Golden Lucy's Spiral Journal

Going on 87...Savoring and Surviving the Senior Years

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Smilin' Though

We finally got a look at Ben and Teresa’s professional wedding pictures. They were all wonderful! I think I look pretty foxy in this photo. I couldn’t stop smiling---it was such a happy day. Too bad I forgot to wear my teeth.
Yes I did. I was halfway down the aisle before I realized my lower partial plate was parked on my bathroom vanity and not in my mouth. Naturally I was horrified and resolved not to open my mouth during the festivities. However, as most of the photos attest, I never stopped smiling and undoubtedly also never stopped talking. Fortunately neither the priest nor the guests snickered and/or whispered “neener-neener-neeeeener! as I passed. But I was properly humbled---and that’s not an easy thing to do.

The good thing is that I can take comfort in the knowledge I’m not alone. Maria, our glorious Silver Fox recently related ( the hilarious story of Bob’s missing partial plate. But I definitely came out ahead. Bob was the hapless victim of perfidious pet chicanery. I was the inept instigator of my own misery. (I also didn’t get dog spit all over my false teeth, which I view as a real plus.)

The new AARP bulletin featured an article on the growing dental needs of seniors. This made me think about all the problems my teeth have given me over the years, and how much dental care has changed in the last 80 years.

As a young child I never remember going to the dentist. Nobody I knew went unless they wanted a tooth yanked out of their head---a buck per tooth was the going rate as I remember. I had my first permanent tooth pulled when I was 13. I recall a tall glass cabinet with many little drawers, a porcelain bowl for spitting and a white enamel dental chair with a foot pedal and black leatherette head rest.

The dental office was in the dentist’s house and his wife was his assistant. She always referred to him as “Doctor.” You know, as in “Doctor will see you now.” As a child a wondered if “Doctor” was actually his given name, but in any case his wife was always reverential and deferential when she talked about him. (Although I later heard she ran off with an Episcopal minister from Scotland. I wondered if he had a Christian name.)

“Doctor” was merry fellow with a wooden leg. (I always hoped to get a gander at it but never did.) On rare occasions he would decide the tooth could be saved---if you had the extra fifty cents. He didn’t believe in anesthesia and both filled and pulled teeth without it. “Let’s get rid of these bad brownies!” he’d chirp as he proceeded with his excruciating poking, prodding and pulling. Ah yes, those were the days.

Even after I could afford my own dental care I seemed to have bad karma when it came to choosing a decent dentist. For example: There was the dentist whose aged dentist-father appeared standing over his son’s shoulder whispering in a vicious sotto voce, “Not like that, stupid!!” (I’m not making this up.) Unfortunately, even though I resolved not to return to that office the damage was done.

The irony is that having the benefit of dentistry today I’d no doubt have nearly all my teeth. My tooth enamel is very strong, my teeth are aligned and straight. There’s little doubt most of the dentists that treated me in the past expected I’d eventually have false teeth---didn’t everyone? Pulling teeth was more cost effective for them so why not?

Today I bitterly regret this kind of expediency. My last visit to our current dentist was an exercise in frustration. Dr. Letha Robison is a genius, an artist and a wonderful human being. (Run, don’t walk to this dentist.) She has done her best for me but the truth is I’m past dental redemption. The thousands of dollars required to save my remaining teeth, secure implants and “fill in the blanks” isn’t for me, a good investment. I’ll live with the dental anomalies I’ve grown accustomed to. But don’t worry. I’ll keep smiling anyway.


  • At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Claude said…

    Lucy, I think this is the most hilarious post I have ever read! I can't stop laughing. How can I go to sleep (1 o'clock in the morning here) after such a laugh? You look stunning in that photo, teeth or no teeth.
    I loved the idea of a competition between Maria's Bob and yourself! As for your dentist's stories, they're too much!
    I always enjoy reading you.

  • At 5:04 PM, Blogger millie garfield said…

    My mother took me to the dentist when I was about ten years old and asked the dentist what could be done about my crooked teeth.

    As you mentioned in your post, the best way a dentist dealt with a "tooth problem" was to yank the tooth.

    His advice to my mother was, "when she gets older we'll pull the teeth." True story!!

    Fortunately my mother did not take his advice and eventually I had my teeth straightened, by a different dentist.

    BTW that is a great picture of a lovely looking lady, teeth or no teeth!

  • At 6:13 PM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    Thats a beautiful picture, teeth or no. I'd never have known you were missing yours if you hadn't said so!

    Around here, the first reaction from both dentist and patient is still to pull a tooth, due to the expense. I lost my previous dentist when he went to prison. Now I've finally found one whose philosophy is to save the tooth if at all possible.

  • At 6:22 PM, Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said…

    lucy, lucy, your back online! add my vote to those who say you look just wonderful in the wedding photo.

    claude is right: you have a way of telling about your foibles, haven't used that word in a while, that guarantees a smile or laugh from the listener. dentists supposed to have a high suicide rate because they we hate to visit them. maybe it's really they know they screw up often.

    go to hear your voice again.

  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Lucy said…

    He he he --- you are so funny Lucy and you look fabulous - simply fabulous!

  • At 6:40 PM, Blogger Rain said…

    Great picture. You look very pretty in it and your hair looks great.

    I have a missing tooth in a bad spot on the top row, but it's past the point of doing anything about it. It's only noticeable if I smile really broadly. The teeth closed in around one on the bottom that was pulled when I was in high school, but the top one was when my kids were babies and I just couldn't see the money for a replacement tooth at that time. It was before crowns became so common and maybe today the tooth would still be with me.

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger saz said…

    Lucy - What a wonderful picture of you! I'm glad you posted it - I just saved it to my computer to remind me what my goal look as good as you when I turn 60! Truly.

  • At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Maria said…

    How beautiful you look in that photo and no one would ever know from that sweet smile that you were missing your lower partial plate.

    Bob and I both laughed ourselves silly over your dilemna made funnier for us with your mention of how our Doxie, Sammi, stole Bob's lowers.

    However, Sammi wants you to know she does NOT drool and the teeth were made of a material so hard she couldn't even leave a tooth mark on them.

  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger Ginnie said…

    Yes, you do look "foxy". It's a great picture and a fun post. Your dental references reminded me of the dentist I had as a young girl...he had the worst halitosis of anyone I've ever met!

  • At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Bob said…

    Hi Lucy - What a charming story – truly a laughing scenario - since you mentioned me & my recent dental dilemma I'm wondering. Of course I realize I'm only known in your circles as Maria's husband Bob. But, now that we've received this amusing small screen exposure shouldn't we consider joining the Screen Actors Guild as a team in order to be cast in some future popular episode such as "Where's the beef?" or perhaps a "Candid Camera" clip.. I'd be perfectly happy to be the "fall" guy completely sub inordinate to your testy remarks. Think about it please and advise me. CdrBob.

  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger bunnygirl said…

    Well, I think you look great in that pic, and I wouldn't have noticed the missing plate if you hadn't mentioned it.

    I got lucky in the dental department-- I inherited the genes on the New Mexico side of the family. Tough enamel, and cavities that recalcify. Seriously. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I figure it's God's way of making it up to me for giving me asthma, LOL!

  • At 10:00 PM, Blogger Savtadotty said…

    Oh Lucy, you know how to rise above embarrassment like a Queen! Ah, the nobility of you!

  • At 3:59 AM, Blogger MizMell said…

    Medicine has come a long way, I'll have to agree.
    Your post made me recall my childhood dentist Dr Hurt (no kidding, his real name!). He was super gentle though.
    The dentist who removed my wisdom teeth was another story -- I was black and blue for days!

  • At 8:37 AM, Blogger Joy Des Jardins said…

    We all have "dentist" stories to tell...some more horrifying than others; but thanks Lucy for the comic relief for the day.

    Dentists! I've personally never had any REALLY BAD experiences, but I've sure heard a lot. My mother was a fanatic about teeth...went to the dentist twice a year without fail. She lost her own teeth fairly early in life and vowed that it wasn't going to happen to HER kids. Enough said. I actually do appreciate her setting the groundwork for good dental habits. Unfortunately, I haven't followed through quite so well as an adult. My mother is probably frowning down on me right now.

    This picture of you is just lovely and all.

  • At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Mike said…

    And a BEAUTIFUL smile it is - that's an absolutely radiant picture. Thanx for the smile today. ;0)

  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said…

    Ohhhh Lucy My Dear..First of all, Thank you for your very dear and kind words...and Second of all, I wish you a Very Very Happy New Year, too!
    And third...If I had all the money that has been poured into this mouth of mine since age 12, I could have bought a house in Hawaii right on the Beach!
    Some day I may blog about, or not! (lol)...I had some wonderful dentists and some terrible dentists....So many retired on me...Anyway, I LOVE your story about forgeting your partial on the sink at home! Glad it didn't stop you...And, I HOPE your Shoulder eases up on giving you fits...It's so hard to be away fro our Blog Buddies...I mean, I'm hooked, like a junkie!
    I send you BIG HUGS and Healing Prayers, too, my dear dear Lucy.

  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger Bev Sykes said…

    Lucy, you have a beautiful smile. I'm glad you smiled at the wedding!

    I wrote my dental history the first year of my journal.

  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger kenju said…

    Lucy, this is soooooo funny! I, who have spent countless hours in various dental and periodontal chairs, salute you!

    Unfortunately, I am in the same boat as you; the amount of work (and the cost of it) to bring my teeth back to their beautiful teenage state is insurmountable and not cost effective, given my age. I watch Extreme Makeover, esp. the dental parts with longing, but they wouldn't bring me to the show at my age, I suppose. In my next life, I am going to floss 3 times a day and not kiss anyone until I am engaged.....LOL

  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger Maya's Granny said…

    You look lovely.
    Dental science has certainly improved down the ages, hasn't it? I have an entire top front section of my mouth that would be my own teeth instead of a bridge that needs implants if it had gotten better just a little faster. We can only do what we can do.

  • At 1:46 AM, Blogger Roberta said…

    That is a lovely picture. You look totally stunning.

    I have to tell you that the forgotten partial plate reminded me of the day I was forced to answer the door without my teeth. Couldn't remember where I put them. It was a neighbour and when he saw my red-faced embarrassment and my awkward attempts to cover my mouth, he spoke up. "It's okay, Roberta. I'm not here to kiss you, I'm here to talk to your Hub." Maybe you had to be there but I thought that was the funniest thing I've ever heard. Certainly made me feel better anyway.

  • At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Alan G said…

    Hello there foxy lady...toothless or not! :)

    Great stories as usual. As far as the dentist experiences you related - thank goodness I never heard "Not like that stupid!" least not yet.

  • At 11:22 AM, Blogger Ginnie said…

    Lucy: I just wanted to write a special "Thank You" are so supportive and it really helps. I love writing the articles and I'm so happy that you enjoy them. I am trying to be scrupulously honest and sometimes it hurts.
    All the best, fondly, Ginnie

  • At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Chancy said…

    Lucy, I well remember those early years when we did not go to the dentist unless we had terrible tooth pain. There was no such thing as preventive dentistry back in my early years. Luckily I have all my original adult teeth minus one and I go regularly every six months for cleaning etc.

    Lucy- You are Such a trooper. The show must go on even without your lowers.

    But don't feel bad. You looked just lovely. And remember Elizabeth Taylor went to Liza Minella's wedding as matron of honor in her bedroom shoes. They rushed la Liz back to her hotel for her shoes by limo :)

  • At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I saw your comment on Naomi's blog re: your doctor advising you to avoid using the computer. Consider getting another doctor! Like the dentist who considered every (female) ("old") patient a "Rodney Dangerfield"--No respect, no respect--I'm sure he prefers "senior citizens" who "know their place". The right answer to a lady whose shoulder needs r&r is a voice control program, so you can settle back and blog from the bathtub, if necessary. Our tax dollars paid to develop that technology; take advantage of it! There are free programs around, as well as commercial ones available at reasonable cost. Check with your computer guru, and the Braille people etc. Blogging is probably better medicine than some of the pills he's pushing. Hope you feel a-1 soon. After all, you can't do the lambada if you got the lumbago!

  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said…

    You DO INDEED look foxy, AND you get an extra 50 blog points for using the word perfidious.
    I've been lucky in the teeth dept. I didn't have to wear braces, and so far, my teeth are strong. My kids are currently wearing those cool (and costly) Invisiline clear braces.
    I'm glad those old dentistry days are gone. I hate going to the dentist as it is now. I can't imagine having a cavity filled or a tooth pulled without anethesia. OUCH!
    Keep on smiling, dear Lucy! It's one of your many great features.

  • At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is what I love about the more mature bloggers Like us. It's kind of amazing how much alike we all are, isn't it?? I think you just gave me an idea for a future blog...Teeth. I hope I can think of something funny to say about root canals. LOL

    I've waltzed out of the house several times without my lower "bridge". It clasped onto the two canines down on the lower jaw -- so along with the empty space between those two fangs, smiling meant I looked like a vampire. It was not a pretty sight. Now it is, though.

    The added teeth are absolutely wonderful and I have been chomping down a crisp apple every single day. (which I couldn't do for a long time)

    I can't say goodbye without telling you how very pretty you look, you would never know there were teeth missing along your lower jaw--really! You had your smile on that picture working perfectly!!

  • At 1:11 PM, Blogger Peggy said…

    I think that photo is beautiful.

    I feel your pain about teeth. I've broken two in the last month. Sheesh!

  • At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Coll said…

    Oh Lucy.. I think you look absolutely beautiful in this picture.. and if you had not shared your secret, I never would have guessed about the missing teeth. :-).

    Yes dentistrey has come a long way. Our children and grandchildren will benifit the most. I go to the dentist regularily but I must admit.. it is never an appointment I look forward to .

  • At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Terri said…

    Lucy, you're such a treasure! I agree with everyone else....had you not said anything, I never would have noticed.
    What a lovely photo of you and your genuine smile comes through in all you do....even your words, which I enjoy SO much. What a great sense of humor you have.

  • At 5:00 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said… have been very quiet again...It worries me, my dear...I hope all is well and that you are just resting on your laurels!
    I look forward to your next post, dear Lucy...I'm ready for a good laugh! Hugs to you, my dear. And As we come to this most sacred of days...I apologize if I have offended you in any way...I want to wish you A Happy New Year, once again....(Maybe you are sitting in Shul...!)

  • At 6:11 PM, Blogger Suzann said…

    Woo hoo - pretty Lucy - wouldn't have even known about the missing teeth if you hadn't posted about it. You look wonderful.

  • At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Joared said…

    You look great, Lucy, better than lots of people with all their teeth -- real or otherwise!

    Yeah, if those of us "of a certain age" could have had the benefit of all the dental care advances that have been made, coupled with the kind of care we've provided our children, we'd have beautiful white dentition, wouldn't we?

    I just feel lucky to have a full set of teeth with only a couple false ones inserted, but lots of fillings -- just got one today. What a breeze with laser rays for numbing, no numbing shots and their after effects, and the dentist said it was "a DEEP filling" -- no pain.

    By all means, keep smilin'!

  • At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Marguerite said…

    In the Scottish village I grew up in the minister's wife always referred to him as Doctor or Reverend Doctor. The old ladies called her Mrs Reverend Doctor. Perhaps it was the same lady ;-)

  • At 6:27 PM, Blogger Kay Dennison said…

    Lucy, Lucy, Lucy -- you look mahvelous! As others have said, I never would hsve guessed that you weren't wearing your plate! You are a fine-looking lady! Glad to know Ik'm not the only one who forgets stuff! :-)

  • At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Janice said…

    This is a great pic of you -- partials or not! But, I hear you on the dental pain. I'm jinxed, cursed, and voodoo'd when it comes to the dentist and hate to go more than any 6 yr old I know. But, yes, taking care of your teeth should be a priority for all of us. So, excuse me, while I run floss!

  • At 1:50 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said…

    Where in tarnation have you been??!!
    I surely have missed you.
    I hope you are well.

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