Trials and tribulations of knocking your own teeth out

Keeping a 9-year-old boy in teeth requires a strong stomach and a wad of cash.
Keeping a 9-year-old boy in teeth requires a strong stomach and a wad of cash. McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Nine-year-old boys knock their teeth out a lot. That is simply scientific fact, one verified by my son's dentist, who told me "9-year-old boys knock their teeth out a lot" both times I took my 9-year-old in to the dentist because he knocked out his tooth.

The first time was shortly before Christmas. You know how 9-year-olds theoretically have the power to walk, how they technically learned mobility 7 or 8 years before, but instead of using their legs to "cross a finite space" they "fall on purpose" and "flop around like panicking safari animals" and "act like someone has lit some of their socks on fire"? Yeah, he was doing that. So, surprise, he ended up taking a bite of floor, breaking his tooth off about halfway up, just shy of the nerve, in one of those severe-looking dental injuries that makes a parent think two things: 1. "GASP! MY PRECIOUS LITTLE MAN IS INJURED!" 2. (whatever the sound is when you run out of money).

(Actual fact: When your kid cracks his tooth off, you're supposed to keep the broken half submerged in milk. Milk! Genius, and a way better idea than mine, which was to keep it in a Slurpee.)

Now, again, my 9-year-old spends a solid percentage of his time impacting other objects on purpose with his body, objects such as walls, floors, walls then floors, most of our coffee tables, his toddler brother, the dishwasher somehow and, in one case, a sliding glass door he believed incorrectly to be open. (In fairness to the little man, while painful, that was also hilarious.)

Luckily, that first time, the fix was easy: The next morning we toted the milk/tooth baggie (which weirdly sat overnight looking like the worst snack in the fridge) to the dentist, who reattached the broken part and had him back to school an hour later. The problem was solved and Christmas was saved -- until about a month later, when he knocked out the same tooth on the playground by clocking his own mouth with his knee. For most readers, that sentence will result in the following thoughts, "Wait, he hit his own face with his knee? Can that even be done? Do human bones even bend that way?" For anyone who lives with a 9-year-old, it's more like a slow nod with a distant, quizzical expression.

Anyway, figuring that my son would very likely spend the next few years hitting other objects with his face, we opted for the crown this time.

Crowns, of course, require visits to dentists with long, expensive and Christmas-ruining titles. They also require 9-year-olds to sit motionless in a chair while people do things with sharp glinting metal objects designed for scraping and horror -- all of which my son endured with heroic patience and poise while I did things like look up once when they were injecting painkillers into his gums and nearly died. Seriously, this is a kid who can barely make it through an episode of "MythBusters" without falling off the couch a dozen times, and he took several episodes of scraping and getting those gross molds done like a champ. (To be fair, to calm him before the procedure they did give him a tiny bit of Xanax. Now, normally I don't support that sort of thing for children, but after like 45 minutes I was like, "BUT HE'S BEING SO MAGICALLY QUIET!")

And that was three weeks ago, and, knock on wood, everything's been fine so far, although we've cut way down on caramel apples, Super Ropes and rock candy, which is easy since we're not Amish. And it's held to what the dentists told us: That this would be more permanent (which it is), match perfectly (which it does) and more reliably withstand the natural violent tendencies of the average fourth-grader (oh God, way too early to tell).

Jeff Vrabel had braces in the 11th grade, not that he continues to let that bother him or anything. Follow him at and read more at


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