Once I was surrounded by friends. Once I was young, healthy and gleaming white. Now I am old and alone. I am weak and wobbly and the colour of a banana that is well past its prime. And a banana that is well past its prime is about all that I can manage to sink myself into these days.
All my friends have long gone. They have been replaced with bright white plastic replicas that Winifred takes out of her mouth each night, along with the bright pink plastic replica gums into which they are set.
I am the sole survivor, a lone relic of the good old days, a chipped, discoloured, tiny monument to the way things were. I am Winifred’s tooth.
More specifically, I am Winifred’s right canine. I am easily visible when she opens her mouth. She is stubbornly proud of me, refusing to have me extracted even though I might be considered a bit of an eyesore. But I am real. I am a link to her youth. I can remember the days when I was a part of a smile that melted the hearts of many a man. The smile that captured Wilfred, her husband of forty odd years.
When the replicas have retired for the night, to bathe in their bedside glass of sparkling liquid, when Winifred has slipped away into a deep sleep forgetting her age, appearance and infirmity, I am left alone in the moist cavern of her mouth, feeling the resonance of her light snoring, the breeze of her shallow, fragrant breath.
Why me? I wonder. How is it that I have lasted so long when all my friends have cracked and crumbled, succumbed to the dentist’s pliers, been discarded and forgotten? Will I accompany her to her grave? Will I lie there for eternity in the plot which already contains Wilfred? The little corner of England that she has preserved for herself since he was buried that 1989? Will I share that fate with the plastic replicas, or will they be discarded before the funeral? These are the questions I ponder on those lonely nights.
I have had a good life, and I like to think that I have served her well. If she had looked after us better in her youth, there may have been more of us survived, but Winifred came from a time before national health dentistry, and when toothpaste seemed to be something of a luxury, and no one had ever heard of dental floss, or the dangers of barley sugars, and untipped cigarettes to oral hygiene.
I am Winifred’s tooth. I am old, but not quite as old as Winifred, or her tongue, but like them, I will not be here much longer. Listen to what I have to say if you want your own teeth to last. Cherish them. Get them regularly looked at. Cut down on the sugary drinks and snacks, and brush them regularly. A well cared for tooth is a friend for life, and a mouthful of well cared for teeth is a gift from the good Lord above. As long as you treat them right, they will never let you down.