I hate the dentist’s office.  I mean I hate it.  I don’t dislike the dentist, I am fascinated by all the gizmos, and I’m not really afraid of the pain–after years of orthodontia, leaning back in an office full of suction sounds is actually a little relaxing–but I have such shame associated with my teeth that going into the dentist’s office and opening my mouth for people to stare into is like asking someone to judge my greatest character flaws before a live audience.  Isn’t that crazy?

I had to go to the dentist this morning.  I’ve cracked a tooth and had to get that looked at.  I was talking to the dental assistant, going over my litany of, “This is not abnormal in my mouth, this is just what my mouth looks like,” and hearing myself try to make it funny, seeking her approval, and thought, “It’s just your teeth, Lane.  It’s not your soul.  Get over it.”

I’m not sure why I feel the way I do.  I brush and I floss, and my teeth are nice and even (Thanks, Mom and Dad! And Dr. Spencer!)  Part of my insecurity comes from the staining and malformations that I have from having taken tetracycline as a child–something only veneers would fix.  Part of my insecurity comes from the hereditary shape of my gumline.  Somehow I have it in my head that the imperfections of my teeth are indicative of me as a person, and somehow I have it in my head that dentists and their assistants are judging my life based on the amount of tartar buildup I have.  Nothing good about me matters because I have plaque (don’t google plaque. the images that come up are horrifying.)  I am more ashamed of having stained teeth than I am of having had a bankruptcy–and that was pretty miserable.  Note to self: Blog about the bankruptcy.

Objectively, I have pretty nice teeth. I have no idea why I have such a fixation on them. Decently sized, well spaced, even, and the staining isn’t so horrible you would run screaming from it. I’ve been told I have nice breath. What is my problem?!

I’ve written about this before.  It’s probably one of my weirdest character traits, and weirder still because I don’t make judgments on other people based on teeth.  Just my own.

Anyway, I have to have a crown.  Those things are ridiculously expensive!  I guess if you figure in the amount of wear and tear, and the number of years you can expect to have it, the cost isn’t that high, but I can’t help feeling that it shouldn’t cost as much as a month’s rent to fix one tooth.  That’s a racket.  (Of course I realize that the dentist has overhead, and that the camera he used to take an instant picture of my tooth, which was then prominently displayed on the large, flat screen television above my chair didn’t come free.  But, I really didn’t want to see my molar blown up to the size of my whole face.  The good news is, no decay!  The bad news is, molars are ugly when they look good, and mine didn’t look good.)