As much as he hates to admit it, David has bad teeth. He knows he isn't alone, but it's not one of those topics people like to talk about.
My Bad Teeth
As much as I hate to admit it, I have bad teeth. My family, friends, and co-workers all know it. Besides my mother (who passed away some years ago), no one else will talk to me about it. But I can see the look on their faces; they all notice it. Or at least I think they do. That's how someone with bad teeth feels all the time—that all eyes are on them.
There are many people out there who have bad teeth. This article is for those who are tired of being shunned by society and who hope to find some help instead. Below is a list of ten things people with bad teeth want you to know.
1. We Are Ashamed of Our Bad Teeth
This one may not seem obvious, but we are ashamed of our bad teeth. We want to cover them up, we don't want to show them to others, and we don't like looking at ourselves in the mirror. We are completely ashamed by what our teeth have become.
We know our teeth look like this. It's clear what people think when they see our teeth, and we are ashamed of that as well. People with bad teeth didn't choose for them to be that way. We had the choice to keep them in good shape or get them fixed, which makes it even more shameful.
2. We Know All You Can See Is Our Bad Teeth
It's pretty clear when we first meet someone new or a person we haven't seen in a long time, the focus will be entirely on our bad teeth. It can't be helped. If we don't smile, it looks like we aren't approachable. But once we smile, all of the focus goes to how bad our teeth are.
For the sake of this article, I hope those reading it can look past that and get to know the person behind the bad teeth. Just because someone has bad teeth doesn't mean that the person is bad themselves. It doesn't mean they do drugs, have no money, etc. Don't stare—it's rude and will only make the person feel more ashamed.
3. We Are Uncomfortable When People Talk About It
A couple of weeks before I wrote this article I was in a training session for work. The lecturer started to talk about teeth, stating that certain bad people can have bad teeth. Now, this was a learning experience and wasn't meant to imply that all people with bad teeth are "bad," but I felt uncomfortable. I felt as if all eyes were on me—and specifically, my teeth.
Anytime someone brings up going to the dentist, their teeth bothering them, etc., I feel very uncomfortable and quickly try to change the topic or leave the situation completely.
When people bring up our teeth directly, it gets even more uncomfortable. I had a friend do that after visiting me, and we haven't been the same since. It's hard to talk to that person now because that's all I think about.
4. We Are in Constant Pain
Obviously, we are in pain a good bit of the time. The funny thing about teeth is that once they break, fall out, etc., then pain typically goes away for the most part. But that process takes years. During that time we are in near constant pain. Of all of the physical pain I have experienced in my life, tooth pain has been the worst.
We take pills to kill the pain, we use Orajel to numb the area, etc., but it only takes the edge off. I have had many sleepless nights, days I missed work, and ruined events because of the pain. The pain has brought me to tears with how bad it's been.
5. We Have Many Reasons Why We Have Bad Teeth
There are a variety of reasons why my teeth are the way they are.
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First, I had two accidents as a child that broke my front teeth. For one of the accidents, I broke a front tooth and it ended up lodging into my bottom lip. I had to be pinned down so they could surgically remove the tooth from my lip, give me stitches, then fix the tooth. I remember the whole thing as if it were yesterday.
Then, I had to get braces, which was a few years of pure hell. Plus, most dentists treated me badly. They yelled at me due to how bad my teeth were or would treat me like a piece of meat to be fixed.
Some people weren't told to brush their teeth, or they just didn't care, so that could be why their teeth are bad. There are many reasons why people's teeth went bad, for some very simple or innocent reasons.
6. We Are Offended by the Jokes
There are running jokes that people in England don't visit the dentist or even have dentists in their country. The Austin Powers movies show the main character as having bad teeth because he is English. There are also jokes that those with bad teeth are on crack, are poor, or are uneducated. Those aren't jokes as much as they are stereotypes.
Those with bad teeth find these jokes and statements offensive. Most people with bad teeth don't consider themselves to be bad people or fall within one of those stereotypes. I have heard those jokes made and found myself offended by them. My dental problems may be my own fault, but it doesn't mean you can make fun of me for it.
7. We Are Scared of the Dentist
Overall, those who have bad teeth are scared to go see the dentist. We are scared that the dentist will berate us, of how much it will cost, and all of the work that needs to be done. One of the biggest fears is getting shots in our mouth, hearing that horrible drill, and smelling the smoke of our teeth being drilled into.
My biggest fear is how I will be treated and the shots. Dentists have berated me constantly. So even if I went in to get my teeth fixed, I feel like I would be scolded. The shots are horrible as well. It seems it takes more anesthetic than usual to get me numbed up, so I have to be given multiple shots in order for it to work. The shots feel worse than the dental work itself.
8. We Take Care of Our Teeth, or We Completely Let Them Go
Even though I was bad about it as a kid, as an adult I tried to keep good care of my teeth. I would brush daily and use mouthwash twice a day. Yet, nothing seemed to ever work. I still brush my teeth and I still use mouthwash. In fact, I do so even more now. It feels like it has helped a little, but obviously, it's not enough to fix the problem.
People with bad teeth just don't let them go by not brushing, flossing, etc. It just happens, despite their attempts to keep their teeth clean.
There are some cases where people don't brush or clean their teeth at all. There are extremes on both sides and different reasons why it could happen.
9. We Don't Know What to Do
Once our teeth get so bad, we don't know what to do about it. We could go to the dentist, but we are afraid to. We could give up and let it get worse, but we don't want that to happen. There are no support groups and very little help for people out there who have bad teeth.
With the internet, we can rely on others who have the same issue, but it's not something that people readily admit. Plus with how cruel people on the internet can be, it's not something you want to openly admit. So we are truly at a loss as to what to do regarding our bad teeth.
10. We Want to Get Our Bad Teeth Fixed
In the end, people with bad teeth want to go to the dentist to get them fixed. All of the reasons above could be holding them back, or there could be other reasons beyond that.
I desperately want to get my teeth fixed. Every year I make a promise to go to the dentist, but I never do it. When I am in pain I promise I will go to the dentist, but I never do. I push through it and am relieved when the pain goes away. For years I have wanted to go to the dentist, and I have no idea how I am going to make that happen, or if it even will happen.
I was never afraid of anything in the world except the dentist.
— Taylor Caldwell
This was a hard article for me to write. I admitted all of the fear and anxiety I have in regard to my bad teeth. Maybe it's a way to reach out for help, or a way to discuss the problem.
I just hope that this article shows people out there that people with bad teeth aren't bad people, just people that have a serious medical issue that they don't know how to get addressed.
If you know someone who has bad teeth, bring the topic up gently and support them. Be with them every step of the way. While it may seem easy for you, it may not be easy for them. I've had friends try to talk to me about it, but it's so embarrassing I can't face it. That's how hard it is for some people, so don't give up trying.
If you have experience in this or can offer help to those like me, please leave a comment below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: How can I best support my sister whose teeth are now so bad they are rotting and falling out?
Answer: First off you want to be sensitive to how you approach her. Don't use terms such as "bad teeth"; "rotting"; etc. State you are concerned about her oral health and ask how you can help. She may brush you off, be angry, and put up a wall. But keep gently asking about it from time to time. Show you want to help, offer to talk about it, and ask what she wants done. Involve her in the decision making process.
Question: I have a friend with bad teeth, how did this happen and what can I do? How do I bring it up?
Answer: It could have happened for any number of reasons. You can bring it up, but expect your friend to be very defensive and ashamed to talk about it. You may need to be gentle, and say you want to help. It may take multiple times. Just be gentle about it and if your friend walks away, give him time, then approach it again when you feel it's good to do so again.
Question: I have bad teeth and I really feel bad because of it. I can never smile. I'm suffering from bad depression because of it. What can I do?
Answer: That's a hard question to answer. I would simply say go to the dentist, but as someone with bad teeth myself, I know how hard it can be. My family knows it's an issue and they don't confront me on it. Same with co-workers. If you really want the issue resolved, then go to family and say you need help and support. I hope you get the confidence to do so.
© 2017 David Livermore
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on November 19, 2018:
Funny, I'm an avid reader of Cracked and didn't see that article. I'll have to look it up.
Jess E Spangler on November 18, 2018:
As for jokes about bad teeth a few weeks ago Cracked.com ran an article about things that you didn't know were contagious. One of those are cavities and they quoted a case history about a 40 year old woman who never had cavities in her life going to her dentist and finding out she had a few cavities. The source of her cavities according to the article was a man she was seeing who hadn't seen a dentist in 18 years. Then whoever wrote this article made the quip about the woman's boyfriend that "he must of had a great personality." As for myself having bad teeth and very anxious to have them fixed I found the comment to have been rude, offensive, insensitive and not the least bit damn funny. Apparently the Cracked.com author f this article believes that people with bad teeth are unclean social pariahs that should be shunned and we will willfully spread our cavities to other people and not give a damn.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 06, 2017:
Yes, it can be a sensitive subject to tell someone about their teeth. I don't mind going to the dentist. I do brush my teeth every day though.
Denefits on April 21, 2017:
Thanks to explain the importance of oral check up and cleaning..
Suzie from Carson City on April 18, 2017:
I'm sure it took some courage to write about this. I commend you. Poor oral hygiene is not as rampant an issue today as it may have been years ago. Dentistry has advanced in leaps and bounds. It is now nearly painless to undergo just about any procedure. There is no valid reason to fear a visit to the dentist.
If you have no dental insurance, the cost can be pricey, but nearly every dentist will offer a payment schedule. For regular check-ups, any Dental school/University has "free" clinics you can take advantage of. Especially "cleanings" at a school for Dental Hygienists, will offer free cleanings. Just look into this in your area.
Good luck. Paula
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 18, 2017:
Some people just seem to have softer teeth. I have two daughters, both in their 30s. One of them had many cavities as a child, the other one has yet to have a cavity. Luckily, the one with the more cavity prone teeth can afford to have her teeth fixed, so both of them have pretty teeth.
Certainly cost is a big part of why people let their teeth go.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on April 18, 2017:
Thank you for the story. I do feel like it has hindered my professional life a bit, but I know it has socially.
H Lax on April 18, 2017:
I have bad teeth also. You can't tell it by that photo but those were crowns in the front. I finally had all my top teeth removed because I kept getting infections that blew the right side of my face up to my eyeball. When my teeth went bad, I think that was the start of me becoming somewhat reclusive. It also hinders the job search when you think who's gonna hire me when they see this smile. Bad teeth is also genetic in my family. My biggest problem is all the soda I drink. This was a good, informative article that I think many people will relate to.
Terrie Lynn from Canada on April 18, 2017:
What a great article. Our family is in a Canadian medical journal because of our teeth. People used to act like it was our fault. But it is genetic.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on April 18, 2017:
Thank you. I've thought of therapy but the fear of even talking about it probably stops me. I'll consider your words though.
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 17, 2017:
You were brave to write this article and share your perspective. My heart goes out to you. Although I don't have bad teeth thanks to braces and a strict dad who emphasized prevention, not everyone had the benefits I did. If you have fear that is interfering with your life as this is (going to the dentist, injections in the mouth) perhaps consider seeing both a therapist for the phobia and look into sedation dentistry. They can work in tandem for your benefit. It's a health issue; teeth shouldn't hurt like this. When you are able to get your situation treated it will change your world. Best wishes. You have enlightened people with your story.
lindaspeaks on April 17, 2017:
Some people do not worry about getting their teeth fix until they get a toothache. Plus they do not know that the germs and bacteria from a decayed can travel in the bloodstream which leads to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and even death.