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Chew on This . . . Gently

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Chew on This . . . Gently

Remember the good old days of Bazooka bubble gum and corn-on-the-cob? When the tooth fairy liked you?

Today many of our 32 permanent choppers have aged into dazzling fake news called crowns, implants, veneers, and bridges. They have fighting names like wisdom (if you still have any), incisors, and canines. We brush, floss, and whiten our treasured ivories daily.

There are crooked-teeth smiles, jeweled smiles, and rapper teeth that can set you back thousands of dollars. You can get 18-carat gold engraved teeth, diamond studded canines, and zombie fangs. Smile makeovers are in style, from invisible braces to the raging choppers of The Orange Man in The White House. You can even get real-baby-tooth jewelry made from your kids or grandkids (lifted from the tooth fairy).

Afterfifty-ers don’t do very well in the teeth department. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, by age 65 you have an average of 19 sparkling beauties left in your mouth. 93% of us have suffered from cavities, resolved with gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, or tooth-colored resins.

Teeth dreams are almost as common as cavities. They’re usually about missing, falling, breaking, or decaying teeth. Some experts believe that dreams of losing teeth indicate anxiety or fear – “falling apart” emotionally. Freud argued that it was about sexual repression and the need to be nurtured. Others maintain that it’s associated with loss, life changes, and getting old.

Who hasn’t had that dream?

Teeth also take a bite out of history.

The most famous teeth belonged to George Washington. When he was inaugurated in 1789, the new President had only one tooth left in his mouth. State-of-the-art dentures puffed out his cheeks. They were not made from wood. Washington’s infamous choppers were crafted from a variety of stuff like human teeth bought from slaves, ivory from hippos, lead, gold metal wire and springs, and brass screws.

Quite a mouthful.

Today honest George’s dentures are memorialized in the Bain Collection at the Library of Congress. Would you want to wear them?

Washington’s dental solutions didn’t deter later denture wearers like Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, Harrison Ford, and Joe Biden. Maybe even you.

According to Adam Gaffney in The New Republic, “toothlessness spells joblessness.” One study found that white, evenly spaced teeth make people appear more attractive. “Dazzling” smiles are the rage – think politicians and Hollywood celebrities. How many of them have crooked or yellowed teeth?  They wouldn’t dare go empty-mouthed unless playing Toothless, the Trump-like dragon with retractable teeth.

Hip-hoppers love Grillz or jewelry worn over teeth, with everything from dental tiaras to blue stone fangs. There are also troll tusks, werewolf veneers, and Halloween vampire teeth.

Americans spend $1.4 billion dollars each year on whitening schemes and products to mimic a celebrity smile. Permanent vampire fangs can cost more than $5000 while fake ones a mere $10. The average dental implant is $4250 per tooth and a full set of upper and lower implants can set you back $34,000. Dentures run about $8000.

Where is the tooth fairy when we need her?

In the good old days we found a quarter under the pillow for our precious baby chopper. Today’s tooth fairies are in a different pay grade. Delta Dental’s Tooth Fairy Poll found the average 2018 payout is $4.13 per tooth. Big spenders go for a crisp twenty dollar bill. Following Tooth Fairies since 1998, Delta Dental discovered that “the value of a lost tooth is closely related to the U.S. economy . . . the trend in average giving has tracked with the movement of the S&P 500 [Standard & Poor’s market index].”

Chew on that.

Maybe it’s time to ditch financial planning and count teeth?



Dr. Jeri Fink, author, photographer, traveler, and family therapist, challenges the creaky myths of aging. She believes that now is a creative, exciting time to grow and explore new ideas, people, and places. Visit Dr. Jeri at,,   or to enter her world of discovery, fun, and insights. Her fiction project, Broken, is a series of seven thrillers that defy tradition. She is presently working on Book Web Minis – a series of fun, fast and positive mini books (50-70 pages long) where readers partner with the experts. Check it out at

She tells us: “I challenge the art of writing by merging fact, fictional elements, interactivity, and photography into nonfiction mini books. I draw from my training in social work, experience in individual and family therapy, professional research, and passion for exploring positive psychology. My 32 published books, hundreds of articles and blogs, speaking engagements, and active online presence all reflect who I am today.”

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