Teeth are Important
I am master’s student, which means no funding, assistance, guidance, or love. I am older than undergrads, pay full tuition, but am offered the same insurance coverage. Undergraduates are ten years my junior, go home to do laundry at their parents’ house, and legally can be covered for many more years on their parents’ insurance. I no longer have this option. I elected the student health care, which did not include a dental option.
One day, at my awful retail job, while grinding my teeth to avoiding throwing up at the register because of what my life had come to, I heard a crack. I felt something crunchy, spit it into a Kleenex, and continued counting the hours until I could go home. I assumed a filling cracked and fell out.
Minus the trauma of the crack and crunch, I didn’t notice any pain for weeks. Then, while biting something, like bread, a sore ache adjusted to a shooting pain and became an unwelcome and permanent guest in my mouth
I researched low cost dentists. After the research, waiting on hold to for 10 minutes to be told they weren’t taking any new patients I decided to go to the mall. Obviously. According to my therapist, retail therapy is one of my coping skills and should be not be toyed with until I find another one to replace it. Few things replace the thrill of paying $6.97 for a pair of Gap pants.
However, I am not completely delusional. Good deals will not help my tooth. Also at the mall is a FREE dental consult office. When things say free, be suspicious.
I explain I broke a filling and have no insurance. I put my sad face on and wait with all of the other hopeless patients. Waiting rooms are sad and hopeless.
A young woman in a long yellow gown comes out and explains in limited English that I need to pay $40 for an x-ray of the tooth. OK.
At which point, the woman takes me to do the x-ray. Now there are two women speaking to one another. I believe it is Polish. I don’t understand Polish. I did understand it was the girl’s first day and they couldn’t decide is they got the right tooth in the x-ray. The right tooth, as the broken one. I don’t think I have more than one broken tooth on that side.
They confirm it is close enough.
The two women lead me to a sprawling backroom decorated with up to ten dental chairs separated by cubicle partitions. I can only assume it is the birthplace of many dental nightmares.
A dentist with a mask on pokes at my tooth and says, “We can pull or root canal.” He flips my chair up and hands me a card with the following on the back:
Root Canal $2600
I stare in horror at the card and ask if it is pulled, will it be noticeable? He says it depends. Depends, as in how aware the other person is. Depends on how serious they pay attention to teeth. You know? It depends. What the fuck? He gets up to leave, and I ask about the rest of my teeth. I expect full service for this free consult and I am horrified about how many teeth I might lose and wonder at which point he would say yes, this is noticeable. He explains they need more x-rays to be certain, but with some coaxing, he agrees to look in my mouth again. Probably to stop my talking. He says to come back for either appointment. He never took his mask off.
I leave the office to sit on the mall bench outside the dental place. I am torn between crying/hyperventilating and simply going home to cut off all the legs of my jeans. To pull the tooth will be noticeable, not dependent on attention. My friend talks me off the dental ledge and convinces me a second opinion will be important.
Nonetheless, I start to plan my new toothless life. Well, luckily I just joined a gym. My body better be slammin’ to get passed a missing tooth. On that note, I walk to Victoria’s Secret. I find the brightest most padded push up bra there is. It is green, green, like red light, green light, green means go adorned with white delicate flowers.
I put this thing on and am met with the glory of my cleavage as it has never been.
I need to show someone this. I hit the light inside the dressing room for an associate. She knocks and I ask if it looks OK, or is it too tight? She smiles and says, “No, it looks really good on you!” I doubt it looks bad on anyone, but I’m sold.
Walking through the mall, I am caught by the gleam of a Sunglass Hut. Sunglasses? Well, yeah. I have high cheekbones and when I smile, I pick up the glasses, which looks funny. Then I remember I won’t be smiling anymore and I am re depressed. I hover around the sale glasses, but am then approached by the cutest, sweetest, saleswoman. She hands my pairs of Coach and Oakley. I enlist the tall, I assume wealthy European man for his opinion. He confirms the large Coach glasses, because they are more feminine. Great, feminine will hide missing teeth, if only for a short while.
I reach for another pair of Coach sunglasses that were designed for my face, but unfortunately not my life. They are polarized. I don’t quite understand what that means, but people always mention the water. They are $200, so by water I assume they mean yachts. I don’t spend a lot of time on yachts. Actually the time on spend on yachts is none, no time on yachts.
But, the day had already been such a letdown. I didn’t want to let the sales clerk down too. I was so desperate to replace my would be missing tooth, a symbolism of neglect and white trash with boobs and sunglasses, but really sex and wealth. Who needs braces and root canals when I have sex and consumerist vision to fill my smile in?
I bought the sunglasses like a dope.
I returned them a couple days later like a rational person.
Only after texting an upper body picture of myself wearing the bra and glasses to my friends titled, “Bitches be Crazy.”