How I Bought Brown Teeth

My dentist was a nice man.  He hummed country music songs while he worked.  After he asked me the very first question, he didn’t ask me anything else ever.  He forgot to take his hand out of my mouth.  He didn’t hold it against me, though.  We went through a lot together, Swinford and I.  He had a son after I met him.  He said he was too old, but his wife wasn’t.  They didn’t plan on the son, I could tell.  Looking back on it, I think I made him crown all of my back teeth so I could feel good about helping out with the son he was too old to have.  I crowned too many.  He built a new office and bought a house in country club.  But, he was still a nice man.  And a good dentist.  I kept all of my teeth.  And, they still work  fine for eating and grinning too.

My Teeth (Whiter than they really are)

I come from a long line of Grinners.  We grin all the time.  That’s why I need teeth.  The first thing you see when you look at me is the biggest smile full of teeth you ever saw.

My teeth are solid.  I depend on them.  I can eat dinner faster than it’s polite to eat.  When I was a kid, I couldn’t pee my name in the dirt, but I could hang from a rope by my teeth.  The boys knew in their hearts that mine was the better trick.  Now that I am old, I have to smile whether I feel like it or not.  If old people don’t smile, they look mad or worse, they look mean.  I spent years reminding my mother to smile.  Now, I remind myself.  Never mind that I go around grinning like a monkey.  People don’t seem to notice the resemblance.  People like Grinners.

Selfie Grinner

Swinford had all of his teeth too, but they were brown horse teeth.  He was a handsome, sweet man so I only noticed his teeth in passing.  I wondered why a shoemaker would wear ugly, dirty shoes.  It’s bad advertising.  But, then, he thought teeth were for chewing.  That’s what made his new teeth worse than a “shocker”, as they say.   He didn’t send out an announcement or anything.  Nothing.  No warning about what I’d see.  When I walked into his office, my reaction to the new grin was about like seeing an old friend who suddenly has no hair and doesn’t bother to mention it.  You try not to look at it.  The more you try not to look at it, the more you look at it.  I was seized by an uncontrollable need to laugh.  I mean double-over kind of laugh.  The man had a set of the biggest, whitest teeth I ever saw in my life.  The awful part is that we both knew he had these teeth that we were refusing to acknowledge.  The elephant-in-the-room teeth.  It was a miserable visit, but I made it out of there without belly laughing.  By the next visit, he had toned the white down to a fairly normal shade of yellow-brown.  Thank God.  We didn’t mention the brown ones either.

In anticipation of his retirement, he  invited his old clients for a farewell/intro-the-new-guy-meet-and-greet at his office.  The new guy seemed very nice.  His wife and little girl too.  I paid no attention to him.  I would miss my old friend.  We went way back to my social worker days when he treated my clients just like everybody else and me like an old friend.  I was very sad to see him go.

Chair With A View

At my next dental appointment, six months later, I met my new dentist.  He took one look inside my cavernous mouth and rendered his verdict.  I had to go to an oral surgeon who would slice off the gums that were hiding two of my back teeth on both sides making it difficult for me to clean them well enough to prevent gum loss.  What?  Six months earlier, I had fine gums.   No way I was going the gum-slicing route.  I’d swish with the vile brown stuff and hope for the best.  Now, it seems to be working.  The up-side?  I still have my teeth.  The down-side?  They’re brown.

41 Comments on “How I Bought Brown Teeth

  1. Pingback: Low-Tech Tuesday: Photo-App « Dark Pines Photo

  2. Dear George, I can see that you are in the process of changing your lay-out. However, for the moment, I can’t read any of the writing on your post except the bits in red. I’ll go back to the Email to read it. Hope you have the blog sorted out before I get to the next post. Love, Marilyn


    • I read it on the Email and came back to look at the photos, only to find that the site is legible again. I had a good chuckle over the post. Very funny! I keep as far away from dentists as possible!


  3. This post has a bit of a bite to it.
    It makes a point with a grin.
    Thanks for the smile. 🙂


  4. My grandfather was a dentist. I have very mixed feelings about the profession. That man used to pull teeth for fun. But I know teeth are important and they seem to more about them than I do. But I would get a second opinion, if I were you…


  5. I don’t know how I missed this post! I’ve been seeing my dentist for 16 years and have become friends with both him and his hygienist – and yes they both talk to me constantly and ask many questions that go unanswered because my mouth is full of equipment. After each visit I get a little anxious thinking what on earth would I do if he retires or moves his practice. You’ve reminded me that there are many Dr. Doogies out there in the world!



  6. I had no idea Swinford had retired. I would certainly miss him if we were still in Victoria….and I definitely would not swish Doogie’s Dope either!!!!! I hope you’re seeking another dentist by now! I’m sure you know they had two sons, one of whom was the valedictorian at VHS. The younger son, Taylor, is probably in college..or maybe out by now.


  7. I loved this story! Especially the elephant-in-the-room part! *giggle*. I have always been terrified of the dentist. Until my accident. I landed on my face after being run over by a speeding motorbike. I now have 15 beautiful, straight, new teeth. I love to grin! My dentist walked a long, painful, difficult road with me, 5 )ears later, we have a great relationship. He’s one of my heroes!


  8. posts like these will make every one a grinner 🙂
    what a lovely office that is…beautiful view
    my dentist is a gloomy person sent back from the hell to attend to us..not that we dont have more but this one is near and somehow i refuse to believe there is no good inside her..
    Oh btw I come from a family of grinners fact i have been punished for grinning in the class..well not grinning but couldnt tell the teacher why i was( she was the reason)


    • Oh, dear! I got in trouble in school for grinning at the wrong stuff too. Ah, why can’t people just be happy and nice to each other and especially to kids! 🙂


  9. I’m a grinner too… good luck finding an image of me online, as I am usually the one holding the camera, but growing up people used to think I had false teeth, because they are perfectly straight.. I personally always liked crooked teeth… to me that they had way more character.


    • Ask that of a crooked-tooth person! 🙂 Give us a Selfie, now Tracie! We need to know the face behind the wise girl in the posts. Seriously. I like to know who is talking to me, don’t you?


  10. Ugh. Dentists who make disgusted looking faces aren’t for me. Swinford, on the other hand, sounds like my kind of dentist. I’ve got a nice dentist now, but I’ve had a deep dread for going to the dentist my whole life. Lillia goes to a pediatric dentist who is fantastic. They’ve been building a great rapport, but he’s retiring in a few months. At least he’s gotten her off to a good start (in terms of a positive association with the dentist).

    You’ve got a wonderful grin. I’m sure it puts lots of people around you at ease.


    • Dr. Doogie is a nice man and a very competent dentist, of course. I’m no seriously suggesting otherwise. He’s just young and serious. I will teach him to have more fun. 😉


    • Ha Ha. I see that! I think you might have one up on even me! Smiles don’t hurt one bit, do they!


  11. i’ve been told i have very white teeth, but i don’t see it so much. however, my dentist says it too, and i don’t think she’d lie. i love my dentist. she’s great. looks like you’ve been treated well too.


    • Actually, I don’t have white teeth. The Lomoish effect gave me white teeth! I drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. So, I guess they’re as white as one could expect. I still have them to chew and grin with and that’s a good thing. As much as I talk, dentures would fly across the room. Implants hurt. Guess I’ll keep my own set of teeth!


    • Naomi, these are perfectly reasonable, normal people. Nothing like the characters I paint. I just think human behavior is mostly ridiculous and funny. If a sane person told this story, it wouldn’t be funny at all. I like funny better since we can’t change stuff; we might as well laugh about it.



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