I was deprived of turkey on Thanksgiving, because for the first time since infancy, I don’t have any teeth. Well, strictly speaking, I still have twelve in front—six on top and six on the bottom, but they don’t meet in anything resembling a normal bite. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been gumming my food, unable to ingest anything even remotely solid, and I’m feeling increasingly sorry for myself.
By Christmas, I should have a radiant new smile, thanks to a full set of dentures. And in the new year, I’ll feel much more confident when I visit galleries with a portfolio of my giclee prints. By April, when my 1969 Woodstock paintings are hanging on exhibit at the Bethel Woods Museum, I’ll be ready to rock my aging hippie image with pride. But I’ll need some new hair to complement my new smile. I grew mine out during the pandemic, and it’s now down to my shoulders for the first time in decades. My husband likes it better, but it’s pathetically skimpy, so in January I’ll spring for a wig from one of the many storefronts in downtown Albany.
I’ve hated my teeth for decades, and I’ve resisted when anyone asked me to smile for the camera. I had orthodontia as a teenager, but as years went by, my teeth migrated to an unsightly new low. I’d broken one front tooth in middle school, when I slipped on a patch of ice while jumping rope, and the resulting cap jutted out more and more, retaining its gleaming whiteness as my natural teeth darkened around it. Further back, my teeth no longer met properly, and when eating in company, I was invariably half-way through the main course when others were ready for dessert.
I always joked that I wanted to get dentures. Over the past several years, I steered clear of dentists, and when the pandemic hit, my oral hygiene deteriorated even more. But by this past summer, I knew I needed to bite the bullet if I were ever to venture maskless into society again. Some trusted friends recommended a new dentist. After a thorough exam and a full set of X Rays, he told me that my teeth were beyond saving and recommended full dentures, top and bottom.
I embraced his suggestion immediately. Past dentists had proposed less dramatic measures—replacing the unsightly cap, more regular visits to the periodontist, more fillings, maybe implants. But Dr. Lewis told me these stopgap solutions would work only temporarily, and that I’d eventually lose the teeth anyway. The cost of dentures was daunting, but ultimately they’d save me a bundle as well as untold time and aggravation.
So here I am, the day after Thanksgiving, and I barely missed the turkey. Stuffing is off limits, but I’ve wolfed down an entire pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce goes down easy—the canned, gelatinous kind, with no whole berries. Other dietary staples I’ve relied on include Atkins shakes, spreadable pub cheeses, guacamole, smooth soups, juices, peanut butter and especially cheesecake. I’ve lost a couple of pounds, and my doctor is pleased. Little does he know how many carbs and how much sugar I’ve been scarfing down, along with a fair amount of vodka and wine.
Time to sign off—writing about food is making me hungry. Time for some key lime cheesecake.
When it comes to food, do you have any guilty pleasures you care to confess? And what about teeth? Are you happy with yours? Any traumatic stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.