Healthy Smiles by Rita Tempel, DDS
It was back in 1944 when teacher Donald Gardner wrote, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” This is probably the number one holiday song in dental offices! Today’s holiday-themed column is going to talk about the importance of our front teeth—starting with the reason Gardner wrote this catchy tune.
“Gardner and his wife, Doris, were helping 22 second-graders in Smithtown, N.Y., compose a Christmas song. He asked them to complete the sentence, “All I want for Christmas is… ” and then began smiling as he heard 16 of them lisping wishes without the help of one or both front teeth. That night, in the space of 30 minutes, the 31-year-old music teacher composed the ditty that would bring him royalties until the end of his life.” This is what the LA Times wrote when Gardner passed away in 2004. (Two more fun facts about Donald Gardner: He was a Pennsylvania native and a graduate of the West Chester University School of Music!)
What Gardner realized is that our front teeth play a vital role in our lives. Most children lose their front teeth, usually one closely followed by the other, when they’re 6-8 years old. It typically takes several months until the new adult teeth erupt through the gums.
Without our front teeth, two of the biggest challenges are talking and eating. It’s difficult to bite into sandwiches and apples, for example. Front teeth are considered the central incisors—teeth that help us cut and tear our food.
I also want to touch on a more serious issue for a moment—accidents involving our front teeth. I have seen a number of patients over the years who have suffered damage to their front teeth—usually as a result of one of two situations: a fall, or a sports-related injury.
In one of the most serious cases, a patient lost his front teeth due to a motorcycle injury. After going without front teeth for several months, he’s on a slow road to recovery with a temporary partial to replace his missing teeth—helping him regain speech and normal chewing habits as well as boosting his self-esteem. Another patient, a young girl, lost both of her teeth after slipping in the shower. Thankfully, I was able to re-implant both teeth successfully within an hour of her accident.
Premature loss of adult teeth in the adolescent and teen years consequently require years of attention by dental professionals since adolescents are still growing, affecting their faces and mouths.
When we smile, the front teeth are truly “front and center.” Cosmetically, working with a dentist to improve the shape, width, or length of your front teeth can dramatically boost your smile—as well as your self-confidence.
In closing, if your child is missing his/her front teeth this Christmas, you just might be celebrating another holiday—the Fourth of July—by the time his/her beautiful new adult teeth have grown in. As the song goes, “Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth… Then I could ‘with’ you a Merry Christmas!”
Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles/Dr. Rita Tempel & Associates, a family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is a Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry as well as a Preferred Provider for Invisalign. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com or contact Dr. Tempel at 717-339-0033.