I had a rude awakening this week. I broke a tooth at lunch. So what? Some might say that there is nothing strange about that. I was eating yoghurt!!! That is like breaking a tooth on pulp. I was not chewing on a stake or a nut, but soft gooey yoghurt. A trip to the dentist did nothing to bolster my ego. It seems that as we grow older our teeth become “brittle.” Actually I came up with the term because my German dentist had no clue how to say that my tooth had enough wear and tear and was falling apart. I wanted to spare him the embarrassment of him telling me that my teeth are old. To pull or not to pull? That was his dilemma. He saved it. Well, he was smiling from ear to ear as he gave me the news that we could save the tooth especially after it had been worked on recently (two root canals) and a 40+ year old filling replaced.
I never thought that this visit to the dentist would bring me close to what I probably must anticipate later in life. Brittle teeth. I take care of my teeth and floss till I drop, but I guess like any other part of our anatomy, if over used it will also diminish in its performance. I always somehow corelated teeth condition with youth. Old people lose their teeth, younger ones have a Colgate smile with all their teeth intact. Both my parents had false teeth in some location in their mouth. It was not a pretty sight looking at canines in a glass of water. They always seemed to float in a smile!
Is brittle teeth the next step to no teeth? I think my dentist saw my distress and “saved” my tooth. He went to work eagerly inside my mouth to save my tooth like Superman attempting to save Lois Lane. In half an hour my tooth was saved albeit brittle, and regained my dignity and a reprieve. If truth be told, it is a hollow reprieve because I cannot chomp on hard food any longer. But that is my secret. That is demotivating in itself because I always prided myself in being able to chew on hard crusts and hard apples like a warrior on the front. I put my energy into it. Now I am literally reduced to eating and chewing politely on pulp. How does one explain the brittle tooth syndrome without giving away the fact that age has now crept in one’s mouth? How am I going to explain eating soft food and pulp?
I think that teeth are the final frontier to one’s perception of youth. A beautiful smile with gorgeous teeth adds years to one’s self esteem. Commercials for denture adhesive give false teeth a romantic aura to the reality that one’s mouth is now a benign cave that chews baby food. Middle-aged gray haired beautiful people are chomping down on a hard apple while horseback riding on a California beach. A deep sexy voice asks us mere viewers if we can tell which one of them has dentures; like we really give a damn. We all know that once we succumb to dentures there is no turning back, and glueing false teeth in place is hardly a romantic turn on. Those in the commercial must have been paid well to be secure enough and advertise the fact that they are toothless.
At 97, my mother keeps her old false teeth in an equally old container with her name on it at the Home she is in. The container is protected like Fort Knox in case “someone steals them” as she so often says. Who wants your teeth ma? I just want to keep mine. Taking someone else’s teeth would never cross my mind, but then I am not 97…yet! I wonder if there is a trade-in for a brittle tooth?