Celebrating Smiles | 22 August, 2019

Guest Post: An Arm, a Leg and a Tooth

I discovered that teeth have nerves earlier in my life than most. At twelve, I was knocked in the mouth with a hockey stick and it claimed a significant chunk of my lateral incisor with it.


I realised for the first time that teeth can die. We can lose them. It is at the expense of this tooth that I had to make this discovery. A tooth whose days are now strictly numbered. Since that day, teeth have always been very precious to me.

What if I’d lost my front tooth? The research tells me that I would not be well accepted into society. I’d appear less intelligent, less attractive, less trustworthy. I’d certainly lose credibility as a dentist.

Thankfully it doesn’t have to come to this. We have the skills and technology to be able to mimic the nature of how teeth look down to a fine art.

Under the beam of my headlight, I can’t help but appreciate the beauty in the way that the mineral of an untouched natural tooth reflects the light.

The opalescence that streaks across the surface. The translucency at the edges with tones of blue and amber. The natural grooves that mimic the shape of the rolling hills of the Waikato. The truth is, that despite our best efforts, a natural tooth is irreplaceable.

Any human body part is irreplaceable for that matter. An arm. A leg. But for some reason, teeth are placed in another category. Many of us accept tooth-loss like we accept hair-loss as a part of age.

But is tooth-loss any less of a disability than losing an arm or a leg?

Our teeth give us the ability to do some of the most enjoyable and most important things in life. The ability to eat. To talk. To smile. According to the World Health Organisation, tooth loss is in fact a disability.

We have more teeth to lose than limbs, this is true. But we use them just as much. And we have to do a lot more to take care of them. We have to brush them twice a day, floss daily, get them checked every year, limit dietary sugar and acid…but if we skipped brushing for one day, would it really make much of a difference?

The truth of the matter is that we wouldn’t feel any different from yesterday. But without us even realising, there could be tooth decay happening.

If this isn’t picked up on by a dentist in time, it can eventually do the exact same amount of damage as a hockey stick to a tooth. And we wouldn’t know about it until the day we are reminded that teeth have nerves.

I am 25 years old. I have a tooth that’s at the same stage of its lifetime as a tooth of an 80 year old. Dental problems are unique in that the same problems can be experienced across all ages.

Investing time and effort into looking after your teeth when you’re young is like being told to save for your retirement when you haven’t even paid off your student loan.

But we know that dental problems are preventable. So why skip brushing, even for one day?

It’s true that sometimes, it feels as though dentistry can cost an arm and a leg.

And yet, this is not a bad currency to be thinking in. Because the more teeth that are lost, the more we are realising that teeth are, in fact, worth just as much as an arm and a leg.

This Guest Post is written by   Lisa Bahho  – one of our dentists at  Lumino Masterton. Outside of work, Lisa likes to be in tune with her more creative and artistic side. She particularly loves writing on her blog  Odontogirl.