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Auntie SparkNotes: How Can I Tell My Boyfriend About My Fake Teeth?

Auntie SparkNotes: How Can I Tell My Boyfriend About My Fake Teeth?

Hey Auntie!

Bear with me here; this is going to get original & interesting. I promise.

I'm 17 and a very confident person. I just have one big insecurity: Congenitally missing upper lateral incisors. (Please feel free to do a quick google search.)

I've been through all kinds of orthodontic work, and now my teeth are all pretty and nice and stuff. Yay me! The treatment plan my parents, orthodontist, and I have chosen is for me to eventually get dental implants (which should actually be happening within the next few years). In the meantime, I have a removable retainer (the plastic, roof-of-your-mouth kind) with false teeth attached to it, which I wear all the time. (Other people get to take their retainers out. If I did that, I wouldn't have those teeth.). By looking at me, one would *never* be able to tell I had fake teeth or even that I was wearing a retainer.

Now, here comes the issue: No one can tell by *looking at me*. With kissing though -- specifically with tongue action -- *they're gonna know*.

The whole missing/fake teeth thing is kind of a sensitive issue for me. I don't really know why; it really shouldn't be, but it is. In the past I've received mixed reactions to my missing teeth from various people who've known about it. Some people are like, "Ew. Gross. Don't ever take your retainer out ever." Some are grossed out by the fact that I have to wear a retainer at all, and some people simply don't care. Those people are my favorites.

Well, I have a guy now. In the past I've gotten with other guys, but most of them were flings that I didn't expect to go anywhere, and I wasn't really worried what they'd think. But this guy... I kind of care. (He's really a nice guy, and he's crazy about me, and I think -- OHGODIHOPE -- he won't be put off by it.)

I guess what I'm looking for here is just some general advice. I'm not comfortable with taking my retainer out during kissing (as many other normal retainer-wearers would). It's been suggested that I just not kiss with tongue, but, quite frankly, that's not something I'm willing to give up. Should I tell him I wear a retainer before he just kind of finds out? How? Should I say it's a permanent retainer and that doesn't come out (because *it's not coming out.*)? Should I just not say anything and let him just find out? What if he asks about it after? What should I say? And -- perhaps most importantly -- how can I remain confident? How am I going to be able to kiss him while internally I'm freaking out wondering what his opinions of my mouth gear are?

We’ll get to all that in just a sec, Sparkler... but before we go any further, I’ve gotta tell you: I did, in fact, google “congenitally missing upper lateral incisors.” And then I googled treatments, retainers, implants, and any number of other terms related to your condition, and then I read some articles by orthodontists, and then I looked at pictures of partial upper dentures. And in doing this, I reached two conclusions:

1. I never, ever want to see the inside of another person’s mouth again for as long as I live.
2. Unless I’m missing something, I cannot for the life of me figure out how anyone kissing your mouth would notice that something was different. Do you actually expect that this guy is going to cram his tongue back behind your teeth and onto your upper palate? And if so, how? Are you dating a lizard? SERIOUSLY I AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THIS.

But the part where he very well may not even notice your orthodonture is just to put your mind at ease—because the answer to all those other questions is this:

Your mouth, your body, your call.

So really, you can tell him whatever you want! You can tell him that you wear a retainer, but not mention what it’s for. You can warn him in vague terms that you’ve had dental work and that he might notice something when you kiss. You can tell him you have an orthodontic implant that doesn’t come out (without ever mentioning the part where it doesn’t come out by choice). Hell, you can tell him that your teeth were kidnapped by alien pirate bounty hunters and that they installed a tracking device on the roof of your mouth to monitor your activities.

Or, of course, you can just tell him the truth: that you’re missing a couple teeth, you have a cosmetic retainer, and you’ll be keeping it in at all times—including during makeouts—because you want to. Because the best way to enjoy kissing this guy without freaking out over what he thinks of your mouth gear? Is to find out what he thinks of your mouth gear so you can quit freaking out and enjoy kissing.

Which brings us to this: this whole scenario, original and interesting as it is, still boils down to the very unoriginal fact that a person who has a problem with your body—whether you’ve got missing teeth, no legs, or a mysterious superfluous bellybutton on your hindquarters—is a person you do not want to date.

And that’s why, really, I hope you’ll just skip the subterfuge and tell him whatever version of the truth you’re most comfortable with. A minor (or major!) physical idiosyncrasy is nothing to be ashamed of—and if someone acts otherwise, then shame on them. And when it comes to your confidence, the single best way to keep it blazing on is to remember that whatever your physical differences, there’s nothing (NOTHING!) wrong with you.

...Well, except for the part where you're dating a lizard who french kisses like he's hunting for buried treasure. That's just weird.

Have you ever confided in your boy/girlfriend about a body issue? How did it go? Tell your story in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email

Related post: Oops Your Way to a First Kiss

Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, boyfriends, teeth, body issues

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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