Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I think I should call Guinness and see if I qualify for a new world’s record.  In the last 10 days, I have had eight dental appointments.

The main problem is that my dentist, Attila the Driller, and I don’t see eye to eye. The perfect smile I’ve had these past few years was a result of some pretty expensive caps. When I was young, I always had a gap between my two front teeth, through which I used to have fun squirting water at other kids. But as I grew older, I began to like the gap less and less until eventually I had my front teeth capped to get rid of it. Unfortunately, a couple of those caps recently decided to fall off – and they took most of the teeth underneath them with them.

That’s when I decided that my next smile should have the gap back. When I mentioned it to my dentist, however, he reacted as if I’d just asked him for Dracula’s fangs.

“Why would you want the gap when you could still have a perfect smile?” he asked, frowning at me.

 “Because I’m getting too old for a flashy Hollywood-type smile. I need some imperfections – to match the rest of my body!”

The look he gave me clearly told me he wondered if I might be in serious need a long vacation – in a place with nice padded walls.

He took impressions for my two new front teeth and sent them off to the lab. Later that day, I returned to try them on.

“They look great!” Attila said, smiling so broadly I could see every tooth in his mouth. He handed a mirror to me.

The first thing I noticed was there was no gap between the two teeth. In fact, they were so close together, they looked like one big tooth. I was pretty sure the lab had cloned them from Alvin of the chipmunks.

“I look like a cross between Gary Busey and Mr. Ed!” I whined to Attila.

“Don’t be silly,” he said. “You look fine.”

I set down the mirror before my reflection cracked it, and glared at him. “Do you seriously like these teeth?”

He took me by the chin and studied my chipmunk smile more closely. “Well, now that I’m looking at them on you, I think they could use a little more definition between them.”

“Yeah, like a gap!”

“No, not a gap – definition!”

So back to the lab they went for more “definition.”  And back to the dentist’s I went to try them on. I didn’t see any change at all.  I put on my glasses. Still no difference.

“I don’t see any change in these teeth,” I complained to Attila. “Or do I need cataract surgery?”

Again, he studied my smile. “No,” he sighed. “I don’t see much of a change, either. Let me call the lab and explain exactly what I want.”

So once again, I went home looking like a jack-o-lantern.

The next few appointments weren’t much different – except I also had to endure a root canal and two fillings on some of my other teeth. I actually was relieved that I was so sore, I was having a lot of trouble chewing, because after seeing my bill, I couldn’t afford to buy food anyway.

“Tell you what,” my dentist finally said. “Meet me at my other office at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, and I’ll have the guy from the lab come over there with his tools and see if he can make some sample wax teeth exactly the way you want them, then when you’re satisfied, he can make the permanent ones.”

That sounded like the perfect solution to me. I also figured I could sweet-talk the lab guy into putting the gap back.

The next morning, I arrived at the dentist’s other office, which I had not been to in ages, at 8:05 a.m. – a real feat for me, considering I’m a night owl who’s never in bed before sunrise. I was puzzled to find the office door locked and no one around. So I sat out in my car and waited. And then I waited some more.

Finally, after about 20 minutes, a lady pulled into the parking lot and got out of her car. I had my windows down, so she looked in and asked, “Are you waiting for someone?”

“Yeah, my dentist.” It came out sounding more like a bear’s growl by then.

She seemed surprised. “Oh, he’s not here any more. He moved to another office here in town a few months ago.”

Luckily she knew where it was and gave me directions. All the way over there, I muttered so many unprintable things, my dentist’s ears must have been on fire.

The lab guy turned out to be very understanding when I told him how I wanted my teeth to look. He also was a practical joker.

“Here, let’s try these,” he said, shoving the two front teeth into my mouth. The gap was so wide, I could have eaten steak without even opening my mouth. He burst out laughing when he saw my expression.

Finally, after a lot of adjusting and melting wax with a little torch, he made the gap just the way I wanted it – very slight, not too prominent, but there.  He called Attila to come see the final result.

My dentist took one look at me and shook his head. “I still like it better the other way – no space. But if you’re happy, I guess that’s all that matters.”

So now I have my new smile. It’s bigger and bolder and has a thin space between the two front teeth.

And that space causes me to make a whistling sound whenever I say words that have an “s” in them.

I’d rather roll naked in a field of poison ivy than ever admit this to him, but I’m now thinking that maybe –just maybe – I should have listened to my dentist.

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