Friday, February 25, 2011

A Flashback Friday To Sink Your Teeth Into

What are your dental memories of childhood? Who pulled your baby teeth and how was it done - with a tissue, string, or other method? Was it a traumatic experience or no big deal? Did you have to have any teeth pulled by the dentist? Did the tooth fairy visit your house? If so, how much did you get for each tooth and how long did that last? How old were you at your first dental visit? Did you go regularly? Did you have any/many cavities as a child? Was dental hygiene taught in school? Was flossing a big deal when you were growing up? Did you have braces and, if so, for how long? Did you have to wear rubber bands, head/neck gear or other additional "accessories"? Did you need braces but your parents couldn't afford them? Have you had braces as an adult? Do you have any fond/funny//traumatic memories of old relatives or friends and their false teeth?

Oh, where do I even start?! When I first thought of this topic, I had no idea it would take so many rabbit trailsdirections! Who knew that teeth would spark such an onslaught of memories?

Pulling Teeth & the Tooth Fairy
I tried to avoid having any teeth pulled by my dad. He always wanted to pull them way too soon, and he used this heavy-duty black thread. I never saw him or my mom use that spool for anything else. Fortunately, he wasn't the type to tie it on the doorknob and slam the door (which I think is just downright cruel!) but he did loop it around the tooth and give it a good yank! It always hurt! So usually I would just keep quiet about it if I could and work it back and forth with my tongue or my fingers until it was barely hanging and then get my mom to pull it with a tissue. One time I made the mistake of bringing her toilet paper to use, and we quickly discovered that disintegrated into a mess the minute it hit my wet mouth! I couldn't stand to pull my own teeth, and I never pulled my own kids' teeth ever. I don't know why but it just gives me the heebie-jeebies. My kids pulled all their own teeth. I also don't remember ever losing a tooth at school. No Tooth Fairy ever came to our house when I was growing up.

Dental Hygiene & the Dentist
I remember that I rarely brushed my teeth when I was really little. It just wasn't as emphasized as it is today. And dental floss didn't come out until I was in my teens. I do remember that in elementary school the school nurse would come around with the toothbrush and set of teeth and show us how to brush our teeth. Then she gave us all packets with toothbrushes and we brushed our teeth, and then chewed tablets that turned all the places red that we missed!

I think I was around eight years old when I went to the dentist for the first time. My permanent teeth had come in, and I was a buck-toothed child. I was headed for braces. I never minded going to the dentist until the doctor discovered on my pre-college physical that I have a heart murmur and I had to take antibiotics before every dental visit, even cleanings. The antibiotics made me so nauseous and sick that it was a major ordeal. I think my dentist was as happy as I was when the AHA revised the protocol a few years ago and no longer recommended antibiotics for cleaning and minor procedures!

I was in sixth grade when I got braces. I remember being really excited about getting them because I hated my buck teeth. I could hardly close my mouth because my front teeth were so big and protruded so much. I wish I had thought to find one of my school pictures from fifth or sixth grade. I also had a horrible bite and couldn't chew well at all. I had to chew and chew and chew and finally spit out most meat other than hamburger into my napkin. Before I could get braces, I had to have four teeth pulled, two on each side to make room for my teeth to move. Two were permanent teeth and two were baby teeth that didn't have any permanent teeth behind them. They did two at a time so I could at least chew on one side as I recovered. Then a few days before the braces, I had to push these brown rubber separators between my teeth to make room for the braces. Back then braces were wide metal bands that went all the way around each tooth. As excited as I was about braces, that quickly wore off when the soreness kicked in! I could eat nothing but soup for days! Then there was the neck gear, which I wore for months. That not only hurt my mouth but my neck as well! Oh, and the rubber bands and the agony when one would pop in my mouth and sting my tongue! Every month I would see the orthodontist and get my archwires changed and tightened and I would be sore for another few days. And if they didn't get the end snipped close enough, I had to cover it with a little ball of wax until I could go back to have it cut. I wore them for just over two years, and then when they had to yank them off, I thought they were going to pull my teeth out! The next challenge was learning to talk with the big ol' retainer piece on the roof of my mouth. I was amazed at how much easier the process was for my boy. But it was worth every minute, and I'm so grateful my parents, as frugal as they were, prioritized braces and fixed my teeth.

One quick story that is the saddest braces story I've ever heard: The pastor of our church when I was little had horrible teeth; they were so pitifully crooked. He told us once that he had worn braces for seven years. SEVEN. The day after he got them off he was in a bad car wreck and his teeth got all messed up.

Cavities & Dentures
My parents gave us some good teeth genes. My daddy died three weeks before turning 75 and he still had all of his teeth and not a single cavity. My mom didn't have any cavities until she was in her forties. My brother and one sister never had braces and have no cavities. My missionary sister and I never had any cavities until after we had braces. That's a pretty good track record!

Because dental care is so much better now, my kids have never had the fun of having a grandparent with false teeth. They've never watched their grandmother take her teeth out to brush them or leave them soaking in a glass overnight. And they've never giggled when she talked to them with her teeth out! Or watched her while she played dominoes and as she contemplated a move, shifted her teeth around and slid them halfway out of her mouth with her tongue. They just don't know what they're missing!

Now it's your turn. Don't give us the brush-off! Share your memories and link your blog here.


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Susan said...

Oh how my jaw hit the floor on this one. I am terrified of the dentist. This was a great topic to flashback to though especially since I've got a visit coming up soon. Perhaps I can get some courage reading these.

Jim said...

You did good here with the rabbit trails, Linda! I liked your tooth pulling tactics to stay away from your dad. All of us VERY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE do that.

Come to think of it, perhaps it is the Dad (pat us on the back) who is the intelligent one, psyching the kids to do their own thing. I would have hated to pull any of my kids teeth even though I have threatened over just about every tooth that was a little bit loose.

Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

What a fun post and what memories this brought back for me. Some, not so fond!

Have a most wonderful Friday and weekend! Blessings!

Kim said...

Oh I laughed and cringed in equal parts reading your memories! OUCH!

Cindy said...

I'm also phobic about the dentist thanks to a bad experience with a grumpy old dentist who didn't want to numb a tooth before drilling then yelled at me when I objected.

If I ever need more work done, they'll have to use IV sedation.

I never had braces but all four of my kids did. When people comment on their beautiful smiles, I remember what we paid for them! lol

rita said...

Linda, this is a great exercise in remembering and writing. And you always do so well in both areas. I am always amazed at the descriptive detail. I did not write about the soreness, having to lift my lip sometimes so as not to catch it on some wire or metal in my mouth. Nor did I mention that I never heard about flossing till I was an adult.
As I researched online to help the memory process, I read that for a time the use of stainless steel was controversial. I wonder what metal they used on me? And X-rays were not used until the 1960s.

I could have mentioned that my grandfather did NOT go to the dentist until he was in his 60s. By then his teeth were worn down to almost nothing; he liked to chew on bones. ;)

I now have to take an antibiotic before going to the dentist for the same reason as you.

bp said...

This one was such a fun topic. I forgot about those little tablets that turned your teeth red.

Fun memories! Have a great weekend!

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

I may have to do an edit...reading all the different memories brought some many other things to's funny how reading about someone else's experience will spark a memory of your own.

Great prompt!

Have a great weekend

Kathy said...

You really did have a lot of "tooth memories", didn't you? LOL
As always, I enjoye reading your post! Thanks for hosting :)

Crystal Mary said...

Gosh teeth...I am now in my sixties and hope I still have my own teeth at seventy now. So much to remember about the past and how it we were not encouraged to brush our teeth or care for them in any way. Your father did very well. I'd say he drank good water and was not a sweet eater.
Have a great day.

Kristal Byrnes said...

I had braces for a long time too, but thankfully never had to wear the big head gear that went with it. The pain was intense for the first few months though. After a while, it just became another part of my day. I didn’t miss the pain when my braces went though, that’s for sure! The retainers took a bit of maintenance, but it all paid off in the end. I’ve never been happier to smile for the cameras!