23 April 2010


I need to go get my teeth cleaned, because it's been like a year since the last time. I didn't take good care of my teeth when I was younger, but I am increasingly paranoid about it now. It's made a lot worse now, since I work around kids with absolutely terrible teeth. A lot of Koreans have oral surgery to fix problems around high school or college age, but that has the side effect of making them relatively unconcerned about their teeth in elementary school. Braces are almost an unknown.

Have you ever taken a handful of pencils and put them in a jar? They stick out in all directions, points and erasers spraying around awkwardly and crossing over each other. That's pretty much what the mouths of these kids look like. Incisors stick out crazily, canines cross over other teeth and go on quiet country walks with their paramours, and the molars are subject to continual abuse.

Just yesterday, one of my sixth-graders (twelve years old!) came up to me with a grin on his face. He starts to say something, then gets a surprised look for a moment. He reaches into his mouth (with a grubby, disgusting hand) and pulls out what appears to be basically almost a whole molar. This was not a small piece of a tooth. This looked like everything but the root. He holds it up and says, still surprised, "Tooth."

Yes. Tooth.

It seems he and another kid had been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokémon or Goddamn Absurd Collectibles Game #43, and he'd knocked into something and sheared off a tooth without even realizing it. He's twelve - those aren't baby teeth! He didn't even seem bothered, but just smilingly asked to go see the nurse.

I am going to the dentist immediately.

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