Smith is getting his eight remaining upper teeth pulled Wednesday, the day before Valentine’s Day. I’m glad that he’s getting this done because it’s been so hard for him to chew properly. When he gets used to the dentures, this will be easier.
I asked how it is he got such tooth problems:
“Number one,” he said, “I have small teeth. Number two, we were poor. Couldn’t afford much dental work unless we had to. Number three, from ’53 to ’60, I was raised on a farm with well water. So I didn’t get the benefit of the fluoride the government started putting in the water ’bout then. Number four, when I went into the Navy, they pulled some bad teeth and said they’d replace them. They lied. Number five: when I finally had some money and started going to dentists, I got stuck with some really bad ones. One dentist even took my straight bottom teeth and made them crooked with a retainer. Number six: since I was a contractor, there were times when I didn’t have any work, yet I had to get teeth fixed. So instead of getting crowns I couldn’t afford, teeth were pulled that shouldn’t have been. Finally, I just had bad luck with teeth. My karma; seems to be.”
“How do you feel about Wednesday?”
“Oh, I think getting false upper teeth is a setback to me. It’s a line I didn’t want to cross. But I’m not worried about it. They’ll pull them, they’ll give me pain pills. The only thing I’m worried about is the temporary upper denture that won’t fit well, won’t feel good, and I have a very high gag reflex. So… it’s not going to be fun.”
I’d not really given much thought to dentures prior to hooking up with Smith. My first memory of them was Grandpa Ireland popping the teeth out at us to freak us out. Grandpa ate anything. He ate salad, he could tear at steak, he could eat corn-on-the-cob. He had dentures most of his life due to having had some kind of illness in his teens.
“I’m not worried about eating,” Smith said. “It’s just a line I didn’t want to cross, losing my teeth.”
As a forty-year-old, witnessing Smith’s tooth problems helps keep me in line brushing my teeth and seeing the dentist regularly for cleanings. Being so much younger than my partner has had some costs but has also helped me to prepare better for the future. I’m starting an IRA, I’m taking care of my teeth, I’m really working on my diet and exercise with my comfort in the long term future in mind.
The downside of being with someone who is so much older is that there is a lot of worry over my partner’s health and sadness over the thought of losing him before I die. And the mysticism of older people is pretty much gone… my parents don’t seem much like parents to me anymore in terms of authority–now they are more like peers.