Toothless: A look at health, both mental and dental

I’m scared that I’m losing my teeth.

I don’t mean that in a dream logic, “losing teeth means you’re having money problems” or whatever else. Even though I take good care of my teeth – brushing two to three times a day, using mouthwash, flossing most nights – I go about my day concerned that a cavity has started to form in my formerly pristine pearly whites. I have a sneaking suspicion that my still-present wisdom teeth have begun to stray off their God-given course, slowly but surely rendering my grill jacked up.

And still I have yet to see a dentist.

It has been a few years since my last visit, a result of going without health insurance for a time, but I am now fully covered so I no longer have that excuse. I don’t even fear or particularly dislike visiting the dentist. I actually enjoy it, always leaving the office feeling 10 pounds lighter, not devoid of all the plaque and tartar that had accumulated over the standard six month gap between visits.

And I still have yet to go.

I tried to make an appointment a few weeks ago, finding a place with good reviews near my work even going so far as to fill out their questionnaire online with my available hours and inquiring if they accepted my insurance. They did.

The office secretary called me the next morning to ask when I would like to come in. I was driving so I told her I would call back later in the day. I didn’t.

This has become something of a recurring theme in my life.

“I should fill out this application.” The deadline arrives. The deadline passes. The blank application still sits in my folder.

“I should fill out that direct deposit form,” I say every other Friday as I pick up my check from work.

“I should text Saeed, see if he wants to hang,” as I approach two months without talking to one of my closest friends.

I’ve always been a procrastinator. My papers are always written the night before. I sleep until the last possible minute to ensure I have just enough time to shower and make it to work or school, but not workout or eat breakfast. But it’s been fine because I usually got an A and I could always sneak in a workout at 11 p.m. before bed.

But I don’t have the same luxury with my teeth. I can’t turn around the structural integrity of my chompers the night before like I can pound out a term paper. They won’t hear an excuse that I’ve just been really busy lately and pick up right where we left off when I do shoot them that text like a good, low-maintenance friend.

You’ve only got the one set and when they’re gone, they are gone. No second chances. No do-overs. There are some things in life that you just can’t let slip or get lax on. Relationships. Opportunities. Teeth.

You wake up one day to discover that they’re crooked, rotting or worse: gone. You spend the rest of your life, lips pursed to hide the shame, knowing that if you had just done something sooner everything would still be ok. You’d have that thing to be proud of.

You wander through life, gumming at the things you used to be able to sink your teeth into. They mash around in your soft mouth for a bit before you give up and spit them out. Soon you don’t even bother trying to masticate. You stick to soft foods, puddings and applesauce meant for infants and the elderly: things you know you can handle easily enough.

You’ve lost your bite.

Don’t let it get that far. Take responsibility for your life. Text your friend. Apologize to your partner. Apply for that position. Make that appointment.

Otherwise, you’ll end up toothless.

Note: at the time of publication, the writer has still not made that dentist appointment.

David Tunis-Garcia is the managing editor and can be reached at