Posted by: scintillatingspeck | January 13, 2014

Missing teeth.

This morning Lily knocked out a large portion of her upper two front teeth as she attempted to play the didgeridoo.

I was in the other room and heard a thunk and then a cry, and rushed forward to see her horrified face and broken teeth, the pieces on her lips and tongue.  What went through my mind?  Her teeth, oh god, those weren’t baby teeth, they’re gone, gone forever– they will never grow back.  I didn’t say this aloud; I said words like Oh honey, come here; we’ll take care of it; it’s going to be okay.  But I was crying all the while.  She wasn’t bleeding or in pain, just crying and shaking about the fact that large chunks of her teeth were missing; it took about half an hour to console her.  It will take a while longer to console me.

I’m dwelling, still, in that space of pieces of my baby’s body are missing.  It could be so much worse, of course, but every loss, especially a permanent loss, carries that kernel of shock and grief, that reminder of how impermanent everything is, our teeth, all of our body parts, our relationships, our ideas, our homes, our lives, our ecosystems.  I think to myself, She put so much growth energy into growing those teeth, and now they’re gone- the teeth that might have accompanied her for a lifetime are gone.  I run my tongue along my own front teeth, marveling that they have lasted as long as they have.  It’s not fair; she’s only six!  But which arbiter of fairness will ever step in and regrow the broken teeth?  Or for that matter, bring back the dead?  Bring back the extinct species?  Put the oil and coal and gas back in the ground?  Put the knowledge of splitting atoms back whence it came?

We were fortunate, as it turns out.  The dentist saw Lily right away and bonded her teeth.  They look okay now.  She’ll need to have them re-bonded as she grows, and will need permanent crowns when she’s an adult and her jaw has stopped growing.  Around age 18, said Dr. Olszewski.  And my mind immediately leapt to: will we even be alive then?  Will there be dental care?

We’re alive now, is what I think.
I never take it for granted.

Lily has a splendid attitude.  After getting over the shock of her broken teeth, she tenderly stroked my cheek and said, “Mama, don’t cry.”  I assured her that I was okay, just a bit shaken up by the whole incident.  Lily said, “Look, my teeth are as good as new.  As good as new!”  And smiled, and laughed.

Her smile illuminates my whole life.

Lily's new front teeth

Lily’s new front teeth



  1. Oh god. That happened to me when I was a kid. Same deal, not baby teeth.

    I had just learned to bicycle and was trying to show off for a boy in the street.

    My reaction was pure guilt and fear. I don’t recall being punished, but it was so obviously such a terrible error of judgment on my part, right?

    On the bright side, after that I got better at falling.

    The world is a dangerous place. I’m glad the outcome here gives you some time to prepare. My teeth became abcessed and I had to have root canals before caps. Real drag.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you, Miep. That guilt/fear reaction, I’m sure I would have responded the same way, as a kid. I wonder how much of that Lily might have felt. I think there was some. I did my utmost to comfort her right away, to not place blame on her, to not freak out and make it about me and my feelings…. I held her on my lap and told her we would do everything we could to make it better.

      • You’re a good Mom.

        I think the experience did teach me to be more careful. Never broke a bone.

        And when you fall, you try to break it with your shoulder, duck your head in, and roll if possible. Do NOT try to break it with your hands, you can break your wrists that way.

  2. omg omg omg. i am so glad that lily is okay! i went through each of the emotions you described, know how i felt when dylan even just slightly chipped a secondary front tooth! oh, honey, i am so glad they were able to bond her teeth. life is sudden! love to lily and mom, and a big hug to hold the both of you. ❤

    • Thank you, Marlowe, for the sympathy and love and hugs. Deeply appreciated.

  3. Aw, Jen and Lily, how scary! And I have never had to go through that specifically, but based on another instance with Kyle I know I would have those same emotions and thoughts, Jen. Many many many hugs to you both. ❤

  4. Oh, Jen! Damnit! I’m so sorry to hear about Lily’s accident, and happy that it is going to be ok. My best female friend lost her top fronts very young as well. She has had some aggravation with it through the years, but it’s not scarred her and she is very successful in all areas of her life.
    Very Best Wishes!

    • Thanks, Ryan…. I’m grateful for all the stories we’re receiving about front teeth lost but good cheer prevailing!

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