After reading this link, I figured I should start doing this
“You have such a nice smile.” When I receive this compliment I have been and still am taken aback.
I never really paid too much attention to my face. I mean, it was nothing I was overly excited about. I guess I feel pretty on some days. Other days I wish my eyebrows were shaped to my liking, my nose and eyelids weren’t so oily, or that errant pimple would just disappear. I probably have the longest eyelashes in my immediate family. Sometimes when I plump them up with some mascara I get asked if I am wearing false lashes. I have full lips and I’ve been told they are soft. My bottom lip protrudes a little more than I would like and my lips are probably the first things you notice when you look at my profile. I guess the one thing that bothers me about my face are my teeth. When I laugh I immediately feel self-conscious. My parents were never able to afford to correct my teeth like so many other kids I grew up with. We were however able to go to the dentist and the dentist consistently told my mom that my teeth needed to be corrected but she said I’ll be fine, braces are too expensive and I’ll live. I still think it was the Haitian defiance in her that decided against his professional advice. It’s weird though, I feel like if that was the one thing that was corrected about me, I would feel SO much more confident. But I know that wouldn’t be the case. None of us are built perfectly; there is always something that we are not satisfied with. For instance, if I was finally able to correct my teeth would I feel better? Probably not, I would find something else to worry over.
My teeth have always been something that would make me extremely anxious. All of my friends around me had perfectly straight teeth, bright gleaming smiles that twinkled like a beautiful set of keyboards. Their heads would fall back effortlessly when they found something genuinely funny and when I laugh, I will find myself ducking and covering my teeth with my hands. I remember doing this once, and my friend asked, “Why are you covering your mouth?” I replied, “My teeth are ugly.” He simply said, “no they’re not, I like them.”
I have an overbite that probably isn’t as noticeable to the average person but to me I feel like it’s the first thing people notice about me. I sucked my thumb for years and I know that contributed it to it. I also foolishly believed my mom for years that the reason why my lips were so big was because of my thumb sucking days. I shared this in study hall one day with my friends Emily and Mitchell back in 11th grade and I will always remember their reactions. They looked at me with unabashed laughter and told me that my mom lied to me and sucking my thumb would have not changed the shape of my lips. I guess there is some truth to that.
My bottom teeth are permanently out of line because when I did visit a dentist years ago, he convinced my mom that I had to pull out two of my bottom teeth because if I didn’t my entire mouth would like awful. Was he really just saying that or did he want to just make a few bucks? Would I have actually looked like Quasimodo? I shudder sometimes when I think about that.
My wisdom teeth never fully came in—except for one on the top right of my mouth last summer and it was painful. I couldn’t eat on the right side of my mouth, I felt so uncomfortable and I lay in bed wondering when will this pain go away. At that point we didn’t have dental insurance so I complained to my parents about my tooth and we walked into a dentist’s office and he pulled it out and I had to pay for that procedure with my own money. I still think about angry I felt that I had to use my own money but I knew it was my pain, my procedure that needed to be done so my parents didn’t necessarily have to pay for me.
I try to take extra care of my teeth because I want to prevent any bad thing to happen to them. Maybe because I know that I have the potential to have really bad teeth if I don’t. Pretty much all of my aunts and uncles have terrible teeth on my dad’s side. My dad has had false teeth for quite some time, and I want to avoid that fate. He goes to Haiti every time his teeth are bothering him because the procedure is more affordable than it is in the states. Isn’t that sad? He has to go to a third-world country to get his teeth fixed. It’s interesting though, he knows his teeth aren’t spectacular but takes care of them with painstaking care. He always insisted to brush every time I finish a meal, to use mouthwash before I go to bed and to squeeze out the toothpaste the correct way. For as long as I can remember, my dad ALWAYS brushes his teeth after a meal and if you enter the bathroom he just left you can catch a faint whiff of the minty Colgate toothpaste that has been used in my house for as long as I can remember right alongside the mint green Listerine mouthwash he used, and you can find a bright green double mint gum wrapper buried in the garbage.
My teeth are something that I constantly worry about. I worry that this is a hereditary trait and I will be destined to have bad teeth like some members of my family. I worry that I won’t have the diligence to take care of my teeth like my mother who spends far too much time in the bathroom brushing them until her gums start bleeding (which isn’t healthy at all), who flosses with a quiet care and who swishes mouthwash endlessly. I wonder if I do have the opportunity to finally correct my teeth, will I do it? Will I put so much money into that procedure that will make me more aesthetically pleasing or will I continue to live with this flaw that I have learned to embrace?
I think next time someone compliments me and says “you have a beautiful smile,” I will smile wider; laugh with my hand tucked away in my pocket and say a genuine thank you.