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.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

73 Responses so far.

  1. avatar kermie says:

    The condition of one’s teeth has a lot to do with one’s overall physical health, digestion and heart health.  By showing you care in this area, you show you care about the other’s longevity and quality of life.  If the guy drops you for caring, at least you tried–and he has a serious problem he is unwilling to face.

  2. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  I would have a hard time being as direct with the gentleman as Margo suggests, but at some point, someone should be so.  I’m surprised that his employer hasn’t said something directly or indirectly.  This is not really a question of appearance, but as an earlier commenter pointed out, a question of health.  I too have dental phobia and have learned that laughing gas is a wonderful thing.  

    LW#2:  The letter doesn’t say how long you have been married.  I like fresh air myself when the weather allows (I’ve been known to crack a window when its snowing outside).   As for the boxes on the bedroom floor , perhaps your wife is depressed and just cannot seem to find the energy to deal with unpacking and storing the things or perhaps there is no room to store it.  Have you considered offering to help her put the things away?  Or maybe she is exhibiting early hoarder tendencies .   As for the dust…do you live in a dustbowl area or a desert because I have never noticed dust accumulating significantly faster with the windows open.   And of course, you can always get out a duster yourself.  Whatever the issues (she is a terrible slob or you are an obsessive neatnk), Margo’s advice is good.   Sounds like you both need to give a little and for some reason you both are stubbornly refusing to accommodate the other.  

  3. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    Bad teeth is a definite deal breaker for me.  I get nauseous thinking about it.

  4. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Completely understandable. In college a nice older man named George was interested in me. He was otherwise nice looking, well groomed, very kind and etc…but his teeth were in BAD shape. Probably all needed to be pulled, and replaced with dentures. He seemed in willful denial and I…just couldn’t. Left off before it’d come to the point of even wanting to kiss my cheek.

  5. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #2: Couldn’t agree more with Margo. The master bedroom is *HERS*?? Enormous red flag. You need to get this situation (and everything underlying) ironed out pronto.

  6. avatar Sarah Trachsel says:

    LW2 Maybe she is just as happy single because she has a controlling husband who keeps score with the housekeeping (you get the bedroom so I get the windows – really?!) and moves himself out of the master bedroom in a power play to get her to put things away.  Can the man not unpack a box and put things away himself?  Or stack the boxes neatly in a corner?  And what is this “right to insist” business?
    Whether or not she “set it up” remains to be seen, but it became “her room” when he moved himself out of it.
    Do they need counseling?  Absolutely.  But I’m disappointed that your response, Margo, seems to lay the blame solely with the wife.  If he is the controlling manipulator he seems to be, you just played right into his game.

    • avatar Sianne S says:

      Well, maybe the blame DOES lie solely with the wife?  Not ALL men are controlling manipulators that you seem to see them as.  He’s the one writing in for advice, not her.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      We all see what we want to, I suppose.  Why do you suppose that it was a power play to move out?  Maybe the bedroom did not have enough space because there were boxes everywhere.  Maybe the husband does not feel comfortable unpacking her stuff because the wife would get upset.  In fact, I believe that husband did say that the boxes are scattered all over the floor.  You are making alot of assumptions that are unsupportable.  I am disappointed in your response and recommend that you read the letter more closely before making things up. 

      • avatar Sarah Trachsel says:

        I don’t see all men as controlling manipulators, or even most.  My husband certainly is not, but my father is and I see certain…similarities in the approach.  I think his use of the word “insist” is very telling, as is his need to keep score.  And something seems a little off in the tone of the letter, this could be my dad and his “poor bewildered reasonable me” routine.
        I find it a little ridiculous that you are trying to justify his leaving the bedroom.  Do you really think moving into the guest room is LESS upsetting to his wife and the stability of their relationship than upsetting his wife by moving a couple boxes around?  He does say there are boxes all over the floor, but doesn’t say anything about stuff piled on the furniture or being stacked to the ceiling, and it is not logical to assume that he would gloss over the true state of things when he is obviously looking for validation.  A few, or even a bunch, of boxes scattered on the floor is not a good enough reason to move, unless he himself has some serious underlying issues and a need to control his environment, if not his wife.
        It’s funny to me that you would accuse me of “making things up,” because people with these personalities do their best to make those who see them as they really are seem crazy and unreasonable.  Laughing Out Loud.  Seriously.
        Am I biased?  Maybe.  But apparently so are you.  Hopefully you never have to deal with my version.

        • avatar Leajmom says:

          Sarah, I think you provided some needed insight to the other side of the issue that was not touched on in the original (probably just because the husband was the one who wrote in).  The “maybe” anecdotes are just hair splitting.  Insist?  Really?

  7. avatar R Scott says:

    “Well, maybe leave out “bite the bullet” given the situation you describe. Good luck.”  I just snorted coffee out my nose on that one!  Priceless.

  8. avatar StepD says:

    I too have a dental phobia and had not gone to a dentist in 20 years, but that just made me very agressive in taking care of my teeth myself. When I finally did find a dentist that I could go to without too much fear, I only had one cavity. To allow this to happen to your teeth when brushing and mouthwash would usually help a lot suggests that something else is going on mentally, something that could give you pause beyond the obvious gross out factor. Just a thought.

    • avatar Lisa S. says:

      Wow, another person who hates the dentist who realizes that fastidious dental care at home keeps the DDS out of my mouth! I even told my DDS this after he started the exam and comment “Someone likes to brush these teeth!” 10 years, one broken veneer and one crack in a tooth. Both fixed with laughing gas on board and 1 shot of Novocaine. I’m in love with laughing gas now!

    • avatar Jo H says:

      What a relief! Someone else with dental phobia! I haven’t been in 10 years, and I am fastidious about taking care of them–including eating lots of healthy, nutrient dense foods. Most people are shocked and lecture me when they hear I’ve waited so long.

  9. avatar StepD says:

    LW#2 – She is disrespecting you by opening the windows and letting air in the house? Counseling is definitely a good suggestion because there seems to be some sort of power struggle that goes deeper than a few boxes or open windows. If I wanted to be with my husband and he had things scattered all over, I would simply move and stack them, not move into another room. Now that you have moved, it seems you have thrown down a challenge to her and find yourself on the losing end as she hasn’t changed to get you back in the bedroom. A mediator may be just what is needed to get to the real issue.

  10. avatar Phillip Koons says:

    LW1: Since you mentioned his sister having the same condition, perhaps there is a genetic issue?  Genetics play a surprisingly large part in dental health (his missing teeth could be a result of a genetic defect although the front ones would be rare).  Unfortunately, my family has a history of bad dental health.  Very weak or even missing enamel in some cases makes us very susceptible to decay.  While I tried to save my own teeth personally through work, regular dentist visits, etc, it was an uphill battle often spending thousands of dollars a year to end up repeating the process the next year.  Eventually, I ended up saying screw it and getting dentures after investing so much money because it simply became too much.  Haven’t regretted it at all.
    Not making an excuse for him but just saying that it may go beyond a lack of hygiene.

    • avatar Phillip Koons says:

      Oh yea……and I don’t view this any different than a man who doesn’t want to date big women or a woman who doesn’t like bald men.  It’s a bit shallow.

      • avatar Rapunzel says:

        Please explain to me why choosing to not date someone you find unattractive is shallow? Do you only date people you find physically repulsive?

    • avatar StepD says:

      But it seemed you worked on it before finally finding a solution. I wonder if the gentleman does as well or if he has just given up. Missing teeth aside, if I am going to kiss that mouth, I would have an issue with rotting teeth and/or diseased gums. I don’t think that’s any more shallow than not wanting to be around someone who doesn’t use deoderant. If however there is no hygiene issue and it is genetic, that would be different. Weird for me, but different.

      • avatar Phillip Koons says:

        Well the kissing I can understand.  I was extremely anal about using different products to try to help with both keeping my gums and mouth clean while also helping with any sort of smell.
        True…he may have given up as well.  If you really want to be with someone, then sure..say something about it but you may be playing with fire.  I can tell you that I was very self-conscious about it. Depending on the guy, may even be an option to buy him a gift certificate for a dentist (Back when I was trying so diligently to save my natural teeth, a friend gave me one for Xmas to help out).

    • avatar Diana Danh says:

      Unfortunately, drug and sugar addictions can also cause tooth decay and those can also “run in the family”.

      • avatar Phillip Koons says:

        I’m not sure whether you’re trying to be sarcastic or not, but do the research.  The strength of your teeth is largely due to genetics.

        • avatar Jo H says:

          One interesting thing I came across in the last year is the research of dentist Weston Price in the 1930s. What he discovered is that food is single biggest indicator in dental and overall physical health. He studied isolated indigenous groups around the world, and found that the diets they had evolved to eat over thousands of years gave them beautiful, strong teeth without cavities. People who had never used a toothbrush or visited a dentist. Let me tell you, that changed my entire perspective on teeth and health.

          • avatar Jo H says:

            PS–I guess I should’ve said that I’m not discounting genetics at all. But Price’s research is fascinating.

            Anyway, I am glad your dentures are working well for you, Phillip.

    • avatar D L says:

      I had mentioned below that my husband had this type of genetic problem. It ran in his family; his dad has it as well. In my husband’s case, he just never had enough money to get everything taken care of. Once we were married and both of us had more stable jobs, he used our dental insurance to get all his top teeth removed and got dentures. You’d never know it either.

    • avatar amberglassgirl says:

      Front teeth…not as rare as you might think. One of my dearest college friends was missing her four front upper teeth and had a bridge. When I met several of her older siblings one winter…all of them had the same type of bridgework. Had to be hereditary.

  11. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – Do you kiss?  The decaying teeth would have to smell terrible.  This goes beyond being shallow.   Holy cow.  If he lets his teeth go, what else does he let go?  And as someone else pointed out, it affects the intirety of one’s health.  I, too, also wonder about his mental acuity.
    Ltr. #2 – Insisting the windows be kept shut so as not to allow dust that the wind might blow in sounds anal-retentive and your wife insisting the master bedroom is “her” bedroom sounds as if she’s detached herself from the marriage.   Margo’s right, lotsa other stuff goin’ on here!

    • avatar Diane Shaw says:

      Oops! “entirety” of one’s health. 

    • avatar Phillip Koons says:

      No different than a person who lets their weight get out of control.  It affects their overall health but nobody questions the person’s mental acuity in that case.  How is this different?

      • avatar StepD says:

        If someone allows themselves to get obese that is different than someone allowing themselves to get morbidly obese. One is an extreme as in the case of LW#1. I would also wonder about the mental state of someone who allows themselves to get so obese that they cannot function as there are usually underlying emotional issues. Just my opinion.

        • avatar Phillip Koons says:

          *blink*  While I disagree with your accessment that it’s an extreme like being morbidly obese…he’s obviously still functioning fine.  I think it’s a serious stretch to be questioning mental acuity over it.

      • avatar Anne Talvaz says:

        Rotten teeth stink is how. They need not be a barrier to friendship, but the smell of corpse (that’s what it is – don’t ask me how I know) is a major sexual turnoff. The issue is not one of moral equivalence, just gut reaction.

        • avatar Phillip Koons says:

          Which I don’t have a problem with.  My issue is questioning his mental capacities as a result of it.
          Some people aren’t attracted to certain physical things.  I get that and understand completely.

          • avatar StepD says:

            I think that you are being sensitive because of your own experience that had nothing to do with hygiene and perhaps i am reading too much into it because of my own experiences. I knew someone that was perfectly fine in every way except when it came to dental hygiene. His father, a dentist died when he was eight and he felt it would be disresepctful to his memory for anyone else to work on his mouth.  It turns out it was mental/emotional for him. Neither one of us knows the truth unless we know the gentleman in question.

      • avatar Natalie King says:

        Your comment is offensive and uncalled for.  Why is it that people think that they can say whatever they want about another person’s weight?  It’s not anyone else’s business. Don’t tell me about how insurance rates go up, etc. etc. etc.  Hey you, with cancer, did you smoke?  You made my insurance rates go up.  Can I say anything I want to you about it?  Darn tootin I’d get myself in trouble.  Many people actually think it’s funny to make fun of people who are overweight. As they used to say on Saturday Night Live — “It’s so funny, I forgot to laugh.” 

    • avatar D L says:

      That’s the odd thing. LW#1 doesn’t say that this man’s mouth reeks. She just says the look of the missing teeth is a turn-off. If there was a smell associated with it, I would be more understanding to her dilemna.

  12. avatar D L says:

    LW#1 – you don’t understand is why he would continue to present himself to the world this way? Maybe b/c he’s comfortable with himself? You apparently aren’t. You also mention how you recently met this man. Excuse me but who are you to tell him to get dental work?

    While I understand (I suppose) why his appearance may make you wince, you have zero right to tell him what he should do in order to be more attractive to you. How would you like it if he told you that before he could even consider dating you that you would need to lose some weight b/c he can’t understand why you would continue to present yourself to the world that way?

    Side note: when I met my now-husband, he had the worst teeth due to a condition that ran in his family (his dad has it too). Cracked, chipped, falling out, you name it. While I did think it was odd, it didn’t stop me from getting to know him. He was and is a wonderful person and that overshadowed any physical flaw. Once we were serious, he confessed to me that he hated his teeth and just never had the money to get them fixed properly. He also mentioned how the fact that I was able to overlook this “flaw” made him fall in love with me all the more…

    • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

      That’s the boat I’m currently in.  My family has a not-so-great gene pool when it comes to dental health and on top of it I have serious sinus issues; to the point that I throw up because of mucus build up while I sleep.  No medications helped, even surgery only temporarily gave relief.  It’s gotten better over the years and now it’s a once a week (at most) issue.  The problem is that when I was a teenager and it first started really flaring up I was throwing up daily, sometimes more than once a day.
      All the brushing and flossing in the world couldn’t stop the ravages of all that stomach acid coupled with crappy genes.  I’ve had quite a few teeth pulled already and will likely end up with dentures because there’s no way I could afford implants or anything else.  Heck, I couldn’t even afford dentures right now.  I’m only 28 and it eats me up daily that my teeth are so hideous.  I had to teach myself to smile with my mouth closed and frankly, that alone makes it hard to WANT to smile.  Nothing like brushing your teeth and choking on the toothpaste because you’re bursting into tears.  I even had a dentist once ask me if I had an eating disorder because, according to him, I have the teeth of a long time bulimic that would take “heroic” dentistry to fix.
      My husband has a good job as well, but that doesn’t mean that the company offers dental insurance and out of pocket is astronomical to say the least.  LW#1 really shouldn’t assume that just because this guy has a good job that he has dental insurance.
      I just hope that someday I’ll be able to smile again with fixed up teeth.  Give yourself and your hubby a hug from me D L?  Reading your comment made me feel better after reading some of the comments and the letter itself.

  13. avatar Lisa S. says:

    LW#2, if he’s so worried about dust, does he insist on the use of a HEPA filter in the house? Unless you’re using a HEPA filter, you’re going to get dust regardless. You bring in dust when opening doors and windows, you create dust with your dead skin cells, lint from you clothes, hair and dander from your pets. You’re going to get dust in the house! The HEPA filter is the only way to combat dust. But if she’s going to open the windows then she’s going to moot the point of the HEPA filter anyway. I’d rather have the fresh air.

  14. avatar Margo Howard says:

    To everyone who thinks it’s just fine that this man has missing and rotting teeth: Call me shallow and looks obsessed, but it is NOT fine, because he can do something about it. To look like a bum will not advance his social life OR his work life.

    • avatar moonrevenge says:

      The dealbreaker for me is that some of his teeth are rotting. That takes it beyond a vanity issue and into a health one. I understand Phillip Koons point that it might be genetic but that isn’t an excuse to try to minimize the damage. Cancer runs in my family. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be lighting up cigarettes, eating a bunch of processed foods and laying beneath the August sun for 12 hour stretches. I’m still doing what I can to minimize the outcome, you know?

    • avatar Phillip Koons says:

      And I might agree with you if you didn’t comment yourself that you were willing to overlook other physical flaws when something can be done about them as well.
      I’m curious what your response would have been if the husband was writing in because the wife had put on pounds over the years.  Would you have encouraged him to tell her she needed to lose weight?

      • avatar D L says:


        My point to this too was that these 2 aren’t even in a relationship yet. She barely knows this man yet she’s already making demands on how he should look. That’s the problem.

    • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

      Spoken like someone who can afford dental work.
      He might have the OPTION to do something about it, but who’s going to bankroll it?  Just because someone has a decent job doesn’t mean that A) they have dental insurance or B) they can afford the out-of-pocket prices for dental work.  To have ONE tooth pulled with just novocaine cost me over $300 out-of-pocket because my husband’s decent job doesn’t offer dental and getting it on our own is out of our price range.  With the amount of issues she’s talking about it would be pretty steep.  Even dentures aren’t cheap when you factor in all the office visits for fittings, castings, any teeth that need removed prior to casting your dentures, and the cost of the dentures themselves.
      I won’t say you’re shallow, you’re entitled to be attracted to what you find attractive, but don’t assume that this guy looks “like a bum” because he’s too lazy or unconcerned to do anything about it.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        $300 for a tooth pulled sounds pretty reasonable to me, since you have no insurance.
        i was expecting a big number there.  you should be able to scrape up 300 bones to take care of your teeth.  they are IMPORTANT!

        • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

          Over $300 isn’t exactly a “scrape it together” expense for my family, but hey, thanks for assuming I could so easily afford it.  You should hook up with LW#1 and assume the day away.

        • avatar Lunita says:

          Really? Who are you to tell someone they “should be able to scrape up 300 bones” for their teeth without knowing their circumstances? Even if the cost is reasonable, that doesn’t mean she can afford it. And thank you for reminding how important teeth are, as though we didn’t already know.

          • avatar wendykh says:

            Fine call me shallow but I don’t want to go out with someone so financially messed up they can’t afford $300 for something as serious as dental care. You shouldn’t even be dating in that state. Get your life together then talk about merging.

  15. avatar C in Vegas says:

    OK, I don’t often comment on here, but I just have to with this one.
    I have the same issue…missing teeth, several more that need extensive work, some that are probably just lost, as well as advanced gum disease.
    I have, and have always had, really bad teeth.  It’s genetic, and that’s that.  No amount of brushing, rinsing, and flossing is going to change that.  It sure didn’t for me!  So don’t assume that because someone has bad teeth that they are lazy or just can’t be bothered with dental hygiene.  You don’t know.
    Unfortunately, I did not have dental insurance for many years.  During that time, very little professional care was done, since the cost was so prohibitive.  Call and price a root canal without insurance sometime, or even a cleaning or filling.
    So, today, I now have dental insurance, but the work needed is so extensive, the cost is still prohibitive.  I am trying to do as much as I can, but the prognosis is not good.  I have already had a bone graft done in one jaw, which took me 6 months to pay off – with insurance!  That’s just one procedure!  Lots more to go, but eventually it will be better.
    Keep this in mind when you say, “why would he present himself to the world like this”.  Maybe because he doesn’t feel that he should become a hermit just because he, for whatever reason, has bad teeth.  I’m not hiding because I had no access to the dental care I needed.  Neither should anyone else.

    • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

      Holy cow, you almost literally wrote the exact same comment I did further up.  I didn’t have dental care access either and still don’t.  I’m saving up for dentures because it’s going to end up being the only option left to me in all likelihood.  I had one dentist tell me that my teeth would take a heroic effort and a really great dentist to fix.  Talk about self-esteem killer, but like you, I refuse to shut myself up in my house because my smile isn’t bright.  You learn to smile in your own way, keep your head up, and only let it make you fall apart in private.
      It’s good to know that I’m not alone. *hugs*

      • avatar Jo H says:

        Few things feel worse than knowing you need to get some help for medical/dental problems, but find you don’t have the funds to make it happen. I wish you both the best.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      I used to be the same way and feel the same way. Then I found a competent dentist who got me OFF of toothpaste and brushing exclusively with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. In combination with a very deep cleaning requiring sedation and extremely dilligent hygeine after, including brushing and flossing several times a day, I have had no relapse for one year. My teeth no longer bleed, my gums are no longer inflamed, and my breath no longer smells. It cost me almost $2K to get there and I paid for half and dental insurance the rest. Worth Every Penny.

  16. avatar Maggie W says:

    Years ago, while getting my wisdom teeth pulled, the dentist would stop and ask if I was doing okay. Then he would proceed again, with a nervous assistant looking on. After that long ordeal was over, he told me my teeth shattered like glass. Like tiny pieces of glass, he had to slowly and carefully make certain nothing was left embedded in my inflamed gums. All of this took hours. After that, I had no intention of ever going near a dentist again. But I did because of ongoing dental problems with my “glass” teeth. I now have a mouth full of crowns, a bridge, and veneers on my front teeth. I have one very expensive mouth. I worked out a monthly payment with the dentist until I got dental insurance through my job. I also see my dentist twice a year for a thorough cleaning and xrays. I have nice straight , healthy teeth when I smile. I consider all of this to be one of the best investments I have ever made.
    I would not date a man missing teeth or with rotten teeth. The very thought is disgusting. If this guy has a good job, there is no reason not to take more pride in his appearance or be more concerned about his health. An infected tooth can cause a heart attack. As for being dental phobic, that laughing gas will put you in another world.
    As for LW#2… Time to wake up. You are another piece of furniture in your own home.   Like a piece of furniture, you are not welcome in ” her room”.   Time for a reality check when the bedroom is off limits. 

  17. avatar ScooterLady says:

    #2 I too have been married for almost 44 years to a man with multiple allergies [he gets more all the time].  Years ago he told me I couldn’t open the windows to air the house out because of all the dust/pollen/allergens that are in the air.  Because I love him and try to make life better for him, I don’t open windows.  For his wife to not consider his health and well being makes me doubt that she cares about him.  When you love someone and his health is involved, you do whatever you can to help him.  This couple definitely needs counseling, and if the issue can’t be resolved, he needs to get out of the marriage and look out for himself.

    • avatar Sarah Trachsel says:

      He didn’t say anything about allergies.  That’s kind of a big thing to leave out.  He’s not concerned about getting sick, he’s worried about being disrespected.

      • avatar MsPixx says:

        And it seems really bizarre that he feels disrespected. Why? Because she disobeyed his orders? They clearly disagree on this issue, but he seems to view the problem as his wife isn’t doing as she’s told, not that two partners disagree how to handle a situation. It points to a controlling husband, if you ask me.

  18. avatar Sarah Dinges says:

    LW1: Look, I get that it may not be totally appropriate for her to demand he fix his teeth, but if the choice here is to either bring it up, or just end it, I would bring it up.
    I would say “Hey, what’s the deal with your teeth?” and after I heard his reply, I would tell him that whether we continue dating or we remain friends, I will be happy to come to the dentist as moral support and a taxi ride so that he can get the issue addressed.
    There’s no point in beating around the bush on this one – he may dismiss the lady as shallow, but he should be made aware that it’s a problem that will probably halt the relationship.

  19. avatar Sianne S says:

    LW1: Wow, first time I’ve been genuinely turned off by your reply, Margo.  It is in no way this woman’s business to demand he get dental work.  She just met him!  And to suggest to his face that he has dental phobia is not only condescending, it’s patronizing.  It’s like telling a little kid to stop crying because the doctor is going to give him a shot and it’s “for his own good”.  If someone I just met told me to do something or he/she wouldn’t date me, I’d consider them not relationship material.  Perhaps this man has bad genetics, like Phillip said.  She is “reasonably certain” that he has dental insurance.  What if he doesn’t?  Having a crown put on can cost upwards of 1800 dollars.  (I know this, I had to pay out of pocket for mine.  I am a teacher, a “good job” and no, I don’t have dental insurance either)  Getting one pulled will run 700-900, and dentures cost well over 2k a pop, unless you go cheap-o.  And for something as important as your teeth, I wouldn’t.  If at 43 she’s never been married because she hasn’t found anyone that lives up to her standards, I’d say the standards are too high.
    To fill in a little bit of the hole I just dug, or perhaps to dig it deeper, I wouldn’t want him kissing me either, though.  I would simply ASK him if he’s ever considered dental work, then take his answer as a cue on where to go next with the relationship.

  20. avatar Gerry Schwartz says:

    LW1:  He’s obviously an anti-dentite.

  21. avatar Linda Myers says:

    I think his lack of interest in his teeth/appearance regardless of all else would be the social part of himself he is out of tune with. Could be a brilliant person in there who just finds his appearance in life irrelevant, something I would not want to get pulled into even if he got the teeth fixed. How he cares about himself on some level is an indicator of how he would care for somebody else. At his age, chances are he has heard what he should do and has chose not too. Keep on walking!

  22. avatar chuck alien says:

    wow, that first paragraph of the first letter told me all i needed to know about why she has never married.
    she starts with “interested in me” as the number 1 benefit, then moves on to her hypothetical laundry list of “qualities” that she requires.
    cold, calculating, narcissistic, and without a clue about relationships… that’s a lot going on.  again, NOT AT ALL SURPRISED she is not married.
    teeth are important. she has a good point.  but that guy needs to 1) get his teeth fixed and 2) stay away from this harpy.

  23. avatar Anne Whitacre says:

    I knew a guy here in town (very busy, ran a professional firm) and he literally died from not having dental work.  He was always “too busy” but a dental infection can very often travel to the heart or other more “critical” part of your body and end up killing you.  Apart from the visual aspect of bad teeth, its one of those parts of the body where the outside (the rest of the world) comes in contact with the bloodstream and that can greatly influence health.
    if she really likes the guy, and he likes her enough to stretch himself a little bit, she may end up with a gem at the end.  (and like many of the other writers, I have soft enamel and soft teeth and have spent a fortune on crowns and veneers to correct them.  I could have easily bought a very nice car.)

  24. avatar Rapunzel says:

    Regarding LW#1. People are making a lot of assumptions about why this man’s teeth are in such a bad state yet no-one mentioned the possibility that he simply does not have good dental hygiene. The fact that his sister also has rotten teeth could simply be an indication that they were not taught by their parents to brush and floss. My mother told me that when she met my dad he had poor dental hygiene, he was simply not taught to care for his teeth, mom quickly changed that situation and at 76 dad still has most of his teeth.

    I have two friends with rotten and missing teeth and both of them are entirely responsible for the grotesque state of their mouths. Several years ago one of them came into some money and had his teeth fixed but it took only a few short years of not brushing and flossing for his teeth to return to their disgusting state of decay.

    Another friend lost many of his teeth and had to have the rest pulled and fake teeth implanted, for him this was devastating and the damage was caused by a rare disease. It really bothered him that others around him allowed their teeth to rot away due to negligence when he would have given anything to have kept his own teeth. He lives below the poverty line because he is unable to work yet he managed to find a dentist who was willing to help him by reducing the cost of treatment and allowing him to pay small amounts monthly.

  25. avatar LandofLove says:

    If the guy in letter 1 lives anywhere near a university’s dental school, he could investigate the possibility of getting free or lower-cost treatment by joining a study or being treated by students under the guidance of dental professors.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.