Bye-bye Baby Tooth
Written by
Kathryne Arnold
July 2012
Written by
Kathryne Arnold
July 2012

The past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with a loss in my life that many cannot relate to, which makes it even more difficult to get a good handle on. I’m an adult of a “mature” age who just lost one of two baby teeth I’ve managed to keep possession of for several decades. I don’t know of any other adult my age who still has baby teeth, but it’s a strange club to belong to. My permanent incisors were growing out of the roof of my mouth, so my dentist along with my parents decided early to cut them out to prevent possible interference with my other teeth. My parents always teased me (in a loving way), particularly my father, that what kept me young (and added to my uniqueness) was having incisors, or “eye teeth”, that were baby teeth. 

The older I got, the more fascinating this fact was to my parents, family and friends, so I’d get lots of questions and interest pertaining to my baby teeth phenomenon. So in a way I grew up feeling I had something kind of special, something that made me different from my siblings in a cool way. The thought that my baby teeth were the same that noshed on Gerber’s baby food to me is miraculous. That they were able to hold on against all odds, after chomping down on countless ears of corn, apples and hard candy and God knows whatever else through all these years, well, that’s incredible.

It isn’t just the fact that I lost a tooth, which is a bummer in itself, but it represents a greater loss. It’s difficult to explain this uncomfortable sort of grief, because it doesn’t fit into any particular loss category. Losing my baby tooth was one of the last vestiges that connected me emotionally to my parents…an almost palpable attachment… to fond memories of when I was younger, and to more recent years. No matter my age, it’s become a very concrete realization that I’m all grown up without a parental anchor. I guess coming up on the first anniversary of my mother’s death figures strongly into my feelings of increased vulnerability. Not to mention the yearning for my father, the fifth year anniversary of his death around the corner as well. 

I was always proud of my ability of retain my baby teeth, am just coming into an understanding of why I’ve always felt so passionately toward something so small, inconsequential really. What I know now more than ever, since losing one, is that I plan on guarding the last one with my life. I’m worried that when it finally does go, it will take along with it my energy, my vivacity, my youthful way (I like to believe) of looking at the world… and with rose colored glasses when needed. It’s what has gotten me through tough times I think…the glass being half full. I can hear to this day my father whispering in my ear, “Katy, stay young as long as you can, it’s no fun getting old.” Yeah, I’m planning on surviving another few decades, me and my baby tooth. Hell, maybe we’ll even ride into the sunset of our lives together. Yeah dad, to hell with getting old!


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