Thanks to Laura Brown at Two Writing Teachers for inviting me to participate in the Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge. Since this is a food blog I will try to keep it on topic.
But I need to start with teeth.
I’ve always been very conscious of teeth. My teeth, my mom’s teeth, other people’s teeth. Disclosing tablets were a thing in my family growing up: little red tablets that dissolve when you chew them and highlight the plaque on your teeth.
After chewing the iron tasting pill, I would then proceed to brush as much of the disclosing tablet color (think red-pink) and plaque off my teeth, but the final check came from mom. It didn’t matter that I brushed my teeth for the full two minute egg timer, where the sand in the hourglass trickled down as I brushed, mom would always come in for a second look. Which usually involved her brushing more vigorously on my back teeth and reminding me how important it was to get all the plaque off everywhere.
“Oh-aye! I ot ieth!” I would say: because, in my house, toothbrush-in-the-mouth is my mom’s second language. She would hand me back my Big Bird tooth brush because I said, “Okay! I got it!”
As I got older, I made my own lunch; “Okay, I got it!”
Mom has always been a certifiable health nut. Much to my smooth peanut butter loving spouse’s chagrin, I learned to pour all the separated oil off the top of any natural peanut butter jar, (“What happened to the peanut butter? It’s so dry!?”) and then I’d use only a very thin spread of jam on whole wheat bread with hard crunchy wheatberries. I picked the berries out like most kids pull off crusts. I always packed carrots or apples, and swished with water to get the food out of my teeth after eating. This dental hygiene routine was difficult since four spigot water choices at the playground, included terrible choices for dental health.
The power of kid imagination designated the following flavor choices: coffee, tea, soda pop, or pee. The trouble was the selection could be listed either from left to right, or right to left. So the middle two fountains received all the use. We were “safe” with either soda pop or tea. Our teeth would not have been.
When my little brother, Leif turned two years old, he learned how to turn the doorknob to downstairs. He proceeded to fall to the bottom of the wooden staircase arriving at the downstairs door to mom’s bedroom in a heap. He screamed and his screams echoed up the stairwell, out the half door. We both came running. Mom and I crouched down beside him. He looked a mess and howled even worse. Snot coming out of his nose and blood all over his face. Mom ran him up to the kitchen sink, and inspected his face. She turned to me, “He lost his tooth. Go get his tooth.”
I ran downstairs hearing my brother’s cries and searched the floor for a baby tooth that had fallen out. I couldn’t find anything except a long white thing. That couldn’t be a tooth could it? I brought it upstairs,”I couldn’t find his tooth, but I found this.”
“That’s it!” she said, grabbed it and shoved it into my brother’s open mouth before he could blink.
Apparently a tooth can reattach if found quickly, unwashed and reinserted. It turns out, the long tapering thing, that was the root. The baby tooth reattached, yet remained a dull grey until it fell out naturally. At least he could bite his food and chew.
“He has gum disease and needs to floss,” mom once said of a guy who wanted to date me. I notice teeth now too, coffee and tea stains, cavities from too much soda pop. My brother became an orthodontist and he sees overbites and underbites, crossbites and veneers.
I got used to the crunch of wheatberries in bread. I still try to pour off the oil, but my spouse usually gets to the jar of peanut butter first, and stirs it in. I spread jam thin and am grateful to have healthy teeth. For eating. See? I brought it back to food.