She shone in glitter, by Kim at Peace, Love and Patchouli, talks about smiling and being self-conscious in front of the camera. These days, with the proliferation of selfies, it seems there are fewer and fewer self-conscious people out there. I’m not big on selfies, although you might guess otherwise if you were to see all the videos I posted online in my heyday vlogging period.
I’m not afraid to smile for the camera, except for maybe at this particular moment (more on that later), but it wasn’t always like that.
At nine-years-old, I tripped and fell while in a department store. Both front teeth broke, forming a gap in the shape of an inverted “V.” My dentist said I couldn’t have crowns (or caps, as he called them), until I was seventeen, since the process might involve the nerves in the teeth. Fortunately, he decided to try it when I turned fourteen. There are very few photos of me with an open smile during that five year period – mostly tight-lipped grins.
My dentist installed each cap by grinding the outer edges of the broken tooth to form a stub to act as a base. This was around 1967, and, due to cost, plastic was used for the caps. Those plastic caps held up pretty well. (photo on the left is pre-caps)
Fast-forward to the early 1980s. I rode to the corner deli on my bicycle, with my son on the back in a child seat, for ice cream sandwiches. We sat outside enjoying our ice cream – his was a sandwich, and mine was a Nutty Buddy. That’s a sugar cone with crushed peanuts and chocolate on top. Mine was frozen solid, and when I bit into the top I raised the base of the cone to help break off a bite.
Wrong move. My tooth broke, instead. The stub of the tooth, inside the cap, broke right off, and that pressure also made a crack in the plastic. Somewhere, there’s a photo of the two of us side-by-side, with big toothless grins!
I had both caps replaced with porcelain crowns. Each is a steel cup with a porcelain layer on the outer surface. The crowns were filled with adhesive and placed onto steel posts that were drilled into my teeth. Unfortunately, a few years later, a “junior” dentist in the practice cracked one of the crowns while reattaching it after it had loosened. The replacement crown did not cost me anything, but the slight difference in color/shade is noticeable to me. I got over that soon enough, and, as I said, I’m not afraid to smile for the camera.
Fast forward, again, to 2016. Yesterday. A caraway seed from the top of a beef on weck came between the top edge of my bottom tooth and the back of my crown (the “newer” one) – it was that or a piece of kosher salt. The added leverage broke the crown off at the base, shearing the post. I’m now in a different state, and I’m seeing my dentist tomorrow, to see if a new post can be drilled/inserted into my tooth/jaw. It may be a while before I smile for the camera again.
I’ve had a couple of squamous cell carcinoma removed from my shoulder/chest, so I see a dermatologist every year for a skin check. My dermatologist back in Buffalo said that small patches of dry skin on my temples and brows was similar to eczema, and the best I could do was to put a cream/salve on it to relieve the itching. When I moved to Missouri I started seeing a dermatologist here (at a cancer center). She immediately told me that I had sun damage that had the potential to become cancerous. It could come and go, not necessarily related to my current sun exposure. She gave me medication to spread over all of my face, saying that it would expose damage I wasn’t even aware of. And, it did. It took about a week before the damage gradually appeared, and more than a month total before I looked normal, again. (As normal as I’m able to appear.) This is how my face looked for a couple of weeks, before the dead skin sloughed off. Most of the damage was on the left side of my face, as that got the most exposure over my years as a truck driver. It’s been eighteen months, and I haven’t had any re-occurrence of dry skin. I didn’t go out in public very often during those two weeks.
I’ll close out with some nicer photos. I’m told my daughter has my smile. I think it’s as much the light in her eyes, as anything.