32 Comments

I appreciate your writing about teeth today. I too experienced horror at the dentist at a very young age (I was 3 the first time. Dr. Ousley was already 65 the first time I saw him, and had been practicing for probably 40 years). The equipment was old school, and Mom didn't like needles, so no Novocaine. I have a long history of teeth horrors. Happy now to have good dentists at Kaiser, although my body still tenses the second I walk in the door, and I fill with adrenaline even for a cleaning. I don't believe people should be shamed for grinding their teeth. That's just wrong. Do they get shamed by their doctors for clenching their fists? Having their shoulders around their ears? Good for you for continuing to bear up under all that in order to take care of your teeth. Personally, I believe we all should have free medical care that includes every part of our bodies, including teeth, hearing, eyes, and mental health.

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Three years old!!! How frightening! I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to deal with dentists now although maybe the newer, kinder technology helps. And yes, healthcare should include teeth, eyes, and ears. It's impossible to have good health if you can't eat ..

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I did the quiz and have been classified as ‘A Defender’. For the most part I recognise me in the analysis, though I must have answered the question about standards incorrectly. I see myself as something like an unedited book and I’m happy to stay that way. My friends are far from perfect and I take comfort in this. There is something reassuring in a book with a few howlers. Fully edited people (and books) can be a pain and I often wonder how many others does it take to achieve such perfection?

How much money we spend on our teeth, and on what, says a great deal about us and the societies we live in. Teeth are like toilets. Most writers ignore both. As always Betsy you have that lovely willingness to boldly go/go boldly where others dare to tread. Teeth? No. Sex? Yes. Great stuff.

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OOPS. A howler at the end. Should read: to boldly go/go boldly where others dare NOT to tread. AND another gaff Betsy, I hope you recover quickly; get a pen in your hand and can walk your companions. Your other half is, I assume, taking good care of you. 🐰

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Ha! Thank you,Robert, yes, he has done a great job in spite of his still-healing collarbone. And the dogs are always willing to help distract me.

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I just finished Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. She’s one of my favorite authors and this latest book is beautifully written. Painful, hopeful, devastating, eye-opening. I didn’t want it to end.

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Sep 9, 2023·edited Sep 9, 2023Author

I have yet to read it but you and @Sandra de Helen should talk!

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Sep 11, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Loved it; a bit too long. Big fan of BK.

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Hi Cindy, I'm another super fan of this book. It should be required reading, imo. People need an understanding of the Appalachian people, region, and history.

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Sep 10, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Hi Sandra, I think I might just have every book she’s ever written. She really speaks to my heart. In this one she managed to tell the story of opioid addiction, love of home, and equal parts feeling unworthy and knowing that nobody deserves to be treated like they’re unworthy. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful all at once.

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I've read them all, but I don't own a lot of books for storage reasons. Kingsolver became one of my favorite writers when a work colleague recommended The Bean Trees in 1988 or 89. Her progression as a writer has been wonderful to see. I'm so pleased she got the Pulitzer for Demon.

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Sep 13, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Enjoyed your tooth essay & the revelation of your personality (no surprise). What I have discovered, in art & writing, is that the journey is what counts & accomplishments and accolades are lovely, but they ALL end the same way. Some have told me to take a long, deep breath & just BREATHE. I love the FINISH & can't wait to get there, but I've instructed myself to take it slower and take several long breaths (it helps with dental bills); sometimes it works.

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That's the great leveler, isn't it? We all wind up in exactly the same place no matter how much we manage to worry or do. I'll settle for "sometimes it works" and try harder (oh god, there's some stress now in that!) to be calmer and more accepting.

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Sep 11, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I listened to the commercials from my youth & wanted WHITE teeth; clean white, pearly teeth. And so, no matter where I ventured I carried my FIRM tooth brushes with me, (7); one for each rotating day of the week. Residing in the South Lake Tahoe area in my early 20's I noticed a black dot on a prominent tooth; HOW COULD THIS BE? I brush & brush & brush. Appointment made; Dentist investigates & reports...that my chronic brushing had removed the enamel. SCREAM! He suggested ONE SOFT brush for the future. Mama was right; MODERATION.

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I had no idea that could happen! I guess most of us are so much more lackadaisical that we would never know. My dad was find of saying, "everything in moderation, including moderation." That probably would have helped you with your teeth ....

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Sep 9, 2023·edited Sep 9, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I've been lucky with fixing my teeth, so far. But they are definitely graying, supposedly because of my mom using prescription medicines (antibiotics I think?) when I was in utero. I'm not prepared to go the route of veneers or caps...yet.

And I agree that teeth are revealing, as far as writing characters go.

However, having been a caretaker for my mom, I know she let her teeth go for various reasons as she aged. One, dental care is expensive and most state health care entities like Medi-Cal only cover pulling teeth, which is terrible. Later on, she couldn't stand to have the expensive plate that filled the gaps left by missing teeth, and would take it out whenever I wasn't looking. I eventually gave up and she spent her last years with gaps I grew accustomed to and eventually fond of.

I'm honored to have my memoir in such company!

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My mom rebuilt her entire mouth after multiple broken teeth and related issues. I inherited the tendency to clench from her I guess. Her new teeth, all crowns , make her smile more readily.even tough we joke that they will gleam long after she's gone.

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Oct 6, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Goodness gracious, having to watch a National Geographic documentary right before a dental appointment sounds almost as terrifying as if they were playing "Little Shop of Horrors."

I always love your posts. Thank you so much for mentioning my book!!

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I'm an Advocate too! I often feel like I never meet any others, so this is extremely comforting <3 (Are we also surprised that I've had extremely similar jaw/teeth issues?!)

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Apparently Advocates are a smaller group than the others, something I didn't know until I took the test. It's nice to know we are in it together! And no, I'm guessing we shouldn't be surprised that we share the jaw/teeth issues. May there is a "Advocate syndrome.,"

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I'm a campaigner.

I read such a variety of books, that I've never entered a comment here.

I recently read The Maze at Windermere. It was really five short stories in serial form that were all centered on Newport Rhode Island in five different times. I was captivated by the fifteen and a half year old Quaker girl from 1692. Her story was written as a diary. She was recently orphaned with a three year old sister and a slave girl that she owned. She took things into her own hand and overcame all the obstacles to keep everyone happy and with a bright future.

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The structure of the book sounds interesting as does the story that captivated you. I'm now wondering if certain books speak to certain personality types. Do you notice if you are drawn to particular subjects or genres?

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I purposely pick a variety of books and genres. So I can't say this applies, but it may. All five stories in this book were quite different in style and subject, but this is the one that kept me looking forward to reading.

The personality test seemed quite accurate.

BTW: I own the book and was going to put it in one of the local LFLs. I can send it to you if you want, and you can do the same.

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I hope you are recovering well Betsy. I saw that one of your notes was posted from the dentist’s chair and that piqued my curiosity. This post brought up so much for me which was surprising since I didn’t know teeth could do that. Thank you!

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Betsy, thank you so much for featuring my memoir, "When Your Heart Says Go" in Spark. I am delighted. Honored. Giddy. And so pleased to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Jennifer Silva Redmond and her new memoir, "Honeymoon at Sea." Our stories have much in common as your introduction says. Thank you for all you do for authors, writers, and readers.

Wishing you all kinds of good health and recovery from what is being done to your teeth. All of it sounds so painful.

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I had a horrible overbite when I was a kid that was thankfully fixed with braces. I used to grind my teeth when I had a stressful job. Once I left the job, the teeth grinding stopped. The only other thing I've geen guilty of is brushing my teeth too hard. Sigh. (on the subject of books, I absolutely hated Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage)

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I've never read "Baby Teeth" but now I'm curious...I didn't have braces when I was a kid but I had a gap between my two front teeth -- three of the five of us kids did. A dentist removed the skin between my teeth and they went together. For months, my upper lip was so swollen, I looked like Donald Duck. I'm glad the job and the grinding both ended!

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Although I was leery to read anything else by her, I have liked the books she's written after Baby Teeth. Our kids needed braces too. My husband had a gap between his 2 top teeth but even with removing the skin and braces, he still has it. I had no idea removing it would make your upper lip swell!

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

She was a trooper.

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Ah, yes, bruxism. Grinding teeth. I was doing it. too, and had my dentist make me a $450 tooth guard. Then I discovered that I had Lyme disease, and when that was treated (and cured) the bruxism stopped (along with the jaw spasms and muscle twitches). Now my dentist tells everyone who comes in with bruxism to get tested for Lyme.

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Wow, thanks for this. I will get it checked but I suspect it isn't true for me. If it were.that would mean that I've had Lyme since I was a kid and after watching two friends and family member deal with the long term version of the disease, I don't have any other symptoms.

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I agree that it's highly unlikely that Lyme is the cause of your bruxism. But I wanted to put my experience out there in case other readers might have the symptoms I had.

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