1000 a Day – Day 7

I’m actually far more behind than I had originally anticipated, but the last day of our trip to Hong Kong plus the day of travelling meant that I haven’t had much time to actually sit down and take care of anything serious until now. This will be the first post I get to write online, but it’ll be the first in a series of three that I will post today as well so that I can be fully caught up and continue with my project appropriately tomorrow, hopefully without any more interruptions.

I’ve always had a fascination with and hatred towards my teeth, probably stemming from my wonder over why all my classmates had black ones. I’ve never quite understood why we’d be equipped with something in our bodies that requires such obtrusive maintenance. I mean, it’s a pain in the ass to floss, but apparently I have to if I want healthy teeth. Who decided that? And there’s even people nowadays who floss their dog’s teeth; seems kind of overboard to me to require something that an animal is not capable of providing for itself. I understand there are scientific theories out there about how our diet has changed too much, same for the dog by the way, so it requires a different cleaning regimen. But still, and that’s not really the point. Hatred aside, I’m still fascinated by them, ever since my first set started coming loose when I was very young.

I remember that I was spending the night at my cousin Michael’s place again, as I did so often when I was young. One of my back tooth had been loose for a while and I was playing with it instead of sleeping. I kept pushing on it with my tongue, a little this way, a little that way, to see how it would bend and how far it would bend. I must have stayed up all night doing this, wiggling that tooth back and forth. It felt very visceral to me, very unlike anything else physical I’d normally experience day to day. I thought that this must be how it felt to go out hunting and actually kill, prepare, and eat something on your own, a sort of “back to nature” kind of physical sensation. And I was getting it through my teeth. I’d push it as far one way as I could, until I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, then let it return on its own. Then I’d push it the other way. I pushed so hard that all of a sudden I heard a tearing sound reverberate through my head, much louder than anything I’d expected, and the tooth was left hanging by a literal thread, a gush of warm blood flowing out of the socket. Now a hanging tooth is also a very annoying thing, and being in bed, supposedly sleeping, I had no good way of removing it or seeing what needed to be done. So I began to turn it in circles, around itself, like one would trying to remove tomatoes from the vine, causing more and more pain with each turn. I’d hold my breath, clench my eyes, then explosively give it just one turn, then stop. I spun it like this until the string of flesh broke, and there was finally relief. Since I’d been holding my breath the entire time up until now, that when I finally took in one, I knew that that’s what it felt to be alive. Outward appearances and politeness aside, I ran to the bathroom to look at the prize I had pulled from my mouth, washed it clean under the sink, and marvelled at how sharp and jagged the root of the tooth looked.

I would continue like this through most of my baby teeth over the course of some time. Some I’d even break off far sooner than they were ready, leaving only the sharp stump of the tooth still in my mouth. These obviously needed to be extracted because for some reason, my tongue just can’t keep away from any new abnormality in my mouth, no matter how sharp and injurious to it they may be. So I’d start in again with my tongue, at night while laying in bed, pushing the stump back and forth, back and forth, a little further each time, until I’d hear that tearing again and feel the warmth flow to the back of my throat.

Since then, I’ve still not yet developed a full appreciation for my teeth or for how to properly maintain them. This has lead to some general suffering on my part, some of the time, due to emergency root canals (only once) and the likes. I’ve also had dental work done on almost every single tooth in my mouth. Nevertheless, though the expense and the time and the suffering have been extensive at times, I still like my sort of pseudo-practical approach to my teeth: I leave them alone and they, hopefully leave me alone.


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