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Diana Vilic

Blogger Visual Marketing Student Photographer Coffee Addict

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What I Learned From Being Obsessed With My Teeth

  • 10:52:00 PM
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I am both in a constant state of loving my teeth and hating them. For as long as I can remember, I've hated my teeth. So when I saw the Girlboss article What I Learned From Being Obsessed With My Teeth, I expected to resonate with it. But I didn't. To me, the article might as well have been called "What I Learned From Going To The Dentist" or "What I Learned From Cavities." By no means am I insulting Edan Lepucki for sharing her story. But her story isn't mine.

I'm no stranger to sharing my insecurity. I have blog posts about it here and here. Check my Twitter, Instagram or past blog posts. I'm obsessed with teeth. I have random strangers ask me how I get my teeth so white. 

I learned how to floss by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how the modified bass brushing technique by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to hold an electric toothbrush by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned about every damn fluoride product under the sun by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to push my canine in with my thumb by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to spend $500 a month on dental products by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to apply red lipstick so it looks like a gunshot by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to value my self worth by the bones in my mouth by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to swallow my insecurities and smile by being obsessed with my teeth.
I learned how to be constantly aware of my worth by being obsessed with my teeth.
My teeth are my worth. No matter how I rationalize it, it doesn't make sense. It's still ingrained in me.

"I'm constantly aware of my teeth."

Being obsessed with your teeth isn't going to the dentist and getting a treatment plan. And following through. It's not being afraid of the needles. Or scared you'll need a root canal.

I'm constantly aware of my teeth. I can't stand the feeling of food in my teeth. So I keep floss in my pocket, purse, car, apron at work, bedside, and scattered throughout my bathroom. I avoid hard candy, anything overly sweet, and I don't sweeten anything. I can't stand not brushing my teeth three times a day. The feeling of film on my teeth makes me panic. 

Everytime I smile, I think about how my teeth look to other people. Everytime I laugh, I wonder if I look like a donkey. I put my joy second to my teeth and how others view them.

When I was in High School, I was told if your teeth were white, no one sees how crooked they are. So I whitened my teeth 2-3 times a day. I whitened them until they hurt to touch. I whitened them until every restoration I had over 6 years was damaged. And when I was receiving treatment for the damage I did. I wanted to whiten them. Because since I started, no one called me snaggletooth or compared me to a Twilight vampire.

"However, logic and insecurities don't go hand in hand."

I learned that lipstick is the only armor I need by being obsessed with my teeth. When a girl called me Snaggletooth in college, red lipstick was the only thing to get me through the damn semester. I keep handfuls of lipstick with me at all times. They're stashed in my room, car, and every purse I own. Everytime I pass a reflection, I make sure my teeth look decent in the lipstick.

I never mattered to anyone because my teeth are at sci-fi angles. It's a lie I constantly tell myself. I know how untrue it is. However, logic and insecurities don't go hand in hand.

I learned writing blog posts about your insecurity, doesn't cure you. Same goes for talking to people about them. No matter how much everyone around you wants to fix you. They can't.

By being obsessed with my teeth, I learned I'm resilient. I haven't had a cavity in two god damn years. My gums are healthy to the point where I'm one of the few Americans who has no sign of gum disease. When I was made fun of for my teeth, I used to destroy them. I always figured I deserved to lose them. For two years I haven't destroyed them. To me, that's a bigger deal than winning the lottery. I call my best friends every checkup I get where I get a clean bill of health. And we celebrate it. 

By being obsessed with my teeth, I learned that 40% of Americans lack dental insurance. Many of those are underinsured. I was beyond over insured. 

I learned that I was beyond fortunate. And I took advantage of it. I can't help but think, if I wasn't double insured, how would my life have turned out? I'd be in dentures in my 20's. No doubt about it. But I'm 20 with a textbook healthy mouth. Despite the thousands of dollars invested in my teeth in restorations. My teeth are heathy. I was undeserving and lucky.

Look up denture videos on Youtube. These vloggers aren't Grandparents. They're not even close to the age where they could become Grandparents. Most these vloggers are in their 20's and 30's. Some have pre-existing conditions that resulted in damage to their teeth. Others couldn't see a dentist until it was too late. Some were in car accidents and lost their teeth. There are vloggers who opted to remove all their teeth because treatment was too expensive.

"Teeth aren't cosmetic. They're functional and crucial."

Many of these vloggers post DIY dentistry videos. How to clean your teeth with a screwdriver. How to fill a tooth with random crap bought on Amazon. How to use nail acrylic to fix a denture crack. There's a series of videos on how to make your own dentures with material purchased at a hardware store. 

Since I was 18 and I learned that deserving people can't get treatment. I've never been able to forget about it. The idea that we would treat a form of medicine like a luxury was astonishing to me. As a society, we treat dentists and dental health professionals like they're not real health professionals. Yet they're working on a part of the body that contributes to most of our health. Teeth aren't cosmetic. They're functional and crucial. And it's about time they get treated as such. Not veneered bones that define our self worth. 

By being obsessed with my teeth, I learned that I was beyond fortunate. I had a dental office I enjoyed going to. I had dental insurance. And I had healthy teeth. Most people don't share the fortune that I was lucky to get.

"Because in America, basic healthcare is a beauty product." 

When I was 18 I made up my mind. I was going to have a non profit devoted to bringing dental care to low income areas of the country that are vastly underserved. These areas have both a mix of "have dental insurance but no dentists" and a lack of income to afford dental care. Additionally, in these areas, carbs and sugar are the main staples. Because they're affordable. All of this results in deserving people not getting the dental care they need.

By being obsessed with my teeth, I'm crippled by insecurity. And I don't know if I'll ever get over it. But I can manage because I'm fortunate. Teeth somehow became status symbols that state our income. But dental care is a necessity, priced like a luxury. You need money to fix your teeth, you need a job for money and you need teeth for a job. The deserving are priced out of the system but held accountable for their lack of oral care. It's a privilege to have dental care in America. But yet teeth are used as a marker to how successful you'll be and how beautiful you are. We don't see dentistry as healthcare. We see it as pretty veneered smiles and beauty standards. Because in America, basic healthcare is a beauty product. 

Photo credit Daniel Frank

Marketing student with a focus in visual marketing with a addiction to coffee.


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