I hate one tooth in my mouth. The snaggly one that looks whiter than the others when I smile.

I may or may not be the only person who can tell that one tooth looks whiter because it's CLOSER to you than the others.
Now can you see it?
There she is... being all crazy and annoying. I'm actually talking about the tooth.

I hate it not because it’s imperfect. I hate the tooth because it’s the symbol of my ability to take stubborn to the level of stupid.

When I was in fifth grade, I went to the orthodontist and had four braces put on my front teeth because of a ten percent overbite. Over the next three years, I would get a brace for every tooth (wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out even though the only ones that were crooked were the six bottom teeth. I’m pretty sure that the SNUGGLY SIX are the only thing about me that likes to snuggle.)

I also got some sweet headgear. And a lip bumper that tried to keep my bottom lip from the SUNGGLY SIX to give them more room. Or to give me a huge complex about my increased chances for drooling. Probably both.

I'm pretty sure this look is in again. Which makes me sad.

But the rubber bands and retainers and head gear fell to the wayside a few months before I turned fourteen. I cut off my permed hair, grew a body (kinda), and got off my braces. All of them.

Well, all of them except for one piece of metal. A permanent small band on the back of my six bottom teeth to keep them straight.

I had a beautiful smile, and no one was the wiser. Except me. Me and my tongue that flicked and pushed and hated that thin metal bar.

When I was nineteen and at my yearly orthodontist appointment, I asked for it to be taken off. I based it on all my knowledge of dentistry. Which would be none.

Orthodontist who could thank me for his pool: Your mouth can continue to shift until your are twenty-four.
Me: You want to leave this bar in my mouth another four years?
Richie-Rich, DDS: Yes.
Me: No.
The Donald Trump of Teeth: Yes.
Me: No. I’ve had metal in my mouth for nine years. I’m not willing to do it for another five. I want to feel the back of my bottom teeth!

Why? Why did I want to feel the back of my bottom teeth. Who in God’s great green Earth feels the need to do that?

And for the first few years, it was GREAT. The back of my bottom teeth is fabulous. It’s still fabulous! I’m so attracted to it that I can’t stop pushing my wonky tooth! The tooth that decide to pull ahead in the race to my lip about five years after I insisted on getting rid of the stupid metal bar.

So instead of having perfectly straight teeth after nine years of braces and retainers and sending my orthodontist on fabulous vacations, I have a tooth trying to leave my mouth, a tongue backing it up and an inner debate as to whether I want braces again.

Oh, and of course, a reminder every single day of my ability to take stubborn to the level of stupid. Awesome.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

32 thoughts to “Snaggletooth”

  1. I still have my metal bar on the back of my bottom teeth. It’s been like 11 years since my braces have been off, and I don’t notice it at all. It sucks that you have to look back and want to kick your own ass for it! 🙂

  2. I still have my bar, too. Actually, I didn’t think I could get it taken off even if I wanted to. Which I truthfully never considered anyway. Now the stupid retainer that I was supposed to wear and probably still wear? Yeah, that thing just sucks.

  3. Wow I am just cracking up right now. Nice photos to look at before bed. Hoping to not have dreams about your one tooth moving ahead in the race, no offense. I had retainers and braces the whole nine yards from 2nd grade til 9th or 10th grade. I have never heard of the metal bar until now. I did wear that clear retainer for awhile and then at bed. And probably about college I did away with it all together. I think my teeth have shifted a little but I am still happy. There is no way I would put braces back on. I probably put all of my dentists kids though college.

  4. when I was a teenager, I needed braces. My teeth were crooked and I had an overbite. The overbite had been exasperated by years of playing the clarinet.

    My parents took me to see about braces, and the orthodontist immediately declared that I would have to quite the clarinet or it would just work against the braces.

    Because of my future clarinet career, I was unwilling to give it up.

    You know, that clarinet career that I have right now, the one where I don’t even own a clarinet and I’m not even sure that I could play one if it magically landed in front of me right now with a piece of sheet music.

    Because of that wonderful career….I have crooked teeth and an overbite.

  5. I started with retainers in the second grade and didn’t get my braces off till high school. To say that my teeth were jacked up is being kind. Of course I didn’t wear the post braces retainer and my overbite is back.

    Now we’re getting ready to go through the process with my 10 year old. Such fun.

  6. I have that tooth too! Except I never had braces because my family couldn’t afford them. Now my tooth is a reminder that as an adult I’m too cheap to fix my own appearance when we could have…say, a tv

  7. 1. I totally couldn’t see it. I’m not sure if that says something about your tooth or me.
    2. I LOVE the new design. And by design, I mean layout. But that’s only because I’m attracted to new, shiny things.
    3. We won’t discuss the years and years I had braces and the fact that now all of my teeth are crooked. Because it saddens me.

  8. Aack! I totally know what you mean. I had braces and a retainer and an appliance for a serious overbite (though thankfully not actual headgear). And all I had to do was keep wearing the retainer at bedtime. How hard is that? Seriously? But I graduated from high school and thought, “I’m an adult, I don’t need that silly retainer!” Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now I have one that is turned a bit sideways.

    FYI, I totally can’t tell your tooth sticks out except in the last pic.

  9. I never had braces and my teeth SO needed it. Your snaggletooth would be unidentifiable in the tangled jungle that is my dentition.

    My parents were flakes (at the time) and probably couldn’t have afforded it anyway.

    But now, it really annoys me when I go to a new dentist and someone says, “Have you ever thought about orthodontia?” Cause yeah, you can get to 43 with a warring inner city for a mouth and have it never cross your mind.

    I now have a horrified expression and tearful eyes that I can pull up on command and cry, “Why?? Do you think I need it???”


  10. Ugh… My two middle bottom teeth slightly angle in towards each other… I hate it even though my husband says he can’t even tell… I can! And I constantly feel at them with my tongue…

  11. I, too, have two teeth that went crooked after having braces. My problem is that I have a SEVERE gag reflex. I can’t even brush my teeth without gagging. My retainer also upset this gag reflex which meant I could hardly wear it during the day. I had the best of intentions and would try to wear it at night but I would wake up the next morning and suddenly realize it wasn’t in my mouth. Sometimes I’d find it in the bed with me, or tangled in my hair. Other times I’d find it across the room, under the bed, or other furniture from where I’d taken it out and thrown it as far away from me as possible in my sleep. I finally gave up and because of it I have one crooked tooth on the bottom and one on top.

  12. While reading this I noticed that my tongue rests on the back of my bottom teeth. Never noticed this before. Great, how long before I unnotice it again! Lol! I will probably be rubbing them for the rest of the day!

  13. Ugh, it sucks when we’re stubborn and realize there really was no reason to have been stubborn!

    But like others have said, I TOTALLY couldn’t see the tooth. In the first two photos your teeth all look perfect. And I don’t think you normally talk to people with your head/face/mouth in the position of photo #3, so you’re good! 🙂

  14. woman, I hear ya. I had braces for 7 and a half years. plus retainer time. my bottom teeth have shifted a bit, but I don’t give a rat’s ass (and who asks for a rat’s ass anyway?) because no way are braces coming anywhere near this mouth every again.

  15. I am right there with you! Except I have a gap that you could sail a ship through. I stubbornly didn’t wear my retainer my teeth went right back to their previous spaced out positions. I have tried a few times to wear my retainer in hopes of willing the teeth back together but it hasn’t worked out so well and hurt like heck.

    I may go back to the orthodontist and beg for a redo.

  16. My two bottom middle teeth stick out farther than the teeth on either side of them. All because I went and crushed my stupid retainer when I sneezed and couldn’t afford a new one. I hate it, but I also hate the dentist (including orthodontists) so much that I am unwilling to go back…:(

  17. Those are some pretty darn straight and same-colored teeth there. I hear and get what you are saying about the tongue and wanting the metal off, but it is time to let it all go, your teeth are PERFECT. (I hope you NEVER have to look at MY teeth for ANY reason….)

  18. “I have a tooth trying to leave my mouth, a tongue backing it up and an inner debate as to whether I want braces again.” LOL… that’s one of the best lines I’ve read in a week.

  19. my teeth are so low-maintenance that i didn’t even go to the dentist for ten years. at the end of that happy decade, the only consequence of so much neglect was one snaggly tooth, exactly the same one as yours, only WILDLY more snaggly. i always ground my teeth in my sleep, but apparently that last decade of grinding made the one weird tooth so whacked that it has become my personal obsession. it’s so off kilter that if i open my mouth a certain way–like, the way you hang your mouth ajar while you are applying eyeliner–it actually looks like that tooth is MISSING. it’s also sharp as HELL. i’ve thought a lot about getting braces for it. but that would mean going back to the dentist, and i wasn’t planning on another visit for at least 8 years.

  20. There should be a BA (Braces Anonymous) group formed PRONTO. I have never met anyone who had braces longer than I did–six years. Now I see not only you, but also Andy Girl need to be lifetime members as well.

    I had a retainer for about a month after they came off. I accidentally tossed it out at Micky D’s, and I was NOT sifting through half-eaten Big Macs to fish that thing out. The smooth teeth STILL feel fab. Braces sucked. Hard.

  21. i feel compelled to add that joseph, the only one of my children who resembles me even a little, has the very same crooked pattern to his lower front teeth that i have, although of course he’s not snaggly yet because he’s only 2.5. so i look forward to revisiting this dilemma ten years from now when it’s time to decide on HIS braces.

  22. Very entertaining – and i guessed the wrong tooth! i stopped looking after i found a tooth whiter than the rest, anyway… if it causes you functional problems, fix it, if yer rich do what ever you want.

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