Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crumbling Teeth

Last week I had another one of my crumbling-teeth dreams. Maybe it was triggered by Hallowe'en coming up, but I hate this recurring dream! In it, usually the edge of one of my molars breaks, which has happened to me in real life. Then, next thing I know, all my (oddly enough, perfectly white) teeth are falling apart to the gum line like hollow eggshells and I'm spitting out chunks of white enamel.

The only other person I've heard of with this particular dream is Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half . [But do you think I could find the post where she actually writes about it? Noooo. But I know it's there. I found it during my marathon session of reading every. single. one. of her posts immediately after being introduced to her blog. I came very close to repeating that endeavour today.]

As I've mentioned before, I was not a very diligent brusher of teeth when I was a child. I don't think I was as bad as Jessica Simpson who famously boasted that she never (or rarely) brushes her teeth. [I can look down my nose at her, because at least I've changed my ways since growing up.]

But when I was a snotty-nosed kid, the ol' toothbrush had a longer lifespan than Methuselah, 'cause it was rarely ever used. And I don't know when our city started putting fluoride in its tap water, which according to Dr. Peter Cooney, Health Canada’s chief dental officer in 2008, "helps to reduce tooth decay by 20-40 per cent in kids and teens and by 27 per cent in adults." [I tried to research that online, but couldn't find any date. What I DID find is that the policy of fluoridating water is quite controversial these days. I had no idea.]

Frankly, I thought it was part of normal aging in our family to:
  • Get fat
  • Need glasses
  • Wear dentures
Both my parents removed their teeth (at least some of them) at night and placed them in glasses of water with Polident. I just thought that was inevitable, so I didn't worry about it.

Sure, my oral situation was yucky -- my friends used to ask me if my teeth didn't feel gritty. They didn't because the plaque was so thick, it actually felt smooth. [I KNOW:  ew ew ew ew ew!] You'd think that that shaming question would motivate me to get with the program, and it did, for a week or so, but old habits die hard. I don't think I really started any dental hygiene until I was dating. For obvious reasons.

For most of my childhood, we had no dental insurance, so my teeth just rotted in my mouth. Quite literally. Oddly, I don't remember any toothaches or discomfort.

When my dad finally did get a job with dental benefits, I had a series of interminable dental appointments to fill cavernous holes in my teeth. During one such noise-and-stink-filled appointment, one of the dental staff came into the opertory and glanced at all the little pots of amalgam on the dentist's tray.

"Is that all for her?!" she marvelled. Yah. It was.

I imagine the poor dentist shook his head at the condition of my teeth.

Not surprisingly, the whole thing left me with a serious loathing for the dentist's office and a greater appreciation for oral hygiene. I am fortunate to still have all my original teeth, albeit with a few crowns.

But what about the recurring dream? According to BellaOnline's "dreams editor," [Now, there's a job title!] these dreams (nightmares!) are fairly common and may have nothing or everything to do with my actual teeth. Not so helpful.

In the meantime, my kids have benefited from my own childhood dental disaster. I've been enough of a tooth-brushing Nazi that, though they each have had cavities, they have been minor "pits" for the most part. And I don't think any of them have the same anxiety associated with dentists as I have. So there's your silver lining. [Pardon the pun.]

One final interesting tidbit: my older sister actually became a dentist.

Oh. Whatever you do, do NOT Google images for crumbling teeth. Unless you're trying to diet or motivate yourself to quit smoking. Instead, Google Jessica Simpson brushing teeth, and have a good laugh.


  1. I didn't brush much as a kid either. But I was lucky enough to have inherited great enamel, so had no cavities before age 20. Mere luck, I assure you.

  2. The dreams could be simply from "gnashing your teeth" (oh how biblical of me!!) in your sleep. Clenching/grinding is quite common when we sleep, especially if we're under some kind of stress. Unfortunately, those heavily filled teeth will be the ones to crack under the pressure. But you will never have them crumbling as in your nightmare.
    I have long coveted your pearly whites...keep 'em shining. :)


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