Teeth & Toes

I leaned back in the dental chair as the hygienist moved a film-holding contraption to 18 places inside my mouth, one after the other.

After she positioned the film right she wanted it, she said, “Now, bite down slowly”—18 times.

Then, she pushed a button and a new picture of my teeth appeared on the screen in front of me. That means 18 separate button pushes revealed a photo album of 18 views of my full set of 32 teeth.

Yes, I still have my wisdom teeth. Go ahead, say it. I’ve heard it before: “Your mouth is big enough for them.” Ha. Ha. Ha, ha, ha.

In all honesty, I remain surprised that it is possible to take 18 different photographs of the inside anyone’s mouth. Throughout my life of dental visits, this is the first time I had a choice seat that provided an up-close, personal look at X-rays of my teeth.

Each new photo brought “feet” to mind. Teeth look like toes.

I can read your mind. I can. You are thinking, “What? Yuck! Gross! Teeth and toes—no way!”


A full tooth—root and all—resembles the narrow phalanges of a toe that widen at the toenail. Teeth with fillings look like toes painted with nail polish. Mine was a haphazard manicure—polish on some teeth and not others.

I arrived home from my appointment and shared my observations with my husband. Gary raised one eyebrow but agreed that a resemblance in the appearance of teeth and toes is possible.

I admit, though, that my husband’s agreement on this subject may have been a form of surrender. Gary is accustomed to the crazy ways my mind rocks and rolls. The nod of his head may have meant what he didn’t say: “No way am I debating this one.”

But we did carry on a discussion on the subject of teeth. My toes are much older than my teeth, and I told Gary as much.

“Experts say that children usually have all of their adult teeth by age 14,” I said. “That means my teeth…” I smiled and pointed to my pearly whites, “were babes—only three-years-old when we met.”

It also means that my teeth are fourteen years younger than the rest of my whole self. I’m still trying to sort out how I can use that information to convert my body’s age to that of my teeth.

But I digress.

I’ve only seen one tooth with root intact. It was a baby tooth that belonged to my then 18-month-old daughter Jordan. Running from her Nuna in a game of “catch me if you can,” Jordan fell face-forward into a wide oak windowsill below a bay window.

I scooped up my crying daughter, rushed her to the bathroom sink, and cleaned the blood from her mouth. Gentle pats with a washcloth revealed a hole where one of Jordan’s two front teeth had been.

We found the tooth in the windowsill, sticking straight up, root and all, like flag pole planted in wood. A full-fledged baby tooth is larger than you think.

Oh, how I wish I had saved that tooth. I could have placed it on the floor alongside my toes for comparison. But, as often happens, the tooth fairy collected it and put it away for safekeeping—far, far away, as in out of sight forever.

It matters not. Further proof of my “teeth look like toes” theory came by way of the hygienist.

“Teeth look like toes,” I said to her when I could get a word in between mouthfuls of film.

She laughed and said, “People tell me that all the time.”

Commentary Everyday Life

VievesVine View All →

writer, blogger, columnist

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