All I Want For Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth

Sunde White illustrates her essay about her bad teeth


Years ago I broke my two front teeth snowboarding.  I wasn’t doing anything rad and awesome, I was actually guffawing at a joke my brother had made.  I threw my head back laughing as we walked, carrying our boards to the lift, then threw my head forward right into the metal edge of my board.  I slapped my mittened hand over my mouth and looked at my brother.

“Oh my god,” I asked him. “Did I just break my front teeth??”

He bent down to look as I peeled my mitten off my mouth.

My brother grimaced, “Um…”

“What? How bad is it?? Oh my god.”

“Um, well, they’re a little bit broken but I can’t see because of the blood.”

I scrounged up the money to fix my front teeth a few months later.  When the dentist filled my teeth and gave me the mirror to double check how they looked before she dried and sealed them.

“Oh.”  I said and brought the mirror closer. My gap between my two front teeth that I had had and liked since I was a teen was filled in.  I now had what looked like one giant white Chiclet crammed against a smaller Chiclet.

“Oh, my gap is gone.  I like my gap.”

The dentist looked at me strangely and went on to insert a piece of paper in between my two pieces of candy coated chewing gum pieces and created a paper thin gap and immediately began drying and sealing them.

When I got home Britt was like, “Oh my god, what happened to your teeth??”

He loved my gap and was devastated that it had disappeared.  He complained about it for years.  But he didn’t have to worry.  I’m a life long nail biter and night time grinder so it only took a few years before the enamel broke off my front teeth leaving not just the gap but teeth that had been shaved down to apply the enamel.  My teeth were worse than before.

I went back to the dentist for them to be fixed again. “Have you been biting your nails?”  She asked me.  “Of course!”  I answered.  “I also grind my teeth at night.”  She shook her head.

I had brought a photo of my teeth with the gap.

“Can you keep my gap?  This is what my teeth used to look like.”

This request was obviously against her dental training.  She begrudgingly started filling my teeth, keeping the gap.  She handed me the mirror when she was done and I had the two biggest front teeth, I mean, actual buck teeth.  My smile was unrecognizable.  I got up out of the chair, defeated.

“Don’t chew your nails!”  shouted my dentist on my way out of her office.

When I got home Britt just shook his head and wandered off to watch tv.

When the novocaine wore off I realized that my teeth no longer matched my bite.  Like, I couldn’t bite with my front teeth because they didn’t match up with my bottom front teeth.  I went back to the dentist and she ground my teeth down enough so I could bite down with them. They still looked weird and long.

A week or so later, as I was biting my nails, slivers of my new teeth began to crumble off.   It was a relief, really.  It took some of the length off and they better fit my crooked and ground down bottom teeth.

I went to look at the damage in the mirror. My teeth now had angled chips extending from my gap. It was at that moment that I gave up.

“Eventually they will just grind down to the size they were supposed to be.”  I told myself, chewing my nails contemplatively.

So I never went back to the dentist other than for cleanings and she is consistently disappointed in me for not conquering my nail biting habit.  She’d be really disappointed if she knew that I don’t even try to stop the habit.  I enjoy my nail biting and I will do it to the end of time.  And as far as my night grinding, there’s no stopping me, I’m a night grinding super star!

So that’s that.  I have settled into being at peace with my bad smile.  I’m not going to stop biting my nails or grinding in my sleep so I’m just not going to worry about my bad teeth and just think of them as adding to my personal style!

Just one less request for Santa this year.