Mental Health

The Crack

The Crack 

The moment when you’re enjoying your sandwich and you hear snap, crackle, pop. But, it’s not from the cereal. Well…maybe, it didn’t quite play out that way. It was more like a shift. Here it goes, just imagine this. You’re enjoying your favorite sub. You’re starving. Salivating for that first bite and you take it! Boom! Your tooth shifts. You take another, and you hear a distinctive sound, you recognize, but you deny all the same. What would you do? This isn’t a question from that game show, but it was my dilemma a few days before 4th of July weekend.

To say I was flabbergasted would be putting it lightly. So, I packed up my crap along with the sandwich for my hubby. I told the young man who served me what happened, and he replied, ‘Was the bread too hard?’. I wanted to respond, but I didn’t think I it would have a favorable outcome, so I ignored the statement and proceeded out the door. I headed to my dentist. Now…lucky for me my dentist was literally right down the street and it was Friday. Why is that relevant? Most dentist offices close early or are not open on Fridays.

Long, short, I get there with only minutes to spare. They squeeze me in, take x-rays, and have me wait for the hygienist and the doctor. In the meantime, the tech is putting up my x-rays. Then, he glances at me with this weird look on his face. That look when someone has bad news but doesn’t really want to say it. Yeah, that look. So, he starts with this. “You have several options.”

“I’m thinking options, why would he say I have several options? Is it really that bad? I know I felt a – ‘lil shift, can’t they just shift it back.”

He gets my attention again. “That dye was used to see if there was any damage to your tooth when you took that bite into the sandwich.” He points to an area of my tooth. “See this line here?”

“Yes.” I nod.

“Well, unfortunately. Your tooth cracked.”

“My tooth cracked?” I repeat.

“Yes, and there are only a few ways to replace it?”

“OK. What are those?”

The tech shifted his body as my husband walks in and asks, “What’s going on?”

I turn go to the bathroom. I really want to go in there and scream on the top of my lungs, ‘cause this isn’t any tooth. It’s one of my front two teeth. Instead, I use the bathroom and return to my chair and see that my husband’s now up to speed on what’s going on. By this time, the tech has this tray of teeth.

“You have three options, you can get an implant, get a flipper, or pull the tooth.”

“Wow…” I said.

“I know this is a lot to take in, but those are your options now. However, we can make you an appointment with an orthodontist or periodontist to discuss further, but we need to do it soon because many of them close early. I’ll give you a moment to think this over and come back.”

I look down at my watch. It’s 1:30.

“So, what are you gonna do?” My husband, Greg ask.

“I guess, I’ll get the implant.”

I thought to myself, who wants to go around with missing front teeth. Even if you do get a flipper, don’t you want something permanent. “Cause you have to take those out at night. Now…you’ll be looking like a meth addict when you’re at home. Missing teeth and crap. Nobody’s got time for that!”

Long, short of it. I got an appointment for the next week with the doctor from their referral list and I made myself an appointment with another from the list, but I wouldn’t be able to see either of them for another two weeks. In the meantime, 4th of July week was coming up and I had to be extra careful eating. And biting into any corn on the cob was not an option. It seemed everything I ate caused my tooth to shift more.

Well, a week passed, and it was time for my evaluation at the periodontist. I had the 3d x-ray and they’d already had me pay three-hundred plus, for the x-ray alone. Now, I was waiting to talk to the finance lady about the expense of the implant. Mind you, I do have insurance.

“Good morning Kimberley,” the lady says.

“Good morning.” I say. I can’t remember her name and becomes irrelevant after this next statement.

She looks over at Greg. “Is this your husband.?”


“I’m glad to meet you,” she says as she extends her hand and continues. “We’re glad you got here when you did.”

“Yes. They said it was a crack and I would need an implant.”

She nods. “Yes, that’s correct. However, it’s done in stages and that’s why we’re here.”

Stages? I’m just trying to get this fixed.

She continues explaining the stages, and then, she slaps me with this statement. “The total cost of this procedure will be five-thousand seven hundred and fifty-two dollars. How would you like to pay this?”

I did say at the beginning, I have dental insurance. What the fuck is what I’m thinking, and it must’ve been on my face. ‘Cause the next thing she says is.

“I’ll give you two a moment to discuss this.” As she stands and leaves the office.

“Did she say, five thousand and seven hundred plus dollars for this procedure?” I ask Greg

“Yep. That’s what she said.”

“What the hell? Does she think people are walking around with that amount on their person?”

He shook his head. “I guess.”

Greg is not making this better, I’m about to jump out my skin.

“So….” He says. “We have to pay this upfront?”

“Well, yeah. That’s why she asked how you would like to pay this?”

“Oh.” Greg says. “What kinda person has that much on them?”

“I don’t know?” Now he wakes up “Maybe they put it on a credit card?”

“So, what are you going to do?” Greg asked.

“I guess, I’ll wait and see what the other doctor says next week. It can’t be this much.”

The door knob turns, and finance lady walks back in. “So, what did you decide?”

“Question.” I said. “You don’t bill the insurance company?”

“Well, yes. But––we take the money upfront and bill them afterwards and we refund you the difference, if there is an overpayment.”

“Oh.” I said. I’m thinking…what kinda crazy shit is this. This is gansta!

“Got it.”

She hands me a folder. “Well, here’s the information for the procedure along with the medicine to help you relax before you come in,” the lady explained. “You also have information from a dental finance company to use as an option. We look forward to seeing you next week,” she said.

We shook hands and left the office.

We hadn’t gone down the street five minutes and my phone rang. It was the other periodontist.

“Hello.” I said.

“Hi. Ms. Mullins?”

“Yes. This is she.”

“We had a cancellation and we were wondering if you could come in on Monday.”

“Yes. Of course. I can.”

“Great. We’ll see you then.”

“God is good.” I said after hanging up the call.

“Who was that?” Greg asked.

“It was the other doctor’s office. They were able to move my appointment up to Monday.”

“Oh wow.” Greg said. “Hopefully, they are more reasonable.”

I nodded. “I hope so.”


Evening rolled in and I decided to call my dad and share the devastating news. The phone didn’t ring two times before he picked up.

“Well, hello there.” Dad said.”

“Hey. How are you doing?”

“How are you doing?” He mocks me.

“I was hoping to get a ‘lil support. I got more jokes than support. You know how your parents do…. they must be brutally honest. Especially, at the times you hope they won’t be.

“I’m fine.”

“Really.” He said. “You don’t sound fine. What’s going on?”
It’s funny, now. But, before I had my son. I couldn’t understand how parents knew when you’re not fine. I guess that sixth sense kicks in.

“I cracked my tooth today eating this darn sub sandwich.” I said.


“Yeah. That’s what I said when I heard this pop.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Did they pull it out?” Dad asked.

“Well…that’s another story.”

“What? You don’t have insurance?”

I’m shaking my head. Sometimes, Dad is worse than mom when it comes to jumping to conclusion. “I have insurance. And I saw a periodontist today, but I need to wait. I have another appointment on Monday for another evaluation.”

“What? The first guy wasn’t good enough?”

“They were too expensive.” I said

“Well how much do they want?” Dad said.

“Over five thousand dollars!” I said.

“What? You gotta be kidding me. Which tooth is it?”

“It’s the front tooth.” I said.

“So, you’re gonna be a snag a tooth.”

He laughs.

“That’s not funny.”

“I know. I’m just playing. They don’t take your insurance or something?”

“See–––that’s the problem. The office we saw earlier doesn’t take it up front.”

“Yep. I’ve had that problem before, and it wasn’t pretty. I guess so many people fail to pay them they want their money now.”

“I guess. But, what’s the purpose of having insurance if you can’t use it.”

“Are we still having the 4th of July get together?” Dad asked.

“Of course, I can still eat. I mean. I just have to be careful.”

“Oh! So. your tooth is still in place?”

“Yes. But I can’t bite directly on it. It may shift or come out.”

“I see.” Dad said. “Ok, we’ll see you soon.”

The following week the procedure was done by the second periodontist for two thousand dollars less. However, they had a similar policy and I finally got my permanent tooth early December, last year. It was a process and I had to wear a flipper for about two months.

by K.E. Mullins

K.E. Mullins is retired from the Navy and currently works as a Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) Instructor in Gainesville, Florida. She graduated from National University with a MBA in Finance and University of Central Florida with a Major in Marketing. Ms. Mullins is a Jacksonville, Florida native and has enjoyed reading and writing since her early childhood. She began her writing career while in the Navy by venturing into poetry.

Her first poetry piece, “My One Last Cent,” was published in a literary journal, “Amistad” in 2007 at Howard University. Currently, Ms. Mullins has self-published a book of poetry, “Thinking Aloud: Dimensions of free-verse” and her fiction novels, “The Friends and Family Connection: Get Unplugged” and “In the Company of Strangers (TEAM ICE)”, and “Murder: Another Name for Revenge”, the last book in her series all are available for purchase on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.

She was chosen this summer to be one of eight participants in Lip Service true stories sponsored by Miami Book Fair with the theme, “Cravings with Consequences” in front of a live audience. In addition to writing poetry, Kimberley has done spoken word venues in Urban Grind, Atlanta, GA, Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., and the Thomas Center, Gainesville, FL.


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