you lose a tooth, it's a cause for celebration. Everybody cheers and the tooth fairy comes and stuffs money under your pillow, and if you're lucky, and the missing tooth is in the front, you can spit milk out the hole at your sister. But when you're an adult, nobody cheers except the dentist, who is going to make some serious dough fixing your chipped tooth.

That is, of course, assuming your dentist is in town so he could fix your chipped tooth.

But mine was not. Mine was on vacation all week, somewhere far away, where a semi-hysterical, 59-year-old woman wouldn't bother him with a chipped tooth emergency.

The good news was, the chipped tooth wasn't causing me any pain. However, the gaping void in my mouth made me look like a witch, or perhaps a pirate, or my Great Uncle Hymie from the old country who didn't believe in climate change or dentists. While this look would have been great for Halloween, it was not so great for my regular, post-Halloween, work-related Zoom calls. It was my center front tooth, on the bottom, where everyone could see that I had a chipped tooth when I talked. And if I didn't talk, they might suspect something was up when I smiled and they saw my tongue escaping through a hole in my teeth.


Realizing this could be a distraction on my calls, I tried to think of some way to temporarily overcome the problem. I recalled that when my kids were younger and had braces, they would occasionally use a form of dental wax to help with the discomfort. I thought that if I got some of this dental wax and molded it into the shape of a tooth, I could use it to fill the chip. It was a good idea, in theory, but the problem was, when I stuck it to my tooth, it wouldn't stay put and I kept swallowing it.

"I don't know what to do," I said to my husband. "I keep swallowing my dental wax."

"So, just use more," he replied.

"I don't know," I said. "I've swallowed so much wax I think I might be growing a candle in there. Or a box of crayons."


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