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DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing the same dentist for more than 20 years and have been very satisfied. During an earlier checkup, I had been told I had a loose tooth, "but it could tighten up again." I checked the tooth the morning of my most recent visit, and it was fine.

After cleaning my teeth, the hygienist, "Sue," was polishing my teeth when the tool slipped and the metal part hit the "loose" tooth really hard. Sue said, "Oh, sorry!"

When "Dr. Smith" came in for the final check, he said I had a cracked tooth. It was the same tooth. I had not seen a crack that morning, but thought I'd check it again when I got home. There is a big crack across the front of the tooth. If it had been there that morning, I'd have seen it.

I am sure the "hit" cracked the tooth. Only Sue and I know for sure, and I wouldn't know if it hadn't been for the fact that I'd been watching it because it was loose.

Should I talk to Sue or to Dr. Smith or to both of them about this? Should I just get the tooth fixed and forget it? Or should I start hunting for a new dentist? -- DENTAL DILEMMA IN DENVER

DEAR DILEMMA: When Dr. Smith told you your tooth was cracked, you should have spoken up then and asked to see it while you were still in his office. However, because you did not, it's time to call Dr. Smith and tell him what you have told me. I am sure he will want to talk to his hygienist about what happened. (Actually, she should have already informed him.) If the cracked tooth was caused by his employee, it should be fixed without charge. And if it isn't, THEN you should start looking for another dentist.

DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother of a 1-year-old child. My son's father started using drugs during my pregnancy and still does. I left him when my son was only 3 months old. Our breakup was bitter. He calls my house and curses me out for no reason. I have never done anything wrong to him. He pays no child support because he doesn't work.

I think I need therapy. I don't think I'm emotionally strong enough to be in a relationship with anyone else, and I need to talk about what's going on with me. I blame myself for getting involved with my son's father. I thought he was a nice, trustworthy guy. How could I know that he'd choose drugs over taking care of his child? -- STRESSED-OUT SINGLE MOM, ALEXANDRIA, VA.

DEAR STRESSED-OUT: You are asking intelligent questions. That you are looking for answers before you become emotionally involved again is laudable.

You can find low-cost mental health services by contacting your county Department of Social Services or the Department of Mental Health. The number(s) should be listed in your telephone directory.

P.S. In the meantime, please be a little kinder to yourself and change your phone number. No rule of etiquette says you have to listen to the drug-fueled ravings of an addict.

DEAR ABBY: I know that a GED is equivalent to a high school degree; however, is it misleading to indicate -- on a resume, for example -- that you graduated from high school when you obtained a GED after the fact? -- WONDERING IN KEARNS, UTAH

DEAR WONDERING: Not only is it misleading, it would be a mistake. Many businesses these days do background checks on job applicants, and when it turns out that an applicant lied on his or her resume, they are rejected. Honesty is the best policy.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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