By JO ABI
“It’s okay to want the best for yourself.” These words were spoken to me by my dentist shortly after he explained that to fix my teeth it would cost me around $6000.
A bit of fun oral history…
When I was seven I was with my mum and my sisters in a shoe store. You know the large, carpeted steps in most shoe stores where kids sit down for fittings? I was waiting for my turn, running around like a little lunatic when I tripped, fell forward and hit my front teeth on the corner of a carpeted step. My front, right, adult tooth came out – root and all. Blood spurted everywhere. My eight-year-old sister took one look at the pool of blood in my hands and fainted.
My mum retrieved the tooth, wrapped it in a wad of dry tissues and wedged another wad in my mouth to try and stem the bleeding in the giant hole. We drove to our regular dentist who took one look at my mouth and sent us to the dental hospital.
“You should have shoved it back in,” the horrible receptionist lectured us, obviously not moved by my hysterical crying and the alarming amount of blood now covering my clothes.
The dentist did just that and it freaking hurt…but it had been about two hours since the tooth had been rudely shoved out of my mouth and despite the fact it thankfully stayed in my mouth and fused with my gum, it died a few weeks later. RIP.
Enter my black tooth years as it slowly became darker and darker…hell for a girl on the cusp of adolescence and ruthlessly teased by her perfectly-toothed-“friends’.
I have NEVER had good teeth. I’ve been haunted by this incident my entire life and now here I am, almost thirty years later, still paying for the sin of not being able to sit still.
The tooth died, turned black, was bleached white and lasted until I turned twenty-something and then it started to rot and kill my gums so it was removed. I was toothless for six months while the gum healed (horrible) and then an implant was placed in. I was told I’d never have to worry about it again.
A few weeks ago the implant started to smart and become wobbly. I need work done on it. Initially the implant cost me around $6000 to fix and my husband and I managed to scrape the money together and we received hardly any back from our private health fund because it is deemed ‘cosmetic’. Cosmetic! This isn’t a boob job. This is my FRONT TOOTH. I need it. I lisp without it!
So we’re up for another $6000 and we just can’t spare it.
As I explained this through my tears today, saying things like, “What kind of mother would I be if I spent $6000 on myself, on my teeth, how irresponsible, how vain”, my dentist said those fateful words and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head.
“It’s okay to want the best for yourself.”
As a mother-of-three with bills coming out of my ears I have to admit that the thought of spending this money makes me nauseous. It’s selfish. Yes I want the best for myself but who am I to spend a large chunk of our savings on my teeth.
So they are mismatched. So they are discoloured. So I am reluctant to smile. So I think about my teeth every single day, multiple times and pay way too much attention to other people’s teeth.
Is it okay to spend our family’s money on getting the best for myself?
Jo Abi is the author of the book How to Date a Dad: a dating guide released by Hachette Livre Australia. You can read more about her many and various exploits here.