When I was 8 I knocked out my two front adult teeth. It isn’t even an epic story. I wasn’t punched defending my friends honour. I didn’t make an insane hockey save (like most Canadian kids dream of doing at least once).
I was goofing off, around a yellow plastic slide, at night, in a park, in the winter, at Brownie Camp.
February 1993 – 9pm at the park outside the Nepean Museum. I was trying to jump onto another Brownie as she came down the slide. I missed and smashed my face on the side of the slide. Obviously the ballet lessons I had when I was 5 had done nothing for my lack of gracefulness. Though my failed jump could also be the fault of, you know, winter boots, and well, snow.
My teeth, roots and all, were knocked clean out of my face by that frozen plastic slide. Being winter in Canada in February, my teeth disappeared beneath the snow, never to be seen again.
I don’t even remember there being any pain, just shock, and lots of blood. My mother (who happened to be one of my Brownie leaders) rushed to my side and held her puffy white mittens to my face as we shuffled inside to the bathroom. When she pulled them away, they were stained red with blood dripping off them like some low budget horror movie. I remember looking into the mirror and seeing the gaping hole in my smile. I didn’t even cry.
They were huge buck teeth, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing really.
Within a couple of week I had been fitted with a plastic, retainer-like appliance with two fake front teeth attached to it to fill the gap in my smile.
Not attractive, but really fun.
I learned to use my tongue to click out my retainer whenever I was bored or needed to do a Bugs Bunny impression. This was a great party trick until middle school where kids are just horrible little people. I have blocked out those two years, so moving on.
For High School I switched school boards for reasons completely unrelated to me not wanting to go to school with anyone who knew me as ‘Fake Teeth Girl’, though that was a huge bonus in my favour. I could start over, where maybe no one would notice that I had two fake teeth in the front of my face.
There was a slight problem. I had knocked my teeth out in Grade 3, and it was now 5 years later. I may have been petite, but I did grow, and so did my mouth, and the rest of my teeth just didn’t seem happy to stay where they were. Without my Huge Buck Teeth holding everything back, the rest of my teeth decided to claim the prime gum space for themselves, inching forward to close the gap.
By the time I got to high school, the two plastic teeth on the front of my retainer were together smaller than the real teeth they were between. It. Looked. Ridiculous.
Grade 10: Good-Bye fake teeth retainer. Hello Braces!
Since my teeth wanted to move anyway, it was time to help them along. Most other 15 year olds had braces too, so no one really cared. And with metal train tracks over my teeth, no one really noticed that two were missing. And a week later, I got glasses.
Luckily our school wasn’t too bad on the clique front. The football players were not the hottest or most sought after guys in the school: the hockey and rugby players were (hey, this is Canada.) We also didn’t have a cheerleading team, but our Reach For the Top (televised competitive trivia – just like the Mathletes in Mean Girls) – were National Champions!!
I was a drama kid, head of the Multicultural club, took photos for the yearbook, and sang in one of the choirs. My circle of friends ran the school (aside from actually being co-president of Student Council); they ran Athletic Council, Music Council, Drama Council, AV Club, the Newspaper, and the Yearbook. All in all, I had a great High School experience. Not bad for a kid with no front teeth.
I even had a boyfriend.
We met at a Joint Council of Ottawa meeting. It has nothing to do with marijuana, I swear. It was a council made up of teenage members of Girl Guides of Canada and Scouts Canada. The council would organize activities and camps for all of the members in Ottawa and the surrounding region. It was a nice, safe, supervised way for relatively harmless teenagers to hang out and go camping together. (Seriously, harmless. I mean, Guides and Scouts, come on.)
I arrived at my first JC meeting with a fresh broken arm. As in, that morning. I had been trying out for the girls touch football team at school. (yeah, touch football TRY-OUTS). It was my turn to do the running drill, and I fell while running backwards, and fractured my left radius.
I really should stay away from these whole jumping and running things.
He was the first person to come over to me at the meeting to say hi, ask about my arm, and sign my cast. We were High School Sweethearts for nearly 2 1/2 years and he went to a different high school. I still think that is pretty impressive considering we existed in a time before everyone had their own cell phone. No texting, no Facebook, which is probably why it worked.
With the end of High School fast approaching a realization washed over me: I desperately wanted teeth for Prom.
Most girls dream of the dress, the hair, the limo, etc. But nope, not me. I just wanted my braces off and to have what would maybe look close to two real front teeth. This would cost my parents an awful lot more than a regular prom.
Just weeks before the big day I had my appointment and four veneers were cemented to my now four front teeth. My eye-teeth and k9’s were reshaped to look like front teeth and eye-teeth, respectively. I was over joyed and my friends were really, genuinely happy for me.
It was great. Prom was great.
At the age of 18, nearly a decade after my dance with the slide, that holiday season was the first time that none of my “hilarious” uncles suggest I sing ‘All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth’.
Now, 22 years after that eventful night, when casual conversation occasionally turns to dental work, my friends and colleagues are surprised when I point to my mouth and say ‘these are fake.’ My teeth, or lack thereof, were once a defining factor in my life.
Now, I just smile… and stay away from yellow plastic slides.