Dear Margo: Incisors and Indecision

Should I tactfully tell my man to get his teeth fixed? Margo Howard’s advice …

Incisors and Indecision

Dear Margo: I recently met a man who is very interested in me. Based on what I have learned from a mutual acquaintance, he possesses a lot of the qualities I would like in a significant other. Some of these qualities are hard to come by, and I should know — I’m 43 and have never been married.

While I am interested in getting to know him better, there is one deal breaker. I never thought I would be the type to let physical attractiveness dictate a relationship, as I am no skinny beauty queen myself. However, this man has serious dental problems. His front teeth are missing, and many of the remaining teeth show signs of decay. I noticed that his sister has missing teeth, as well, so the neglect may run in the family.

What I don’t understand is why he would continue to present himself to the world this way. He has a good job, and I am almost certain he has dental insurance. I don’t know whether he has a phobia about going to the dentist. As much as I hate to say it, I would be embarrassed to be seen in public with him. Here’s my question: Is there a constructive way to encourage him to get much-needed dental work? I really could see us together, but can’t get past the condition of his mouth. — Perhaps They Are Afraid of Dentists?

Dear Per: At the beginning of your letter, I was prepared to tell you that wonderful qualities trump looks. But as I read further, I realized that I, myself, could not strike up the band with a man with no teeth in front and the remaining ones clearly decayed.

I would say some version of the following: “I think you and I could be great and close friends, but I must tell you that, for the sake of your health, you must get new teeth where there are none and see to the ones that are on their way out. I suspect you and your sister have a fear of dentists, but there are now both dentists and sedatives to deal with this problem. If you and I are to go forward, you must bite the bullet and see a dentist.” Well, maybe leave out “bite the bullet” given the situation you describe. Good luck. — Margo, reconstructively

Passive Aggressive Wind and Dust

Dear Margo: My wife and I are going through a difficult time right now. We have an ongoing issue that we can’t seem to resolve. I have asked her not to open the windows in the living room because the wind will bring dust into the house. Instead, I ask that she turn on the vents or air conditioning. She insists on the open windows because she wants to bring fresh air into the house. I feel I am being disrespected by her doing so. Am I wrong?

I’ve moved into the guest bedroom because I find our bedroom unlivable. She has things in boxes scattered all over the floor. When I ask her to please make the master bedroom more hospitable, she tells me that it is her room and she can keep it as she pleases. I believe that is why I have the right to insist that the living room windows remain closed. Please help me understand what to do here. — Victor

Dear Vic: Probably go to a couple’s counselor. There is more going on here than wind, dust and boxes on the bedroom floor. The fact that she has set it up so that you have vacated the master bedroom — and not done anything to get you back — suggests she is just as happy with you sleeping elsewhere. A woman who announces that the marital bedroom is “her room” sounds as though she would be just as happy single. There is a lot of indirect acting out here, so you might want to look into this and have your wife clarify her thinking about the marriage. — Margo, logically


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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73 comments so far.

  1. avatar Jo H says:

    After reading all the comments about the high cost of dental care in this country, it is easy to see why there is “dental tourism” these days. There are lots of high quality dentists in other countries. 

    A friend of mine from India had his wisdom teeth pulled here, and after he saw how much it was, he wished he had booked a roundtrip ticket to India to visit his family and have them pulled. He would’ve actually saved money doing that!

  2. avatar Lindsey M says:

    Teeth guy — I’d definitely ask him what is up with his teeth.  Perhaps it is some rare genetic thing or a disease, but the first things that popped into my mind were poor hygiene, can’t afford dental work (but since he has a good job, this seems less likely), some mental health issue or drug use (I think of meth users in particular as commonly missing teeth).
    Bad teeth are gross and need to be fixed if possible.  I understand it’s expensive or due to unfortunate circumstances not possible (either money or a rare condition), but most people are going to think of someone with really bad teeth as something seriously wrong — just like you’d think of someone that was continually not shaved, greasy/dirty hair, etc.
    This isn’t just a personal style decision, bad teeth most certainly will hold you back both socially and professionally as Margo pointed out.

  3. avatar Donna H says:

    Upbringing can have a lot to do with dental health as well.  I was raised by parents who had their teeth pulled & replaced by dentures while in their twenties. Both went through the depression & had barely enough for food, much less dental care.  Dad’s parents were farmers & lived far from any medical/dental care.
    I was taken to the dentist sporadically as a child.  My mother claimed that dental care was a waste of time & money.  She insisted that her teeth “went bad” during pregnancy, so bad that she had to have them pulled.  I was always taught that I’d loose my teeth when i got pregnant “It’s genetics”, & to a lesser extent, that dental care was a waste of time & money, since dentures were a lot less trouble to care for.
    I started to go to the dentist regularly as an adult, because my employer provided dental insurance.  By then, many of my teeth were too bad to be saved.  I wear an upper partial (& would wear a lower if i hadn’t lost it), & while I’m trying to save what I have left, my dentist doesn’t seem hopeful.
    Both of my brothers have lost teeth.  My sister spends a lot on crowns, etc. much of it contributed by her boyfriend to keep her from bugging him to leave his wife.  She is the only one of us who has a nice smile.

  4. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    My late mother not only didn’t like to open the windows for the same reason as LW#2, she also pinned the curtains and drape shut after she painstakingly aligned every pleat so that her drapes would always hang perfectly. It was the only part of her marriage, home, and self that she took take of with such devotion.

  5. avatar MsPixx says:

    Too much dust? Where do they live, a desert? I’m all for air-conditioning, but it’s completely unreasonable (and expensive!) to *only* use air conditioning and never crack a window. Houses get stuffy without fresh air.
    Anyway, what I really wanted to comment upon was this line: “A woman who announces that the marital bedroom is ‘her room’ sounds as though she would be just as happy single.” Clearly this couple has problems, but I don’t think not sharing a room well is one of them. My fiance and I have an incredibly strong relationship and a very healthy sex life. However, we do not share a bedroom and are not planning to ever do so. He is a mess-and-cluttered-bedroom person and I am a neat freak. He is always very hot and I am always quite cold. He gets so warm at night that he can’t stand to have anyone touching him, which means that he constantly wakes me up to ask me to give him more space. We don’t get a good night’s sleep and frankly we each value our privacy and value having our own space.
    I just want to dispel this myth that if a couple isn’t sleeping together, they must have some kind of marriage issue. A relationship with two strong-headed people can actually BENEFIT from separate bedrooms. Sometimes it’s a cure, not the symptom of a disease.