I have a sweet tooth. My biggest dietary issue is my addiction to sugar, and if it’s anywhere in my environment it won’t last long before it’s in my belly. But the last piece of candy I ate ended up being the most expensive I’ve ever purchased and has made me rethink what I put in my mouth.

Recent tree pollen has left me a coughing mess these past few weeks. Normally I don’t suffer from allergies, but this year nature has sought revenge on my throat and I’ve had a constant intake of hot tea, cough drops, and gum to try and curb my colleague’s concerns about what I’m spreading around the office.

In one of our conference rooms, there are bowls of hard candy, mainly peppermints. During one meeting I didn’t have my normal go-to’s and found I needed to grab a peppermint so as not to continue my annoying hacking calls in such an intimate environment. Surprisingly I found they worked better than cough drops, and seemed to last longer too. They also tasted better, so I began to grab handfuls throughout the day and sucked on them as needed.

When I was little, I had a bad habit of chewing ice. If I’m not paying attention, I do the same now to hard candy instead of letting it dissolve on its own or throwing it out. That habit reemerged with the peppermints, as I chowed down on them at my desk. Then I felt something hard between my teeth that didn’t have the give of the candy. Oh shit, I thought. I pulled out the sliver and honestly couldn’t tell if it was part of my tooth as I had feared, or a white part of the candy. Not to take any chances, I called my dentist’s office to have them take a look.

Of all the teeth in my mouth, that peppermint knocked out a portion of a tooth that had an inlay, which meant the inlay had to come out, the tooth re-drilled, and a new inlay created. What I hoped was a quick 5 minute check to find nothing turned into a 2-hour procedure with a half-numb face.

Did I mention inlays aren’t covered under insurance? I guess they think it’s cosmetic not to have a massive hole in your tooth. So when all was said and done, that piece of candy cost me $1,400.

I’m sure I’m not unique in realizing things you’ve gotten away with your whole life start catching up to you in middle age, like the chewing and sugar intake. Reexamining your habits becomes a common exercise the older you get, and I’ve begun to rethink other tooth abusers like ice, nuts, and stickier candy.

I still have my cough for awhile longer thanks to Atlanta’s Spring air, but those peppermints have stayed in their bowls at work. I’d like to keep my teeth, and my bank account, in better shape moving forward.

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