Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Corpse with the Beautiful Teeth

                                                  My teefs

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 -

                                    The pick and I go waaaaay back

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.

           The sunscreen on my nose? Why that's coz I'm so hot right now!

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.


  1. Oh god Eden, I struggled to even READ this post without cringing! I am not afraid of dentists, which is good, because my mother is a dental hygienist.. but I have a longstanding thing about teeth. Suprising, not. My mother is a hygienist after all. Freud would have a lot to say about that! I have had a reoccuring nightmare about breaking my front teeth or my teeth falling out since childhood. I don't know how I am going to cope when Amy starts losing teeth, that is going to be one childhood experience filed under DAD. Along with vomit! I confess to being ultra self-concious about my own yellowing teeth and you have inspired me to make that appointment and book that first world luxury - teeth whitening. Along with checkups for the rest of the family. Love you!

  2. Oh that a$$hole who took out your wisdom teeth should be shot. That made me shake my head in utter disgust. You poor thing!

    You'll be smiling bigger than EVER at BlogHer lovely. Your teeth might be pink though - from the Ribena.... :) Wooot!

  3. Great post, good luck with the smile! I don't dislike the dentist but I always feel like I have passed a major test if I don't need work, its like YES well done teeth!!!

    Love your dentist ceiling that is a really good idea

  4. Well braver than me i say! I have not been to a dentist in 17 yrs went to 1 only 2 months ago and after my check up i hit her in the face (yes punched) her for hurting me lol...
    I need almost $7000 done work 5 teeth out i have 6 holes and 4 missing all my teeth are rotting to the bone all sore i live now on codine (my new BFF)

  5. Oh babe, you read my recent teeth/dentist post? Diminishing Lucy: Snappers...

    WELL DONE EDEN ON GETTING IT SORTED! You are gonna be even more of a goddess!

    I have been again today.

    I know it's not as bad these days as it was. But shit, it still feels like I am being pinned down by some rapist thug, even though my dentist is the gentlest lady.

    I would honestly rather give birth with no drugs to a 10lb baby than go to the dentist. I have an estimated 24 visits remaining. My gob is gonna cost more than our house for fucks sake.

  6. I braved up recently and went to the dentist. I still don't want to talk about it. But the toothache is gone. I want the ceiling of your dentist. And I think you're pretty terrific x

  7. Well it's not my story, but my mother's BFF - she had dental work done 30 years ago in Scotland before she moved to Australia...

    It was on one of her teeth waaaay up the back, one of the molars, that you can barely see.

    So it's been slightly hurting on and off for these 30 years since having the filling or whatever, but not too much so and she's never had it checked out, just the usual scale and clean. Last year it started to hurt and didn't stop hurting for a few weeks so she decided to finally bring it up.

    The dentist thought it might be the root rotting so took an xray...

    It was *drum roll* the metal drill bit from 30 years ago! It had snapped off in her gum and the dentist had not said a word, simply left it in there and over the years her gum had grown over it so it was not visible.

    She ended up losing the tooth, and the drill bit but did end up with an awesome story that can almost always 'one up' someone else's dentist story.

    Your teeth with rock xxx

  8. I recently discoverd a lovely local dentist - Matthew. He has now pulled out two of my wisdom teeth. Didn't feel a thing, but did have the blood in my mouth for the next couple of hours. My body was in bit of a schock after the last one, after all it did have a bit of it pulled out!

    Next, I'm going to go and get some fillings done, before I lose any more teeth...

    Good on you, Eden. I see looking after my teeth as doing something for myself. Taking care of me...

  9. my dentist has a screen for playing DVDs on his ceiling. guess what movie was on when i had my wisdom tooth removed? you guessed it, The Tooth Fairy! xt

  10. You reminded me this Monday. Im gonna have two of my teeth uprooted. Goodluck to me...

  11. oh god, I get your dentist fear.
    I have it too.

    growing up in country victoria, we used to have the 'Dental Van' come visit every year. and it used to terrify all of us, we used to hear kids screaming from inside of it at recess and lunch times. and the smell. dont get me started on the smell.

    but because of my fear, i have terrible teeth. and i also cant afford to go to a good dentist either.

    but congrats on CONQUERING one of your fears.

  12. My mother has the fear of dentists - which has benefitted me, because she found us a dentist who was pretty good. And the guy I see now is fantastic. My daughter and I have our semi-annual cleaning appointment on Monday (I really don't want to get periodontal disease and have to have new gums sewn on, so I floss and go for regular cleanings).

    My sister is also a dentist...she now works on the dental bus and probably makes kids scream. (Actually, she's probably pretty good; she is a pediatric dentist).

    I love that whitening picture - that is hilarious. It would be awesome if you could make that your driver's license picture!

  13. Oh my Eden,

    As you know I have my own issues. Americans seem obsessed with our teeth -- and it is an immediate marker of social class here -- anyone with teeth not straightened with years of orthodontia is revealed as not having the money to do so -- and my mother, of course, wouldn't allow me to go through life without perfect teeth -- money be damned -- and so I had all sorts of shit done to my teeth from fourth through ninth grade -- SIX YEARS. And then my mother lost her job and I never went to another regular dental appointment -- a few here and there through the local clinics that worked on a sliding fee scale -- I remember vividly when I had dental insurance with my waitressing job and had my wisdom teeth pulled -- but then I went for years uninsured and without care. One day in 2002 (my year of absolutely dark depression) I was visiting a friend and I felt a crack while eating this Indian candy. It was my tooth. My upper left molar. My tongue still flips to that broken root tip (it was a tooth that had already had a root canal and had no money for the crown) -- and I sigh. It reminds me of my University filled with rich kids -- and how one night at the bar one man went around looking at everyone's teeth and came to me and said "perfect, of course" -- because no one knew. No one ever knew the truth about me.

    My teeth are liars. And they haven't been to the dentist in over two years. Now, I'm afraid, I'll have to go.

    Love you lady,



  14. When I was in 2nd grade, I was running through a department store, fell face down on the floor and cracked my front tooth in half. Getting that crown wasn't too bad.

    What is bad is that now that I'm an adult, my body metabolizes anesthesia like there is no tomorrow (and why the fuck can't it metabolize food that way?). It seriously takes like 9+ shots to put a crown on me. Man does it suck.

  15. You never fail to make me feel crack up or smile big. Love the photo-story.

  16. Good for you! I'm not a fan of dentists either, to the point where I haven't been in about 15 years. I really need to - I have two broken/cracked molars, but as long as they're not actually hurting, then I keep putting it off. Stupid, but I am dreading going, and dreading being lectured for leaving it so long. Money was a big factor for so long, but I have no excuse now as we have a dental plan as part of my husband's US employment package. Reading your post makes me think I should get off my arse...

  17. you're my hero. and fuck that rehab dentist right in his ass. i once was bitched at through an entire gruesome toot extraction by a fkng weekend emergency dentist that i had to beg to pull my tooth. i was poor, in college and i didn't have time to wait for some stupid crown because i had clinicals the next day. now, my cousin is my hygeinist and she cracks up yhe gas for my cleanings. it's wonderful.

  18. I'm not scared of the dentist, shit-scared of the bill though!
    I once had a dentist who had a maze on the ceiling, lots of stairs going up and down, in and out. I'd spend the whole visit trying to work it out and paid no attention to what was going on in my gob. All dentists should have one.

  19. I so get this. I was hit by a car when I was ten and busted both front teeth in half. We had no money for crowns or veneers, so I had white filling material bonded onto my teeth and it had to be replaced every year or two because it would discolour and turn all shades of embarrassing, soul-crushing brown. I know what it is like to grow up never wanting to smile; I know it down to my bones.

    I had my teeth fixed, finally, when I was twenty-six and I will never forget leaving the dentist's office and smiling for what felt like the first time in my life. GOOD ON YOU, Eden. I am cheering you on every step of the way.

    You are fucking fantastic; thanks so much.

  20. Look at how many of us are saying 'me too! me too!'. It's amazing that you can connect with so many of us. I'm ashamed to say I haven't been to the dentist for . . gosh - 6 years? Maybe I should follow in your footsteps . . .

  21. I learnt to never go to the dentist while 36 weeks pregnant. I ended up needing a tooth pulled and had to lay in the chair forever with my bladder the size of a pea. To top it off I'm allergic to paracetemol so once the local wore off I had to grin and bear it. Good on you for facing your fear.....I'm avoiding the place like the plague.

  22. Hi eden,
    I recently discovered you amongst the zillions in blogland. Deeply happy to find you! Great stuff.
    I have a blog (I'm a cartoonist) AND, as of yesterday, an abscess above my tooth.
    Here's my post about it
    Not traumatising, I promise. Just funny. Enjoy

  23. Hi Eden,

    When I was in primary school my mum bought me a cheap-ass pair of shoes until she could afford better ones. They were like 25 bucks from Payless and had crappy plastic soles. I hated them.

    One day I was running with my friends and tripped because my shoes were so bloody slippery and didn't have any grip. I had my mouth agape when i hit the asphalt and a big chunk of my front tooth chipped right off, like a quarter of it. I remember it so clearly, immediately wanting a time machine to turn back time just for a few minutes. I also remember running my tongue across the live nerve endings and feeling like I was being electrocuted.

    Ever since then I have been obsessed with teeth --> my teeth, other peoples teeth, dentists, orthodontists, the lot.

    I had to go back to the dentist sooo many times to get my front tooth fixed after the bit that was filled in started to discolour on a regular basis. I also hate going to the dentist because of the following incidents that have occurred in my life -

    1. A bit of metal equipment broke off during an extraction of a wisdom tooth. It is now stuck in my jaw and the fragment appears in x-rays. The dentist was having a fight with his assistant right in front of me at the time. He was too preoccupied accusing her of stealing dentist equipment to fish it out. Never went back to see him again.

    2. In my early twenties, I was once charged over $600 by a shonky dentist in Annandale to get a filling fixed that didn't even need fixing; I went to him to get my wisdom tooth out. Never went back to see him again. See above point for the wisdom tooth dentist.

    3. At 28 years old, I decided I would finally fix my cross bite and straighten my bottom teeth, so I got braces as an adult. I got a quote for the braces and was told that it would take only 12 months (max 18 mths) to fix my bite and straighten my teeth. Well nearly 2 years later, well 20 months to be exact, I got to the point where I actually demanded they get taken off. At that point, the orthodontist and I had had so many heated discussions as to when she would take the bloody things off, i told her I was moving interstate, and that no I wouldn't be continuing my treatment in Melbourne. She made me sign a waiver that I wouldn't take her to court because I was choosing to discontinue treatment!

    4. And then, just recently when I finally got my braces off I went to a dentist to get a basic clean and it hurt like crazy!! I thought going to a woman dentist would improve things. But she actually damaged my gums and was clumsy. And the whole time she is going, "Oh, Im the best dentist, don't you think, I don't even hurt do i, I need more patients, can you recommend me to your friends?!" I didn't have the heart to tell her the truth. Afterwards, she sent me an email asking me to be a fan of her Facebook page. Yeah, computer says no.

    Thank you Eden for sharing your story and helping me feel like Im not the only one with first world dental issues.

    Love Laura xx

    PS I am loving your year of turning forty posts, cant wait to see next month's!

  24. Oh wad the dentist. My husband hadn't been in years when we met, and was terrified. It took me a long time to convince him to go, and required sedatives before hand - a valum the night before and morning of, with lot of nitrous in the chair, and a sedative after the appt. I kept him on a good schedule for years, and then the dentist retired!!! the nerve. I finally found a new dentist who specializes in high anxiety patients and just got him back this past week. The poor guy has the worst teeth and needs a bunch of work done now. I had to promise him that we can do the sedation dentistry if he needs anything serious.

    good for you for womanizing up and getting your family to the dentist!

  25. Why do I connect so strongly with you? I’m not a redhead. I’m not 30 something, I’m not an Aussie, I’m no longer married, I don’t have step children, I haven’t done rehab, I haven’t had someone I live with diagnosed with anything terminal or truly terrible, I’m not white, I don’t own red boots and the list continues. I feel you so deeply in my soul anyway, and I gain strength from you almost EVERY time I read your blog. Thank you.

    I H-A-T-E, completely and totally, going to the dentist. I need to go, but can’t currently afford the price. Oh it totally isn’t ONLY the cash money; it’s also the price of having someone know just how bad my teeth are and the horrible shape of my gums. I will have dental insurance soon, and will follow your lead – I’ll book the first available appointment in September. Ugh – but thank you Eden.

  26. I was 5 years old and sitting in Sunday School at my auntie's church. For being good children through the lesson we were rewarded with a snickers mini candy bar. I tore into mine and got to chomping on those stale nuts. Later on, when I was telling my Mom about class, it was discovered that the "hard nut" in the candy bar, was apparently my newly loosened tooth. Bummer. So to make a long story longer, I had to write a note to the tooth fairy explaining my dilemma. Even though there wasn't a tooth as evidence, she left me my cash anyways. And that started my career in trying to extort more money from her with fake notes of disasters and missing teeth. So far, no deuce.

  27. Bless! Everyone deserves a beautiful smile. Well done for womaning up.

  28. Oh I too share your fear of dentists!
    Who is this woman you speak of and how expensive is she???
    I'm also in the Blue Mountains and in search of a dentist (though truth be told I've been looking for one for at least 5 years, and by looking I mean avoiding despite requiring).
    Will I need to take out another mortgage on my house?

  29. I can't say I'm terrified of dentists, more that I'm hostile toward their profession unless I'm in dire need. Each I've visited have been far too much like the dentist in "Little Shop of Horrors."

  30. Dentists are evil. I would rather go to the gynecologist once a month for a year than go to the dentist once a year. And I've had years where I think I managed that. As a matter of fact it's been several years since my last dental check up. You're right though, they've gotten better at the pain management thing and I really should make an appointment now. Dang it.

  31. I can not imagine getting a wisdom tooth out without drugs. I had all four of mine taken out at separate dental visits, and it hurts!

    I'm one of those weird people that loves the dentist. I don't love paying, but I adore my dentist. He tells lame jokes and treats everyone like it's their first ever dental visit. He also has a 3 month wait list... which is so frustrating.

    I love your honesty. xx

  32. For years, I've wanted to get my teeth whitened and fixed up a bit. I kept putting it off because my insurance requires me to pay up front first and frankly, the bill is always huge so I did the bare minimum. And now, I have my husband's insurance and I don't have to pay up front anymore, and I still haven't gone. I'm terrified of dentists. I hate it. I take an Ativan just to get my teeth cleaned. I find everything about it traumatic. I feel naked and vulnerable and miserable after every encounter with the dentist. I friggin hate it.

  33. After reading your post with my mouth so sore I cant eat I almost, almost considered making that appointment (havnt been since I was 11) But nope, the comments finished that little fleeting idea off!
    Oh god,drill bits left in gums? Oh the terror. I am very proud of you Eden. Good on you for 'Womaning Up' I just cant, so I will go back to my couch now like a baby and curl up with a hot water bottle on my face.

  34. I went to the dentist today. You motivated me, so Eden you have done (more) good in the world. xx

  35. God you've inspired me - another one with a broken front tooth who's had crappy veneer after crappy veneer replaced over the last 20 years. Far out. If you can do this, I can do this.

    Unrelated: Can anyone lend me $2000? ;-P

  36. God you've inspired me - another one with a broken front tooth who's had crappy veneer after crappy veneer replaced over the last 20 years. Far out. If you can do this, I can do this.

    Unrelated: Can anyone lend me $2000? ;-P

  37. I am catching up on some blogging while nursing my husband after his little trip to the dentist today. He has ground his teeth for so long and ignored the consequences that a molar broke in half on the weekend. It took two dentists almost 2 hours to remove the remaining portion of tooth. Good news is that my husband who is in agony, said for the first time he felt comfortable at this new dentist and has a follow up appointment to start the process of implants, crowns and veneers to give him a gorgeous smile. Yay!


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