How I chipped my tooth

Kristine Gill

Credit: DKS Editors

Credit: DKS Editors

It began like any other night. School was done for the day, and I had actually finished my homework in time to earn a play-date with my friend across the street. I shouldn’t say play-date. That term got dropped around the fourth grade. In seventh grade, I would have referred to this occasion as “hanging out.”

I remember dinner tasted especially good that night because I was looking forward to a rare treat. Gimme a break, I led a sheltered life as a child. Going across the street on a school night was like finding out Christmas was coming three months in advance, or that you managed to clean up the dog doo on the carpet in time to evade punishment for you and your pooch. It was like waking up on a Sunday morning, and hearing mother whisper that she’d drawn a skip-it card from the Religious Monopoly box, and you didn’t have to go to church that day.

So you can imagine what a letdown it was to fast-forward a few minutes and realize I wouldn’t be playing – I mean – “hanging” with anyone that night. Why you ask? Why were my dreams shattered? Turned to dust? Split in two? Why was I robbed of this rare opportunity in my junior high career? Ask my mom.

Dinner was going great. I was in a good mood, cracking jokes for my sister seated across the table and throwing those rare teenaged smiles at my mother. Mid-laugh, a drop of milk sloshed out of my glass and onto the shiny imitation wood of our kitchen table.

It was no use crying, rather, a job for the quilted quicker picker upper! You remember the commercials? Bounty paper towels absorbed anything, but I wasn’t going to use a paper towel. Screw paper towels. I was going to go for humor tonight, a good laugh, a real response from my audience. I was going to do what Katie and I did every time we spilled something: I was going to suck that milk up with my mouth.

Mom sort of threatened me as I sang the Bounty jingle and latched my arms behind my back. She was only kidding though. We were all having a really good time that night, and there was nothing serious in the tone of her voice. Nothing. Serious. So I didn’t see it coming.

I leaned over the table, made contact with its smooth gloss, sucked up that milk and slowly and triumphantly raised my head. I should have drawn back and seen a clean surface. I didn’t have time to. Before I knew it my mouth was making contact with the table again – and with force!

My tooth! DEAR GOD MY TOOTH! It was nothing. It was reduced to dust – a white powder on the table where milk once pooled. The inner corner of my right front tooth was gone. A quick poke and prod by my tongue revealed this startling damage. I could react in only one way: I bawled.

Turns out Mom wasn’t kidding around. Well she was. She didn’t really intend for her hand, which waited “gently” above my head to yield such a forceful blow to my skull. And she certainly didn’t want to suffer the guilt for years to come as I blamed her for my hillbilly trademark. But, her hand was there, and my tooth was gone.

My mom telephoned my play-date to share the horrible news. I can use the term “play-date” now because my behavior while she was on the phone reflected that of a four-year-old. I stumbled around the house wailing and making frequent stops to the bathroom where I surveyed the damage through bleary eyes in the bathroom mirror.

There was no pain. Fortunately for my mother, the tooth had not chipped far enough to expose the root. It was only a nick in her eyes. My play-date’s mother was a hygienist who said my dentist would simply buff my tooth to even out the chip.

This suggestion gave me hope. I stifled my sobs long enough to consider the possibility of a shorter tooth. Gagging on spit and squinting through tears, I stood, arms held up at my sides in a helpless sort of way, and let my tongue measure the chip. Buff it? BUFF IT?! Nothing short of a sandblaster could “even out” the gaping corner of my tooth. My poor tooth. My poor incisor. My poor baby.

Turns out all I needed was a little bondage. No, I wasn’t gagged and bound to the chair during my visit to the dentist, but I did receive a little tooth-colored-resin-material-hardening-with-a-special-light procedure. We won’t discuss how many times this bonding would come off in the future, or how many times I’d attack an uneven edge with my own nail file.

Now I live a lie. Strangers and even close friends believe my smile is real, that all of these straight and orderly teeth are my own real natural beauties. I’ll let them believe it, and I’ll tell them to reach for the Bounty if they want to avoid crying over spilt milk.

Kristine Gill is a sophomore newspaper

journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].