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Only a Plutocrat Would Judge Me Based on My Teeth

February 24, 2014

Only a Plutocrat Would Judge Me Based on My Teeth

The young woman in the picture is actor and union liaison Elizabeth Reynolds, daughter of Eve Bernhardt, who played Dorothy in David L. Hewitt’s 1965 science fiction sleeper, The Wizard of Mars, but the post is not about her. This photo was sent to me by her from her phone on October 8, 2009, long before I became homeless.

I was recently attacked by @fealtytonoone on Twitter who, using this picture, insisted that I am not brushing my teeth, which is simply false. Except for a few times when I’ve fallen asleep without doing it, I brush at least twice a day. The yellow that can be seen prominently in this photo cannot be removed by any dental or over the counter whitening procedure. He demonstrated a complete inability to learn the reality of the situation. Drs. Akwuba and Kang recognized immediately on sight what is wrong with my teeth, and the former is a Doctor of Osteopathy, and the latter an M.D. specializing in pain management, not dentists at all. Two dentists I visited told me that no amount of whitening strips or whitening toothpaste would ever correct the problem, that my only hope were dental veneers, and that it would be a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to put veneers on me while I still need braces.

It all started around 1979. I never liked it when Dr. Michael Hogan, my pediatrician, bent down my ears in examination, finding it rather painful, not to mention a difficult area to keep clean. One time, though, it was so painful with one ear that he couldn’t do it without me screaming my head off, because I had a terrible ear infection.

They put grape flavoring, my favorite fruit of the possibilities offered, in the medicine, but that didn’t stop it from tasting more like turpentine than grape, and my parents conceded to let me have a spoonful of Lady Borden vanilla ice cream (of all the ice creams I had had, that brand of vanilla was my favorite) to neutralize the extreme flavor of the medicine, which I still remember to this day. It wasn’t all that helpful in ridding my mouth of the repugnant flavor, but my parents had the sense not to let me have more than a spoonful except at dessert.

From the time my adult teeth grew in, they were the yellow color that you see. My dentist, Scott Jackin, insisted that no one would notice it but him. In spite of a severe underbite, he also didn’t recommend braces until I was over eighteen, which abetted my mother in harassing me for making faces like a bulldog when I was finding it physically impossible to pull my lower jaw behind my upper jaw. The reality is, everybody noticed it, told me it was nasty, and told me that I needed to brush my teeth, but nothing I could do ever reduced the yellow appearance. (Similarly, she would harass me for “waddling,” presumably an early stage of the limp that developed from my undiagnosed and untreated scoliosis.)

I never became a big fan of gum because of the need to spit out a nasty was, and I developed a bad habit of swallowing toothpaste that I have long since outgrown but did for much of my childhood. My parents blamed me, calling it dental fluorosis or hyperfluoridation, and it does somewhat resemble the yellow chunks of fluorite that we examined in earth science class.

Only by the time I was in college did my father admit that it was nothing I had done wrong, but rather that it was the medication that I was prescribed by for the ear infection when I was a toddler. Drs. Kang and Akwuba identified it as typical of the effects of tetracycline when given to children. Dr. Akwuba went on to say that even in 1979, in was the wrong medicine to prescribe, and that Dr. Hogan should have known better. By now, it was 2010, and doing an Internet search for Dr. Michael Hogan revealed to me that he had passed away in 2008, not long after my father. I did not want to trouble his family over an issue that was strictly a matter of professionalism. I didn’t even want to attack him, were he alive. I just thought that she should take some responsibility in helping me deal with the situation. Both operations cost thousands of dollars and are not covered by Medicaid.

One of the handful of straight guys (who asked me not to tell anyone that he had said it, so I will not use his name) I know at Unity of New York, where single straight women far outnumber single straight men, said that many of the women there had told him that they would be interested in dating me, except that my yellow teeth are an enormous turn-off, and several of the women I got to date me (once) off the Internet cited it as a reason for not wanting a second date. One woman online friend who loved tattoos considered that my finding tattoos a turn-off is less respectable than women finding my yellow teeth a turn-off. Since I would not be interested in dating anyone old enough to have been forcibly tattooed by Nazis, that’s essentially saying it’s perfectly appropriate to find a medical mistake unacceptable in a partner, but wrong to find a personal choice a bar to compatibility. Phil Jonas, in the career center at The College of Staten Island, advised me to get it corrected as soon as possible, because it’s hurting me in job interviews as well.

It is pure plutocracy to refuse to hire me (or date me, for that matter) for being unable to pay for purely cosmetic operations that cost thousands of dollars. My yellow teeth are entirely the fault of others, and there is nothing I could have done differently to prevent my teeth from being yellow. I have never experienced a dental drill. I have never needed more than a cleaning. A beautiful dentist in the financial district said “oh, please” when I said that women didn’t want to date me over my teeth, because my teeth are indeed incredibly healthy, but she wouldn’t add me when I found her on MySpace (odd that I found her on MySpace rather than Facebook in 2007, but that might explain the lack of response). No one in their right mind would expect someone with no income and four figures (or five figures, in 2008, after I inherited life insurance from my father’s passing) to spend it on a purely cosmetic operation, and thus, any potential employer who has turned me down is a plutocrat.

Anyone who would refuse to hire me over this condition deserves to experience homelessness as long as I have (closing in on 21 months).

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