On Having a Silver Tooth

Shirley, 5th grade, St. Lawrence School, Carroll, IA.

”Embrace your imperfections” is a quote that I’ve had on my bulletin board for years. I like to think of it as a way to be/stay humble, or, as a way to be more human, acknowledging our flaws, be they physical, mental, or emotional.

Today, I’m thinking about teeth and dental work. We go to a team of fabulous dentists and staff, who I’ve been told, treat famous people (must get more detail on that!). Dan and I are both patients there. When they asked him if he’d like to get his teeth bleached, he told them, “No, I don’t plan on smiling that much.”, which made me laugh out loud!

On March 5th, I went in for the replacement of my front tooth. I’ve had that porcelain crown for 20 years or so, and the gum had receded enough to make them worry about food getting trapped under it. Besides, the materials in use now are far superior, more natural looking, than what was used back then.

I dreaded this work. 2 hours in the chair, and a temporary to wear for 4 weeks, while the new tooth was being manufactured. They told me that doing one front tooth is the most difficult procedure for dentists. I think it’s because of the matching that must be done.

Well, it wasn’t that bad! I thought I’d be wanting to go home and cry. Instead, I felt so good, I went to Williams Sonoma and bought a LeCruset dutch oven! It was such a mood lifter, thinking about the breads and meals we could use that for.

They sent me home with instructions on how to floss it (only pull the floss through, not down, or the tooth would pop right off), and how to re”glue” it in place if I had to, with vaseline or toothpaste as a bonding agent.

The next appointment was set for April 2nd. I patiently counted the days. Then, Dan heard on the news that dental offices were closing for 2 weeks, along with everything else, because of the corona virus and social distancing guidelines. “You might not get your 2nd appt.” he told me. “Oh, they for sure will do this appointment for me!” I said confidently, thinking of it as almost emergency work.

I was wrong! The office called me twice to re-schedule, going for April 7, then April 14, and then, to tell me they’re closing until June! They won’t even schedule an appointment at this time. I am assured that people can live with a temporary for weeks (now months) at a time.

All is good, not to worry. I can live with this minor setback.

Here is something I wrote on October 21, 2014, about the reason for my front tooth repair:

In the 3rd grade, while fighting with my cousin over a comic book, I slipped on his home’s beautifully polished , super slick hardwood floor, and chipped my front tooth diagonally in half.

We lived in rural Iowa, and had a wonderful dentist in Wall Lake who treated me with a form making (chocolate pie, he told me) substance that I bit into, and it tasted terrible. A few weeks later, I had a new front tooth, and it was silver!

It didn’t bother me to have that silver tooth that I remember. As a matter of fact, my best playmate at the time, Nancy, had to get one also, after chipping her tooth on the school playground. Everyone said that whatever Shirley did, Nancy had to do also. I’m a year older than Nancy.

Soon after, our family moved to Carroll, Iowa, where I was the new kid in the Catholic grade school. The boys teased me a little.

The one incident I remember the most happened in 4th grade. I was seated up front. One of the boys, who I will call Dan (wink, wink) was sitting in the back. He would whisper, “Oh Shirley”. I would turn around and he would pretend to be combing his hair, along with some of his buddies who he had enticed to do the same thing, while looking at “the mirror in my mouth”, as he called it.

Dan, all innocence here, early elementary school.

Such juveniles! And to think I married this leader of the pack, ha ha.

When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I must have been embarrassed by it, because all of my class pictures have a closed mouth smile.

Some time in high school, it was replaced with a nice white tooth, that held up until I foolishly bit into a Slo-Poke sucker that pulled it right off at the swimming pool. It was the day before an out of town cheerleading camp.

An emergency temporary cap was put on by our dentist, and I was able to carry on and go to the camp, at Simpson College, Indianola, IA, where I had a very good time!

Me, at cheerleading tryouts before the Student Council, Kuemper High School cafeteria, 1969.

May you all enjoy excellent dental health,


2 thoughts on “On Having a Silver Tooth

  1. Love your writing and your tooth story! I absolutely loved reading it….I was instantly pulled in and it brought me back to my own childhood memories! I have a similar grade school photo.
    Thank you Shirley!


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