'Cheers' is the dentist's office, where everybody knows
By Sarah Reale
September 26, 2006 | When I was in sixth grade I got
my first root canal. I walked out of the dentist and
my mom picked me up in our new forest green Dodge Durango.
I jumped in the front seat and the fresh scent of a
new car blew across my face. I was still numb; my bottom
lip felt like it had enlarged 100 times. I kept opening
the sun flap mirror on the car to make sure it wasn't
swollen, To my surprise my lip wasn't swollen; it just
felt like it.
My mom dug into her purse and handed me two Advil
and drove me back to school.
When most people get a root canal it is a major event.
Not for me, and not for my family. My mom blames my
suffering on when I was a child I would hide the fluoride
pills when she would give them to me every night. I
always rebut this fact and change the subject to a frequent
"can you believe Utahns didn't want fluoride in their
The truth is, it is genetics. There is no pill or
toothpaste that could have stopped four of my front
teeth from never growing in. The dentist frequently
compares my teeth to chalk, and my file at in his office
is so large it has its own shelf.
Today, when you look at my smile it looks great. It
hasn't always been that way. After I had my braces for
four years I was the only 8th grader that still had
baby teeth. It wasn't by choice, it was just that nothing
had ever grown in and pushed the baby teeth out. The
dentist did some work and made them look presentable,
and lucky for me my friends loved me for who I am, not
Last summer at a cute corner café in downtown San
Francisco with my best friend I bit into a tasty croissant,
felt a crack, looked at her and started bawling. I would
finish the trip with a gap the size of Texas in the
front of my smile.
It was just downhill from there. I would get a retainer
with teeth on it that was extra fun during Halloween
and white trash parties because I could take it out
and scare the children. Eventually I would get all of
my eight top front teeth capped and looking like new.
Then two weeks later I would break a molar.
There is no pain that I can't endure in my mouth,
no shot that is too painful. Even though I get butterflies
every time I walk through the doors of my dentist's
office, it is a place where like Cheers, "everybody
knows my name."
I have acquired grandma-like nicknames, and people
joke that I will have dentures before I am 30. My mom
likes to say, and I have heard it more than once when
I call to complain about my teeth that, "It could be
worse, some people are born blind, or without limbs,
you should be grateful it is only teeth."