Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Radish Tooth, or Don't Get Dental Work in Mexico

I am grateful for modern dentists. I shudder to think what it was like when whiskey and pliers were involved.

My grandpa once drank vodka and yanked his own molar out with a pair of pliers, but he's not the craziest cheap dental story in the family. My aunt (who shall remain nameless) went to Mexico to save a buck on dental care. The dentist sedated her on a dirty couch in his office. When she woke up (thankfully with her kidneys intact, and not in a bordello), he said, "It's lucky you came in! You were about to lose all your teeth on top. We yanked them and replaced them with teeth on posts. Make sure you come back next year so we can do the rest!"

Back in town, her regular dentist was horrified. "What did you do?"

It gets better. For the next few months she had a wiggly tooth, and she fiddled with it. One day it popped out and she had to search the couch. She found it. Relieved, she stuck it back in her mouth...and promptly lost it while walking in the woods.

She came to my parent's house for dinner, and I wouldn't have said a word, except she arrived with a cotton ball in her mouth to hide the gap and kept covering her mouth. I come from a mischievous family with Irish blood. I couldn't resist a few bars of, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth..."

There was blood in the water. My dad suggested to his little sister, "You know, we could make a tooth for you. I could carve it out of wood and paint it in the shop."

"Yeah! That's a great idea! Let's do it," she said.

She was serious, people. Keep in mind, her appointment to fix it was in two days.

We got crazy with it. Dad suggested fabricating a metal tooth. My aunt got happier and more excited. Mom and I were hysterical. Marshmallows covered in clear nail polish were met with enthusiasm, and my aunt thought we were really on to something with glue gun wax and make n bake clay. Finally, worried she was going to poison herself (and dying of laughter) I suggested carving a radish tooth, shaving off the red part.

My mom's eyes lit. "Do it!"

So I did. The great thing about a radish is it's curved like a real tooth and easy to carve. She popped it in, enthused that it only vibrated a little bit when she talked...and then she asked why we were hysterical. The tooth stuck out like a bucktooth rabbit, and eighth inch too long, giving her a hillbilly Jill look, so I suggested she nibble it down to size. The resulting tooth was ragged, but fit perfectly.

She was on a roll. She called Fred Meyer to ask about polymer clay while I made some teeth for the road, cracking jokes about cops and drug sniffing dogs and her little baggie, and how I was going to tip off my cop brother-in-law that she had contraband.

So she gets to Fred Meyer and pops in a fresh tooth. It's late, there are few customers and the lady at the counter remembers her call. She asks with a smile, "What are you making?"

My aunt opens her mouth...and spits the tooth at the woman.

The poor cashier never said a word.

I thought we were done. I couldn't get any crazier...and then the next day, my mom got an email of a picture of make and bake teeth, except these were the "make and dry" type. Picture chalk in your nice, wet mouth. You know what happens next.

My aunt made the teeth and went to watch a motor cross race. All was well until a little boy said, "Lady, you have white stuff all over your lips." The clay had dissolved, taking her fake tooth and her dignity with it.

And this is why we don't have dental work done in Mexico, kids. In the effort to save a dollar, you might find you've bit off more than you can chew.


  1. O my!
    Your poor family can be thankful that you are not using the family name for your writing work!
    Wonderful storey! Makes me think of all the norwegians who try to fix the teeth in ceap plases in east europe and asia!

  2. Shiver. Don't do it! Freaky stuff.

  3. Yeah! I bett! I prefere my regular, well educated dentist.
    Hope you are in a writing mode. I am so looking forward to the next book. Are currently reading true the collection for the 4th of 5th time.
    Take care!