By today’s standards, I’m barely middle-aged. By Middle Ages standards, I’m as old as Methuselah. Do you know who Methuselah is? Neither do I; it’s something my grandmother used to say. I just looked it up. Apparently, he was in the Bible:
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
That’s pretty old, especially when you consider that young earth creationists think the whole works has only existed for 6,000 to 10,000 years. According to that bit of provably untrue silliness, Methuselah lived some 9.6 to 16% of the total age of the earth.
Anyway, this post is not about the idiocy of creationism nor is it about disputing yet another unpossible claim from the Bible; it’s actually about getting old and I’ve gone very far afield already.
Yesterday, as I was having lunch at a restaurant, I bit into a sandwich and felt something odd. No, dear readers, I didn’t bite into something horrid; the establishment was blameless. The something odd was that one of my masticators was being masticated by my other masticators. In a self-defeating practice, I ended up chewing on one of my own teeth.
Every single one of us who is old enough to have survived childhood is familiar with the concept of teeth falling out, since our entire set of pearly whites is replaced when we’re kids. Still, it’s been quite some time since I experienced a tooth falling out, and unlike last time, I have no hope that my mouth will magically sprout a replacement.
And, I wonder, why can’t it? Why don’t we grow a new set of teeth every five or six years? Our meatsacks are obviously capable of growing a whole new set of teeth, so why don’t they? It’s strange that we’re given one set to last less than a decade, and then expected to live the entire rest of our lives with only one more.
Then, I realized it’s because we aren’t built to live this long. Our life expectancy keeps getting long and longer, yet our corporeal meatsacks haven’t caught up. They haven’t evolved to re-create the things we need to survive, like teeth. Perhaps, if the human race doesn’t annihilate itself first, in a few thousand years, we will grow more teeth when the crappy ones we’re given fail, but for now, I’m stuck with a mouth full of crappy teeth. Actually, as of yesterday, I have less than a mouthful.
My family has crappy teeth. When my grandmother died, she had two real teeth. Two. With a legacy of crappy teeth already in place, my mom went and married a man with crappy teeth. My dad is 85 now and he has less than ten real teeth left. If we had a family reunion and you went into a shared bathroom at night, you would see jars of teeth soaking on the counter like some sort of creepy sideshow.
I had thirteen cavities in my baby teeth. Thirteen. Kids only have 20 twenty teeth. 13 out of 20 of my teeth were total failures. The dentist didn’t bother fixing them since my adult teeth would be coming in soon, so I limped along with thirteen cavities for a while.
When my adult teeth did come in, they weren’t all that great either. Within a year or two of having my brand new teeth, I already had a cavity.
You might be thinking, well, you should take better care of your teeth. I do take care of my teeth. I brush them at least twice a day and floss daily. I even use medicated mouthwash to no avail. You can’t overcome genetics. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it any less of a pig.
Given my history with teeth, it wasn’t a terrible surprise that one of them fell out decades before retirement age. The problem is the location. It’s one of my incisors in the front of my lower jaw, one right in the middle of where it says “incisor” in the diagram below:
One of the incisors on my upper jaw is already a complete fake and has been for at least fifteen years. I got that one after domestic violence monster knocked my real tooth out of my mouth with his fist. It sounds like an impressive display of strength, but his opponents, my teeth, aren’t all that formidable. Fortunately, that happened when I was working corporate and I could afford expensive dental work.
Unfortunately, now, I can’t afford expensive dental work. I can’t even afford inexpensive dental work. I have half-assed dental insurance now, but it will only cover a tiny portion of the expense of getting a new fake tooth, if at all, since it’s not considered preventative. There’s nothing preventative you can do for a missing tooth, so at least for the foreseeable future, I’m officially a slack-jawed yokel, just like Cletus.
If only we lived in an era where growing a new tooth ain’t no thing. If only I hadn’t been part of the class of working poor for the last fifteen years or so, I might have attended to it before it fell out. Though, it’s not very likely anyone could have done anything to save it.
My vision is failing, my teeth are falling out and shit ain’t what it used to be. In addition to all the other expenses I can’t afford, now I have to buy a new tooth. I hope I can find a dentist with a payment plan option. Ain’t getting old grand?