(Top 5) Lessons Learned from Losing my Two Front Teeth

Whether it be a broken heart, being let go from a job, the death of a loved one… or something as unimaginable like…losing your two front teeth, life constantly supplies us with situations where we are forced to make a choice on how to respond to an unwanted and unplanned circumstance.  We go through stages, our mind can’t resist chatting with our ego, our emotions and our overall attitude. For me, I typically start with the WHY ME, followed by the WHAT COULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY and eventually embracing the… WHAT NEXT. Embracing what life has thrown my way IS my way of life. I’ve talked about my MS Diagnosis, the death of best friends, job changes, etc, but THIS accident, hit a whole new level. If you follow MindBodyGreen, you know the latest Blog Posts seem to reference a Top 5, 10, etc themes, intended to grab a readers attention. So I figured I’d write my own version 🙂

5 Lessons Learned… from Losing my Teeth.   

5) Freak Accidents Happen.  I think back to the day. Could I have done anything differently? Did I have any warning signs? No. I casually hopped on my bike to head to the Denver Broncos Football Game. Only 3 miles away, the beautiful October afternoon provided the perfect backdrop for what was to be… a happy day. You see, life had been really tough the weeks prior and I was very excited about a Sunday Funday. Only, my bike had a different agenda. First, it started to make a loud annoying noise. Within minutes, my frame and front wheel locked, catapulting me over my handlebars in airplane pose (Yogis – you know this visual), causing me to face plant the pavement at 10 MPH, hitting so hard that my glasses land 15 yards away, followed by my legs coming over my back (Scorpion-ing – Snowboarders – you know this visual) so that when I finally stopped, I was looking straight up, feet pointing in the direction I was biking. I had no idea what had happened. Completely panicked having witnessed my fall, my boyfriend rushed to me, fearing the worst, that I broke my neck. Luckily, I was in so much shock I couldn’t feel the pain as I sat up to attempt to talk to him.  Unluckily, I felt a huge hole between my completely shredded lips and then felt my shattered lost teeth embedded into the roof of my mouth. As I slowly laid back on the street, surrendering both my mind and my body to what was happening, all I could do was stare into the cloudless blue sky… then reality sunk in. I heard the ambulance sirens. Was I going to be OK? Why, why of all days did this happen to me? I knew I wasn’t making it to the football game. I had eaten a light lunch, saving room for stadium food. There would be no nachos for me that day. In fact, not for a while. As they say, “it is what it is”.  Accidents Happen.

within 10 days, my face healed fast
within 10 days, my face healed fast

4) Love Heals  With a brace secured around my neck, laying in the ER for the results of my brain and spine scans, the last thing I thought to do was “check myself in” on Facebook,  announcing my arrival to the hospital. However, being very concerned and believing in the power of positive thoughts and prayer, my Mom’s reaction was different; she posted a picture on Facebook of the two of us smiling, sharing the news of my accident and questionable condition with our friends and family. At first, I was very angry. My blood pressure soared. My privacy felt violated. I didn’t want to draw attention to my injuries. Or make people worry and feel obligated to reach out. But, almost instantly, my phone was blowing up! Calls from concerned friends around the country wishing me well. Text messages sending me support. FB posts, some from people I didn’t know, letting me know that I was beautiful no matter what. Friends, some I hadn’t heard from in years, reminding me of my strength and perseverance, having no doubt I would overcome this new obstacle.  I was overwhelmed with the response, the love I could feel being shared with me by way of words, flowers, cards, homemade soup — even a letter from the Tooth Fairy with $2 included! It took a few days for the silver lining to sink in, but no longer was I angry with my Mom’s post… in fact, I appreciated it. Letting people know I was in need of extra TLC resulted in an outpouring of love I’m convinced helped me heal. Within the first few days, with so many friends wanting updates on my condition, I decided to step out of my comfort zone one step further. I went “public” with photos of myself, some pretty graphic with a broken nose and busted up face. I wanted everyone to know their LOVE was working-  my face seemed to be healing,  much faster than I expected. The days I felt so bad I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror, my loved ones reminded me that no one could steal my smile, it came from my inside out. They checked in on me so I never felt alone in the process of discovering my new normal, without teeth. The love I’ve been gifted over the past 7 months has been nothing short of medicine for my soul. I firmly believe my body healed faster from the outpouring of awesomeness I generously received from my friends and family.

'Tis the Season... to Smile!
‘Tis the Season… to Smile!

3) SMILE… Even if you Don’t Have Teeth My accident happened two weeks before Halloween. While laying in the ER, my initial response was to start listing the various costume ideas to take advantage of my new smile. A Hockey Player? A Jack-O-Lantern? A Hillbilly? Even the idea of a Meth Head came up in conversation! I thought all of these were brilliant;  until the idea of wearing a Christmas Onesie and going as “All I Want For Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” popped into my mind. I couldn’t wait to dress up. I put my hair in pig tails and rocked my Boston Red Sox slippers. And the best part:  some people believed I had makeup on my teeth- never thinking I’d actually lost them! I LOVED their reaction to the realization that I… had no teeth. Of course, I was limited on my candy consumption, stealing all the Reece’s Cups from the bowl.  Having such a blast embracing my toothless grin on Halloween, I decided to ’tis the season and take my smile one step further. I invited a friend to go to the Mall to visit Santa and have some Christmas fun! Again, I wore my hair in pig tails, eager to ask him for my “two front teeth”. I don’t know what made me laugh more, sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time (I’m Jewish) or seeing the reaction of all the parents (many my age) in line with their little ones.  From day one, my attitude has been to make the most of my crooked smile. No way was the loss of two teeth going to get the best of me… if anything, it has forced me to stop sweating the small stuff, bringing out the best in me, by way of my silly smile.

 

2) Don’t Assume Anything About Anyone. The day after my accident was by far the worst. I’ll never forget the first time I looked in the mirror, my face so swollen I literally didn’t recognize myself.  With a broken nose, lips destroyed from the street and a face sore with scabs, I began to sob, a hard cry, that came from a scared place in my soul. My flowing tears had to create their own pathway down my scratched up cheeks. Would I ever look like my old self? I felt defeated. SO, what did I do? I picked my head up as high as I could and insisted on going to the grocery store to pick out the soup I would need to eat through a straw for the next few weeks. Arm in arm with my boyfriend (who I convinced to support my crazy decision to go out in public) I quickly realized I should have worn a T-Shirt with an arrow pointing to him that said “I Swear He Didn’t Do It”. We got glances. I got stares. For the first time I felt what it was like to be someone that didn’t choose my looks but appeared ugly and deformed, someone that people talked about. I stepped into the role of what it might feel like to want to hide your face. And, it felt awful. I’ll say that there were other people upfront with me, asking me what happened. For these folks I was more than happy to ease their curiosity. I’d rather someone know the truth than assume anything. Over the next few months, I got more comfortable with my new normal and announcing the loss of my teeth took a back seat to just… being me. For example, after my face had healed, I was in a personal essay writing class for 8 weeks, sharing stories, building friendships. To celebrate our final class, we all went out for food and drinks. This was the first time I’d taken out my teeth. To see their reaction, the “Oh my god, I would never have known” when I popped my teeth out,  was the same I got from most who were surprised by my party trick. Of course they didn’t know, why would someone think a pretty girl with a bright smile would be toothless? Many, if not most, of us, have gone through something in life that has changed us, making us who we are today. We often don’t wear our uniqueness on our sleeve. Fortunately, I have not taken anyone’s assumptions, or lack of, personally. If anything, I’ve been happy to create the awareness that what you see isn’t always what you get.  That saying “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” couldn’t be more true. Be mindful that everyone is fighting their own battles, whether you can see them or not.

1) Smile Flippers are Flipping Awesome I can’t eat with my fake teeth in. Drinking a glass of wine or coffee tastes different with a plastic retainer in, too.  Pretty much every day, I take my teeth out in public. And, the surprise reaction of a 36 year old gal missing her two front teeth, well, to me, is priceless. I’ve heard from many friends and strangers to friends I’ve met since loosing my teeth. Majority applaud my attitude, saying if it were them, they would not want anyone to know. They’d be embarrassed and didn’t want to look different or draw attention to a deformity. This wasn’t something I chose. This was something that happened. And it was up to me how to handle it. I could never imagine hiding my smile…  it is something I am proud to wear every single day! Brene Brown is famous for saying, “Vulnerability is the New Black” and I couldn’t agree more. Owning our path while choosing confidence and optimism is much more sexy and appealing than attaching to shame, guilt or embarrassment. It would honestly take more energy for me to intentionally hide my smile than it would for me to flash my tooth hole for the world to see. If I want to chew gum, I’m gonna pop my teeth out! If I want to eat hot wings, even if it means getting a little messy, I’m gonna pop my teeth out. If I conformed to society and adopted the idea that because I looked different, somehow I was not as worthy of enjoying these things, then I would be living against all I believe in, for everyone on the planet. Make peace with your situation. It usually could be worse. Feel grateful you are alive with a smile to share. Life is too short to hide your shine.  

Smile... even if you don't have teeth.
Smile… even if you don’t have teeth.

In addition to what I learned from within, I also gained knowledge on a process completely foreign to me before my accident.  Replacing teeth is ridiculously expensive (an entirely different blog post of how unfair it is that teeth are considered cosmetic) and I’m beyond grateful for the support from my Mom.  And, it’s a long process to get permanent implants… up to A YEAR! I’m 7 months into my recovery. In 2 weeks my Dentist will replace my smile flipper with a bridge, glued in to reshape my gum line. 3 months from then, the bridge will be replaced with my porcelain implants and I’ll only be required to visit with my Oral Surgeon for friendly follow ups. As crazy as it sounds, I’m actually going to miss “Rocking Out with me Teeth Out” aka, feeling proud of my One-of-a-Kind smile. It’s created a unique awareness of the food I eat. I brush my teeth… and my retainer. I fall asleep with my teeth out and put them back when I wake in the morning. I’m completely comfortable with my new normal and anyone that knows me will agree that I’ve had fun with my loss.  Missing teeth is a catalyst for all kinds of conversations. It’s helped me befriending a toothless homeless vet, a gal at a sandwich shop in Boston who also wore a “smile flipper” and of course, the countless waitstaff that I’ve surprised with my spaced smile when they return to fill my water glass. I even scored a free dessert from my lack of chompers! But, the people that presented themselves on my path that I will inevitably remember and appreciate most, are my Dentist and Oral Surgeon, my favorite Strangers To Friends of this experience, true Silver Linings. Both of them showed up serendipitously, amazing men who have made a painful experience, as painless as possible.

My question to you is, what are YOUR two front teeth? What have you been forced to accept?? How has your perceived setback actually been a stepping stone? What have you learned about yourself? Of others? Any fears overcome? My intention for writing this is to bring awareness to our choices, our attitude option and our ability to find the good in the bad, whether in the moment or months later. I encourage you to please share this post with anyone that needs help embracing their own “setback” in hopes my story inspires them to want smile from their inside out, too.

Scroll down to leave comments or share your story. Thank you 🙂

Comments 32

  1. Jennifer Tokash
    May 20, 2014

    “Make peace with your situation. It usually could be worse. Feel grateful you are alive with a smile to share. Life is too short to hide your shine.” Love this, great words to live by!

  2. May 20, 2014

    Thanks, Jen! Having gone through a lot this year, it took a while for me to get my “shine” back…. but now that it’s back, it is here to stay. Shine ON!

  3. Cindy
    May 20, 2014

    reading this today just put everything into a total new perspective!! I myself lost 3 of my front teeth in a car accident when I was 17, I was always ashamed and embarrassed about what had happened to me. Reading this blog today really just gave me a whole new outlook on the situation and how I should really be looking at it. Considering 8 people lost their lives in the accident I was lucky to only have lost what I did. Thank you so much Carlyn you seriously will never know just how much of a blessing this was for me to stumble upon today!

  4. Monica
    May 21, 2014

    I absolutely LOVE you and am so grateful that while our paths were parallel for many years – we have now finally crossed! You are an amazing woman and the vision you behold is one of many lessons and grace. xoxo 🙂

  5. Linda
    May 23, 2014

    Ah. You. I feel very humbled. I guess I need to go back to my corner and reconsider the “severity” of my situation. Because its really not severe at all. Its kind of a petty anxiety, actually. You, toothless eye opener. Love!

  6. May 24, 2014

    Wow…thank you so much for this wonderful post. I’m sorry to hear about your accident, but I am so inspired by your courage with how you have handled it…amazing! I lost my left front tooth back in 2008 (age 34 at the time) and went through this same experience (minus the painful accident part…mind was the result of a frozen strawberry and a baseball that hit my face back in 1992). I didn’t show anyone (except my wife) what I looked like without my tooth in (I didn’t get a flipper, but had the actual crown of my tooth glued in while the implant process went on). It did fall out once at an airport and that was quite an interesting experience. Anyway, it was traumatic and also a blessing on many levels. Losing my hair has also been quite painful, but also such a growth inducing experience. As a 40 year old man, I’m still working on embracing myself physically…I have better days than others. I think we focus too much on the external in our culture in so many ways and we miss the deeper issue…it’s about loving, accepting, and making peace with who we are, how we look, the things that happen and change in our lives, how we age, and more. I honor you for your courage and vulnerability!

  7. May 27, 2014

    reading this truly brings tears to my eyes. thank you so much for sharing with me that I made a difference in your day, I really hoped that by writing my story that others would get something out of it. Cindy, I can not imagine what you have gone through, but you are a brave woman and truly blessed to be able to rock your beautiful smile. It really is a new world with a new perspective! Proud of you.

  8. May 27, 2014

    THANK YOU!!!! You and I are a perfect example that all is right on time… XOXO

  9. May 27, 2014

    No matter how “sever” a situation is, it is YOUR situation, and you are entitled to feel strongly for it. But, if you can find a new perspective, in that YOU are not your story, it is merely a small part of you… well, your problem will inevitably get even smaller 🙂 Love YOU!

  10. May 27, 2014

    Mike, WOW, hats off to you for stepping out and sharing this with me & all who take the time to read it. It’s funny… the aging process. Society tries to convince us that “growing older” is a bad thing… or our genes aren’t good enough… and we can pop a pill, or nip/tuck, etc… and we will feel more acceptable. Sure, there are ways to stay younger looking– eating healthy, protecting skin from the sun, regular exercise and a healthy attitude, but at the end of the day, we are BLESSED to grow old! So many people die far too young and would give anything to have a wrinkle or grey hair. Plus, our parents made us. We are DNA. Everyone’s is different. It’s a shame society puts so much emphasis on being “the same” when really we should celebrate our uniqueness– ha, it’s way more fun and far less stressful… 🙂 THANK YOU for your feedback, it is a confidence booster for me. And yea, it’s OK that you were embarrassed about your tooth, it’s tough, I get it. It’s all about living and learning 🙂 Cheers to our Journey!!!!!

  11. Nicosha Cutright-Kaup
    July 10, 2014

    Very inspiring and well said!

  12. July 11, 2014

    thank YOU very much!!

  13. Linda
    October 30, 2014

    Go Carlyn. I can vicariously commiserate. Its been quite the ride…

  14. Lori
    July 9, 2015

    Thank you for this page. My two front teeth are being replaced by implants, which will take 5 months. I was in a car accident when I was 16, and my teeth had root canals. I am now 37 and I injured my tooth, so now the best choice is to get them both pulled and have dental implants placed. It is truly scary, and it brings up all of the fears and feelings that have taken me 21 years to forget. I was also scarred in my accident, which i felt so lucky to still have my teeth. Now I don’t. I know I can make it through this as I made it through the last, but it doesn’t make it easy. I appreciate learning from other’s experiences, and you give me hope that it can be OK either way. Life is making the best of your situation, which can change at any minute. Thanks again 🙂

  15. August 17, 2015

    Lori, I am SO SORRY it has taken me over a month to respond to you! First of all, we are the same age 🙂 Second of all, by you taking control of your health and your teeth, you are helping yourself heal from the trauma you have carried with you for 21 years. I can only imagine how scary that was; lucky for me I do not remember being thrown off my bike as it happened so fast!
    But, I would like to remind you that even though this time may be difficult
    for right now, I now that you have the strength and resolve to make it
    through this. The voice in our head can keep us small… or empower us to stand tall and face our “fears”. Please keep me posted! Feel free to send me a photo of your new smile. I will try my best to help you have fun with your tooth hole, too. XOXO carlyn@strangerstofriends.com

  16. Ruth
    October 22, 2015

    Hi:
    I am now a senior. But back when I was 8 years old and had just grown my two front teeth I went over the handle bars of my bike and broke the center out of my two new teeth. I lost one tooth that winter. Lost the second tooth the following winter. I was shamed and ridicule by my peers at school to the point where I would rather not go out in public than go without my denture. At ten years of age I was fitted with my first denture. I have worn a denture ever since with the exception of a few years when I had a bridge made. That collapsed and then I lost a third front tooth. Ity is just one more of my many losses in life which I am healing. I am currently launching a healing service for others to heal their losses. So it had a purpose as it was an indicator for my life even though I did not realize it at the time. Ruth

  17. Marc Luu
    January 7, 2016

    This blog post made me feel a bit better. I lost my two front teeth on New Years Eve and have been feeling a little down since then. Good to see you were able to have a lot of fun with it. Luckily you already had a boyfriend. What girl is gonna be okay with a dude that has a toothless grin??

  18. Laura
    February 20, 2016

    What a great post! I am a “recovering dentist,” so I was particularly interested in it, and I have to say the part where you thanked your dentist and oral surgeon gave me warm fuzzies! Losing your teeth like this creates such a huge sense of loss. You handled this so well, and have such a great attitude. I love that you don’t try to hide it. There is nothing to hide, and you see that your friends probably respect you more for being real. Isn’t it amazing how when you open yourself up and be real and be yourself, many people will come out of the woodwork to let you know they care about you? It’s one of the beautiful things about people. Anyway, I saw your link to your blog on Nextdoor, and I had to come check it out. I love it!

  19. Ginny
    June 8, 2016

    Thank you for sharing and making me smile! I’m dealing with the same issue right now and needed to hear your sweet words! I was depressed and insecure for years about my missing tooth and flipper. It has been my little secret for 3 years, since the tooth has been gone, only my husband knows I wear a flipper. 😉 today I feel a bit more secure, thank you!

  20. Veronica
    September 25, 2016

    Hello! I am Veronica from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Me sirvio mucho leer tu articulo! Thank you, you are very strong-

  21. September 26, 2016

    Hi Veronica! Thank you 🙂 Did you lose your teeth? If you did, I hope you are still smiling.

  22. Aaron Beech
    October 4, 2016

    My take is a bit different. I think the upbeat attitude is only as good as the hope to fix the problem and replace the teeth. If you know you can afford implants, the only real solution, then of course you will know this horror will eventually be in your past. However, many many people can never even dream of a permanent solution to their tooth loss. It is not so easy to maintain an upbeat attitude about a disfiguring loss which also impedes the ability to eat properly when one knows it will be forever.

  23. October 6, 2016

    Hi Aaron, I can’t say that i don’t agree with you. I wanted, and still want to be, an advocate for dental work and fight for those that need teeth! It is NOT fair that they are “cosmetic”. I sat with a homeless vet missing the SAME teeth and we talked about this very thing. Yes, knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel helped me process the loss. But,I did not know this light in the first few weeks.I really had no idea what the outcome would be. And in that first week, being disfigured and not easy on the eyes, I still went out and held my head high and smiled as best I could. And that helped me to feel more confident. I actually had to get used to having teeth again. They felt very claustrophobic for the first few weeks. I was used to not having them. It was so weird. At the end of the day, everything is a choice. We might not have the best “options” but we do have choices. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me 🙂 Cheers to the journey, friend.

  24. Trichy Reader
    October 14, 2016

    Oh, how I love this post! My “two front teeth” is my trichotillomania (look it up if you haven’t heard of it – 1 in 50 people have this secret disorder, usually women!) Most people have no idea that I wear a wig, and one of my favorite things is the once-in-a-while occasion where I let a stranger in on my secret after they’ve just complimented my “hair.” Their reaction when I tell them its a wig is priceless! <3

  25. Merrit
    October 14, 2016

    Girl… that cup of coffee this morning was good fuel for writing… I love this and it is so aligned with my current challenges. Way to embrace the journey… its definitely inspiration to embrace mine. The outcome is never good if we try to fight what life dishes up. Surrender and make lemonade out of lemons. Can’t wait to hear about your trip when you return!

  26. October 15, 2016

    Tricky– Receiving stories like yours, make my day! Love that you own your stylish self and laugh with life! Thank you for being you!

  27. Skipper Davidson
    December 10, 2016

    I broke my front crown just before Christmas and an opportunity to meet new people. I consider myself put together, stylish and attractive. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut the whole time. I could wear a surgical mask and say I was avoiding the flu but in the end I decided I am more than a gap in my mouth. I laughed out loud and everyone laughed. Was it how witchy I looked or was I endearing and brave. I like the latter. Now I am singing All I want for Christmas is my crown. tee hee

  28. Verónica
    December 25, 2016

    Hi from Buenos Aires!
    I am Verónica, I am 46 and a translator from Argentina. I would like to tell you that 7 years ago I fainted at night and I fell down in my patio, And… my mouth hit the floor and many teeth were fractured and gone!! 🙁 I lost two molars, a front tooth and a lateral one, on the left part of my mouth and one on the right side, too. I also broke the joint of my jawbone ( the condilo of the maxilar). At first I felt destroyed, so miserable, and I did not know how I would get over that! How to continue my life. I tell you that due to the high cost of implants I still have my two molars missing, and I ´ve had what is called in Spanish ” perno corona”, post-crown. The problem is that I still can not get over my accident and I suffer a lot, I can not believe what happened to me. The thing is that whenever I brush my teeth my gums bleed and are inflamed, so this is a constant reminder of the accident! I can not leave it at the back of my mind, in the Past where it belongs. I feel so bad I ve even talked about this with my psychologist in more than one session, yes. I know that bacteria deposit in the gap between the crown and the gums and that creates a bad odour, puaj!! =(
    I have read that I have to make “buches” with warm water and oxigenated water three times a day because it is an effective antiseptic.
    The worst thing of all is that I have always been quite a perfectionist so I can not tolerate to have my mouth like this at all!!! I feel ugly, old and untidy. I have always thought that teeth fell out only when people grow very old, naturally… But my accident has sped this process… As you can see I´m totally hopeless and depressed ( And bear in mind that this unfortunate event happened SEVEN YEARS AGO!!!!!!!!!) It has been totally traumatic. What can you suggest I can do? Please write to me , I feel I will immediately feel better. Thanks beforehand. And sorry for my imperfect English! 🙂 Vero from B.A.

  29. Novalee Jadlowski
    September 7, 2017

    Hi! I am 15 years old,a dnI recently had to have my front tooth removed because of a messed up root canal 6 years ago. Your blog really inspired me, because being 15, I care what people think of me. Your post really changed my perspective. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Novalee Jadlowski
    September 7, 2017

    I would get a dental implant, but we have to wait until I am at least 17, so I have a flipper now, and I really don’t like taking it out in front of people! XD

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