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October 10, 2007

My Mom's Tooth

I remember my brother being ridiculed by my mother for having stolen a car and getting in a head-on collision when he was a teenager, messing up the work those braces had done.

(When your parents are Depression-era, you're constantly reminded that it cost a hell of a lot to do things like fix your teeth.)

Sure, Mom was happy he lived through the crash (and Daddy was more mad about the car), but she was absolutely certain, from then on, that his "bad teeth" had everything to do with having wrecked his face.

My brother assured the family that genetics are a strong thing and that all he had was exactly his version of "Mom's tooth" that juts out and turns, just for fun. Of course, Mom was certain that it was the fault of teenage recklessness and that alone--as further evidenced by the fact that I had braces and, therefore, did NOT have that jutted out tooth. The end. Car wreck = messed up teeth. No car wreck = perfect teeth. Thank you, braces.


So, tonight I'm looking in the mirror and I see this tooth. It is my mother's tooth. Absolutely, positively, 100% my mother's tooth... right there on the right side of my mouth.

And I wore my braces and didn't total a car and even wore my retainer as directed by the orthodontist, well into my late teens.


But. I know this about my mother: If she were still alive right now, she would look at my mouth and say that I didn't treasure the gift that was the orthodontic experience she provided--as a single parent strapped for cash, grateful for the subsidized lunch program that allowed me to eat at least one full meal each day (even though it was usually a sloppy joe or fish sticks or overdone greenbeans with a slab of ham)--and that I clearly wasn't wearing my retainer for as many years as that damn thing would fit me.

And then my brother would enjoy being right.

I and then--and only then--I would say to my mom, "Y'know, you're right. If I had worn my retainer more, my teeth would still be straight."

That's what siblings are all about. Then, now, and forever.

Posted by bonnie at October 10, 2007 12:05 AM


How did you avoid crazy headaches/jaw pain from not wearing your retainers? were your teeth not extremely out of alignment to begin with? I can't even go one day without mine. I start getting TMJ attacks cuz my teeth start to move.

Posted by: Amy at October 10, 2007 10:00 PM

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