oral history


This smile – the upper central incisors, or more specifically, the yawning space between them – was cooked up well before she was.

I know this from experience: That the permanent teeth, when they replace the primary, will not come any closer together. Oversized and at odd angles, they will leave a wider gap and a kookier effect, one that brings to mind second-grade picture day and bangs home-cut in a blunt line over the eyebrows.  

After a while, she will want braces to nudge them into alignment. I will say, “Sure, of course, let’s figure it out.” But I also will sigh and remember the baby girl’s silly face. She will think I am being sentimental and that I don’t get it. But, no. I get it. (She throws me in front of so many different versions of myself. This one makes me feel old.)

Anyway, it will work. But eventually, despite the wires and rubber bands and the calcium-scaly retainers, the teeth, like glaciers, will drift slowly apart again. You might not see it in her mouth. But in another’s.

I like how they say of new teeth, that they “erupt.” Like something that will not stay buried.


2 thoughts on “oral history

  1. What a happy and beautiful baby Alice is! And what a heartfelt smile she has!
    I’ve always wanted my children to have spaces between their teeth for cavity prevention. Alice will be more likely to HAVE her original teeth and will be able to take advantage of the senior citizen discount in her “twilight” years!

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