Monday, April 19, 2010

Pearly Whites

I think I lost all my baby teeth by the time I was in middle school. Yet for years afterward I used to dream that my teeth were still falling out. And I had my permanent teeth now, so really, they were nightmares.

Last week, though, as I was taking the bus to salsa practice, I sat next to a large black man with a beautiful, friendly white smile who told me a story about teeth.

The day before, he had been on the bus when a lady nearby told him that he had really white teeth. He laughed at this, and replied that he was older than he looked and they were not real. Yet at the same time, they were his original teeth.

How could this be?

Four years earlier, when his teeth were strong and healthy, he'd gone to the dentist knowing that they would soon be the opposite, and asked the dentist to make a cast of his teeth. The dentist, surprised by this odd request, protested that they had never done that before. In the end, however, he acquiesced and carried out the procedure.

Time passed and my friendly stranger's white roses withered. He went back to the dentist and got his teeth back, almost literally. The cast made from his teeth was used to make perfectly fitting dentures that enabled him to keep his own original smile.

So moral of the story, dear readers: get your teeth cast in a mold for when you need dentures (and get a dental cleaning while you're at it).

And floss your teeth! It really does help prevent gum disease.

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