Big mouth costs more than money

By Tammy Keith Published July 20, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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My mouth has cost me a lot in the past 50 years.

In my baby book, my mother wrote about my first trip to the dentist. In her neat, perfect handwriting, she put:

“He couldn’t get her to stop talking!”

I was 3, and so it began.

At a church camp in fifth grade, I got a front tooth almost knocked out by a boy who

dove off someone else’s shoulders. His head went right into my mouth.

My parents came to get me and drove like crazy to get me to the dentist, where I got a root canal and Demerol.

Because I inherited my Uncle Thom’s gap between my front teeth (yes, I see you glancing at my photo), combined with my mother’s overbite, I got braces as soon as possible.

That meant pulling baby teeth, which were holding on for dear life, getting painful spacers before the braces and and wearing lovely headgear to sleep in afterward.

Thankfully, my parents did not make me wear it to school. I’ve heard horror stories.

After I had braces for about 15 years — OK, 2 1/2 — I had a pretty nice smile.

It’s never over, though.

Dentists bleached my “bad” tooth, the one that goofy boy ruined, and they did all sorts of tricks to keep my gap from coming back. They wired my front teeth together like fence posts, but that usually didn’t last.

In my early 20s, I was in a

car wreck when a drunk driver hit my car. Among my list of injuries was a broken tooth, so I got veneers. The dentist said they’d last at least 10 years. That was almost 30 years and a million cups of coffee ago.

I’m contemplating getting new veneers. As my dental hygienist kindly put it: “Our gums recede as we get older.”

Yes, one of the many perks.

A few weeks ago, I felt something crunch in my egg and cheese muffin that my husband made for me.

My first thought was that a chicken ate a rock, which somehow got in the egg. (Your mind does weird things at these moments.)

No, it was one of my molars. Fun.

I smiled self-consciously for a few days before I got my temporary crown (on my tooth, not my head, although I want one of those).

When I put on lipstick afterward and tried to rub my lips together, my top lip went south and my bottom lip went west, never the twain shall meet. I wished I had videoed it for YouTube.

I robbed a liquor store and paid my part for the crown, after insurance. I didn’t want to retire anyway.

My mouth has cost a small fortune, but it’s cost me more than that.

A co-worker in the office let me know recently that I’ve said some things lately that have hurt her feelings.

She is a kindhearted, hardworking, sometimes annoyingly optimistic person who really doesn’t deserve to be the brunt of my big mouth.

This is me eating humble pie.

I’m going to floss regularly and try to keep my mouth shut more often.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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