The photo I wouldn’t share

I believe that we are all created by God, knit beautifully together just as He sees fit. I believe He’s God over genetics and that He has ordained which genes are passed to each child.

I’ve already talked about how genetics gifted me with RP, and now I’m going to explain how genetics gifted me with a specific tooth problem and how tomorrow it will be fixed once and for all.

When I was a probably 8 years old, I lost the baby tooth next to my front one (lateral incisor if you want to be technical about it), and I’ve been missing a tooth since then. The permanent tooth came in, and it was a funky shape. And up in the gum above that tooth was a permanent canine one.

My mom is missing her incisors, so the dentist was not surprised that I had issues with both of mine. One was bonded to make it the right size, and the other one abscessed when I was about 12. I had a root canal, and that was the worst dental surgery to date. It took two days!

In six months, the tooth abscessed again. With no guarantee that another root canal would fix it and that the abscesses would stop, we decided to have it pulled.

Keep in mind that the baby tooth beside it had come out but the permanent one was above the abscessed one. That means I had a two-tooth gap for a while. Mom said I didn’t smile much.

This photo was taken while my flipper was out. I loved the photo so much, though, that I downloaded a free photo editing program and added a tooth before sharing it on Facebook.

Fast-forward to the summer before ninth grade. My parents chose to get me braces. My mom told me later that she didn’t want me to have to be embarrassed of my teeth like she was of her own. Parents can make sweet, sweet sacrifices for their children.

At some point during the time period I was in braces, I was referred to an oral surgeon in Chattanooga to talk about an implant. When we got there, they told us it would be $10,000, and I was crushed. I knew that wouldn’t be happening, but I figured I could live with a partial/flipper and be fine.

Getting my braces off turned out to be a bittersweet experience, though. I had pretty, straight teeth, but the braces had hidden the fact that I was missing a tooth. I had the flipper, but it came out when I ate, so the gap became more obvious post-braces. Everyone knew.

Eight years later, I have come to the point where I am comfortable taking it out around people, but I’ve refused to have a photo taken without my tooth in place. I have been too embarrassed to make a permanent image of something like that.

Tonight, though, I want to share a photo with you. It’s a photo of a toothless me, only one of three in existence since I had my braces removed. At least, it’s one of the only three I can find. I took these three photos once I started the implant process only because I knew the end was in sight. (I was able to find somewhere that could do the implant for way less than $10,000, so I started the process in March 2016.)

Before I drop in the photo, let me say that I understand that beauty goes deeper than an outward appearance. I understand that my character and my spirit will always and forever be more important than any tooth. I want to be a good example to others, and that will never ever have anything to do with teeth. Teeth are not important in the long run. What matters is how I treat people; that’s what they will always remember.

So, without further ado, let’s make my snaggletooth self public.

2017-05-08 08.09.03
Snaggletooth for the last time.

There you have it! While this look will change tomorrow, I’m not going to forget the toothless period of my life. Those days taught me about true beauty, to look past outward appearances of others and to look at their hearts instead, and I’m grateful for that.

I won’t know what to do when I have all my teeth, and that’s a problem I’ve looked forward to having for about 19 years. It’s been a long journey here, but I’m excited for what tomorrow brings!

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