I Don't Like To Show My Teeth

For those of you that know me well, you'll know that my front two teeth are fake.

In October of 2019 I lost my front two teeth. I absolutely loved longboarding and was just getting into skateboarding and skated around OSU campus all the time. On that fateful day, I was almost late for a cohort meeting and was rushing from north campus all the way through our Oval and South Oval to our union to make it by 6 PM. OSU's South Oval is notorious for massive sidewalk cracks and missing bricks - in fact, just one year prior I fractured my arm in the same area while longboarding (although I primarily attribute that particular accident to frustrating gawking pedestrians).

That day, the front wheels of my longboard didn't have enough momentum to carry over a vertical misalignment of sidewalk slabs and I fell off. Unlike most skating accidents where the rider carries the board's momentum forward and flies a few meters before sliding against the ground, this accident was one I couldn't brace for. My feet immediately hooked the sidewalk and I immediately faceplanted. It was as if my body was instantly rotated 90 degrees going from standing straight up to lying face-first on the ground.

I didn't notice anything at first. This was one of many times I've fallen from a board and it was not surprising or bewildering. My backpack was lying to the side and my headphones had flown in different directions. Because of my faceplant, my hands were unharmed but I could feel my face and arms burning from cuts and scrapes.

"This is fine," I said out loud. But it didn't come out that way. Instead, I heard something like

"Thith ith fide."

Horrified, I brought my hand to my mouth and felt the jagged edges and gaping holes where my front two teeth used to be. If I wasn't panicked before, I was now.

I skipped my cohort meeting and quickly walked home to call my dentist and scheduled an emergency appointment the next day. My dentist told me that if it was a smaller tooth chip and I had retrieved my tooth fragments, what they'd normally do is just use a special glue to cement the tooth back together, but in my case I broke off so much of my teeth that nerve was exposed and they would have to give me crowns, which are fake porcelain teeth made to mimic my teeth.

A crown being inserted onto a tooth

Before I knew what was happening or what crowns meant, they began the procedure. They had to act fast to prevent my nerves from getting damaged. I watched as they took a comically massive needle and stuck it multiple times underneath my upper lip into my upper gum, then took a drill and drilled off the remaining bits of my teeth. After drilling most of my teeth off, they gave me a mirror to show me. I remember thinking to myself, "I guess there's no going back!"

My dentists cemented a large chunk of plastic (vaguely resembling two teeth) to my tooth stubs and told me that these were my temporary teeth that I would wear for the next week until they could create proper porcelain replicas of my teeth. They told me that for the next appointment it would be as easy as pulling off the plastic and cementing the crowns in their place. They couldn't have been further from the truth.

When I arrived in their office the next week, they attempted to pull out the plastic stand-in with their hands but it wouldn't budge. According to the dentists, my body tried to heal and my gums had started to cover and bond to the plastic teeth. It was impervious to motion, requiring the dentists to pull out the big guns: dental pliers.

I could only watch in horror and fear as they grabbed my left plastic tooth with pliers and began to pull and twist. When force wasn't enough, they used a dental tool resembling a flathead screwdriver, placed it near the border between my gum and tooth, and began to pry and chisel my tooth off. This agonizing torture continued for what felt like hours as they yanked on the tooth until I finally heard cracks and crunches as they finally yanked my left front tooth out of its socket.

"Are you ok? We're halfway there," my dentist told me as I shuddered, dreading the next tooth pull. Thirty minutes later, they had pulled out the plastic pieces, blow-dried my tooth stubs, and had prepped my gums for my new crowns.

The rest of the procedure was relatively painless. The new porcelain crowns were efficiently cemented in and I finally had a chance to look at my new smile. It was relieving to see a full smile again. As I walked out of the dentist's office, I could only think of two things: how grateful I was for my dentists who were able to reconstruct my natural smile, and how adverse I was to ever doing something like that again. Granted, I still longboarded around campus, but not to the degree I once did.

Why am I writing about this?

I'm suddenly writing about this now for a few reasons.

  1. The entire experience was very traumatizing and sheds a very different light on the GTA torture scene.
  2. I had to get my crowns replaced again today for the first time in three years and I am once again reminded of my experiences I thought I had forgotten.
  3. I can't express my appreciation of dental care enough. Without wonderful dentists, I would not be proud of my smile.

Although my experience was difficult and tramatizing, I look back on my tooth struggles and laugh. I still can't really feel much in my front two teeth and my gums are now slightly more sensitive in that area but I appreciate the fact that I can still smile. It also makes for a great fun fact in ice breakers.

Next time you go to the dentist for a regular checkup and flinch when they floss your teeth or remove plaque buildup, remember that it could always be much much worse. And for the love of all things, please be careful when participating in any physical activity!