Saturday, 11 June 2011
Ever since I was ten years old, I haven't smiled without being self-conscious. One night, I was playing around with my cousin, trying to shove her blanket up on my top bunk. I was laughing, jumped up, and cracked my teeth against the railing. Half of my front tooth came off.
I remember clutching the two broken pieces so tightly in my hand, rocking back and forth on my haunches, crying. Begging with God to just rewind Time for just five minutes. It was a horrible, dreadful feeling and I'll never forget it. Even worse? The fact that I had to tell my mother and stepfather and knew I would be in the biggest trouble ever. So I lied about it but then they found out anyway and I had to go downstairs and my stepdad gave me this stupid stern talking to for about half an hour and the whole time I was thinking ..... seriously? I'm missing half of my front tooth you idiot.
The next day, we all did what was planned .... went to Bullens Animal World. There is a photo of me somewhere, sitting dumbly on a horse. With my mouth firmly shut ... I remember my cousins and sisters teasing me. "Smile, Eden! Oh, why don't you smile?"
I ended up getting a porcelain veneer. My smile was never the same again - you could kind of see a shadow behind it. And if I didn't get it replaced every few years, it would get discoloured and I'd get teased at school. I felt ugly for the rest of my childhood. And when I finally grew up and was allowed to get a crown - pfft. As if I would spend valuable drinking money on such a thing.
I was terrified of dentists by that stage anyway. Swear I got every bad dentist west of Sydney. Pricks that would drill with no anasthetic - I once got a filling, went and sat in the waiting room, and it FELL OUT. I didn't tell my mother. Just quietly spat it out when nobody was looking and put it in the bin. It was easy. Nobody was ever looking.
Not looking after my teeth has led me to some awesome "emergency" dental experiences in my twenties. Getting teeth ripped out, mainly. I only went when the pain was overwhelming - I can put up with a lot of pain, before I seek help.
Once when I was 27 and in another rehab down in Sydney, I needed a wisdom tooth out. The dentist there hated all the clients. He didn't give me enough anasthetic, so as I wept, he threw his tools down, and muttered how "... the painkillers are never enough for you people."
My sister Linda even offered to pay for a crown - for my wedding. Can you believe I said no? It's just pure terror, sitting in that chair feeling powerless. (Aside - in subsequent years, BOTH of my sisters have broken their front teeth and needed crowns. What's that about?)
A month ago, I woke up one day, and thought to myself, Eden - just go to the goddamn dentist. Get a nice smile, for the first time in your adult life.
SO I DID. I made a family appointment - me, Dave, Max and Rocco. That morning I tweeted "Today I am going to the dentist. I would rather pat a pet huntsman and call him Hubert." I received a lot of replies of support - the one that stuck in my mind was from Allison at Life in a Pink Fibro. She told me to man up - I could do this. Al, I could and I did - but I didn't just man up - I WOMANED up, baby.
My plan was to go first by myself, and then take the boys in to watch Dave. The opposite happened - so I had to pretend to be brave in front of my children. I wrote on my form under "Anything we should know?" .... "TERRIFIED OF DENTISTS."
A young, beautiful blonde woman with glasses is our dentist. My questions all went out the window when I saw her - all I wanted to ask was, "WHY would you pick this career path?"
I sat there and had a check up. She was so nice and gentle - I banned her from using the pick. You know, this thing -
This is the view of the ceiling ... genius:
Max and Rocco were braver than me.
My guys were utter troopers. Max needs one filling. Rocco is fine. Dave and I both need two fillings each, as well as teeth whitening, my crown, a few fixes for Dave.
I have been back to get my fillings - two appointments down, and two to go. My big news, for any of you out there who are dentist-phobes? It doesn't hurt anymore! Technology has come a long way. As soon as I sat in the chair she put numbing cream on. Then the needle - then she started her work. She told me, "If you have any questions, just put your hand up and I'll stop immediately."
She starts drilling - one second later I put my hand up so she stopped.
She looked at me, waiting for my question. All I wanted to ask was, "Are you fucking serious?" Because it still feels so terrible - sitting there while people hammer at your mouth. It's not right.
Instead I asked exactly what she was doing - if I knew, it would help. She said it was a good question - sometimes people don't want to know a thing. I made her show me each tool before she put them in my mouth - it's only polite.
It took less than hour, and did not hurt one bit. I kept thinking, I am the toughest bitch in town. And kept stroking my own arm, to calm myself down. I realised I had the P&O ad song from the eighties stuck in my head and it was very fitting. "Take me away, lovely lady, OH YEAH."
The appointment after that was the tooth whitening, which Dave and I flippantly decided to get. Halfway through it, I was so ashamed of myself. Some people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water and I'm sitting in a chair getting bleach and UV lighting on my teeth? To look pretty?
I sure didn't look pretty during the process.
So. Two down, two to go. Next appointment is to get my current veneer off, a temporary one placed on. Then they take a mold of my teeth to send down to Sydney to get my own, proper crown.
The very crown I should have got many, many years ago. (My sister Leigh has made me promise to take a photo before they put the crown on. What are the odds I will post that photo here? What IS a blog for, again? I always forget.)
Also - how sad is it, when you get a tooth pulled out? I always feel so low afterwards - like the loss of a friend. Tell me your dentist stories, computer. Who has the worst one of all?
Today is the 11th of June - on the 11th of every month for a year I'm doing my Year of Turning 40 series.
March I turned 39 - the stupidest age. Made a video about ... um, lapsing.
April Controversially announced where I live, after four years of blogging.
May Alex. That post has touched a lot of people around the world. I will do a follow-up of it soon.
This month .... I am giving myself the gift of a smile. Something I've wanted to do for - thirty years. Obviously, as soon as I get my crown I'll be killed in some kind of terrible accident so I won't get to show it off.
My dying wish will be to not only have an open coffin, but an open mouth .. this shit's costing a fortune and I want to get my money's worth. Can the mourners please single-file past my casket and admire my beautiful teeth? Luckily they'll have sunglasses on, so the white enamel won't be *too* blinding.