Edentulous. I came across this word recently when I was reading about teeth. I’d never heard it before and I said it out loud, playing around with the sound of it, wondering how hard it might be to say it if I were edentulous or “lacking teeth”. My nan was edentulous. She kept her dentures in a glass on the bedside table next to the teasmade. (I don’t know which she did first in the morning, put in her teeth or have a cup of tea.)
I remember, as a five-year-old, realising that one day I would be old, and all my teeth would fall out. My face would look strange if I didn’t put my dentures in, just like nanny’s. And I would complain a lot about not being able to eat toffees.
Almost five decades later, I’m at the dentist. It’s my third appointment in three months and I’m starting treatment for my second crown. As a five-year-old, I might have been excited at the prospect of having gold in my mouth. As a fifty-something, I’ve been preoccupied with the cost. That’s why I’ve been reading books with titles like Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye.¹
“Have some sunnies.” The dental nurse hands me a pair of sunglasses before fastening a blue paper bib around my neck. I lay back in the chair and take the long ride down.