Tuesday, December 02, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is My 14 Bottom Teeth



I've written about my teeth before. It was the War & Peace of dental literature. If you have a few days to kill, here is the story of my plastic uppers. If you don't have a few days to kill, here's the shortened version of that story.

I had horrible teeth. Crooked, buck, discolored, pitted, ridged, snaggled - whatever adjectives connote ugly and dysfunctional - you could put it in front of "teeth" and pretty much have a valid description of my old choppers.


Then, I got implants. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I was thrilled, and am thrilled, with what my dentists did. I now have a wonderful set of uppers and I'm unafraid to smile in mixed company.


The lowers, however...

The thing is, implants are amazingly expensive. I was barely able to afford the uppers seven years ago. At that time, I knew I'd need to have the lowers done at some point in the future, but I figured I'd do it when I became fabulously wealthy. I always expect that fabulous wealth is just a year or so away for me, so I put my lower teeth out of my thoughts and went about my life.

A few months ago, I made myself a cheese sandwich as a snack at 3 o'clock in the morning. Now, no scolding for eating cheese sandwiches in the middle of the night, please. We all have our peccadilloes, and I should have eaten one of them, instead, because when I bit into the cheese sandwich, I felt this sharp pain. One of my lower teeth had been loosened. By a damned cheese sandwich.

I hoped for the best. I tried not to wiggle the tooth any more than was necessary for my morbid curiosity. I assiduously avoided eating peanut brittle, corn on the cob, and rocks. I was told by some folks that teeth will sometimes re-attach themselves more firmly. I wanted to believe that. However, such has not been the case. That tooth became progressively looser and looser. Finally, during the past two weeks, it became obvious - even to an idiot like me - that it was way too loose to ever have a chance at being saved.

For the past two weeks, I've used only my back teeth for every act of biting and chewing. This has been awkward at times. It is nearly impossible to eat a turkey sandwich using only your back teeth, but I accomplished the feat. Finally, when I found myself cutting every bit of food on my plate into small chunks that needed no chewing at all, I knew that the time had come to call Dr. D'Amico.

Dr. D'Amico is a very nice man, and a tremendous dentist. The work he did on my uppers was superb; done with as little pain as was humanly possible and with an extremely caring manner. There was no rational reason for my not having visited him at some time during the previous seven years. Now, having to drag my sorry ass into his chair, with my head hung low, making lame excuses as to why I haven't so much as said 'Hello!' to him since 2001...

I made the appointment for this morning, Tuesday, at 8:45am.

He saw me, and said, "Well! How are you? When I saw your name on the appointment sheet, I said to myself, 'Huh! I thought he died or something!'"

Funny guy.

When he peered into my mouth, he got a more serious look on his face. I showed him which tooth was loose. He said that it certainly had to come out, and I said that I knew that. I asked him what could be done in the meantime to fill the gap temporarily. He sort of shook his head and said, "Well, after the extraction, I'll trim down the root and we can bond it VERY TEMPORARILY to the two teeth on either side of it. But it could pop out at any time, so you'll have to be careful with it."

That was about the best I could hope for, so I told him to go ahead. He did. The tooth came out, very easily. He trimmed it, polished the two teeth on either side a bit, applied some bonding agent, fit the tooth back in, and here I am writing about it. Because of the ridiculous amount of bonding material he needed to apply to make this jury-rigged job work, it looks as though I have some bread between my teeth that I failed to clean out after my last meal. Oh, well. I can eat more-or-less regularly again, so that's the important thing. My uppers still look swell.

The thing is, my remaining lowers are shot to hell, mostly. We'll discuss options when I return for a cleaning and an evaluation a week from Thursday. I expect I'll be able to get by with a removable denture, anchored to those teeth that can be saved. Then, sometime in the future when I'm fabulously wealthy - which I still fully expect, for no good reason - I'll have full implants done on the lower jaw.

Hell of a past couple of months. Jury duty, lasting eight days and costing me a week of next year's vacation time. Car accident, costing me days without my car and many hours of aggravation. Now, a lost tooth, along with the prospect of much future dental work.

You know what? I don't want to come off as Pollyanna reincarnated, but it's OK. It's all good. Everything always works out all right. I wasn't the one on trial; I didn't get hurt in the accident; and I've got a great dentist. Things could be worse, that's for sure.

If nothing else, it certainly gives me stuff to write about.



Soon, with more better teeth.


19 comments:

Karen said...

I can relate, having gone through thousands (and thousands!) of dollars to have all my uppers capped. My lowers look like crap but are in good shape once I realized that daily flossing is *essential*. Why I didn't realize that in my 20's is beyond me.

Jenn said...

Yeah, stay away from those rocks. Really, no nutritional value anyway.

Moannie said...

Can't afford transplants, Suldog. Had I been younger I would have robbed a bank to get 'em. however I have vowed never to have dentures and my few remaining teeth are capped, bridged and cemented so that it appears that I have a full set of teeth. Check up today and my Greek god of a dentist made me feel like the class favourite.

You are quite a goodlooking fella..

mlh said...

A dentist with a sense of humor! Nice. Better than having one in a bad mood with use of a dentist drill.

Chuck said...

I've had one crown and a couple partial overlays done, but never needed anything majorly serious. My father had bad teeth but he finally just went with dentures when he got older. I think he could have done implants but he didn't want to spend the $$$. I think they look great on you, though.

tshsmom said...

Removable teeth really aren't so bad. I got mine 8 yrs ago and never regretted it. I can now bite and chew pain free!

Heidi said...

I've got crappy teeth, too, actually. I love my periodontist, though, and he has helped save all my teeth thus far! (Love your attitude and I plan to adopt it!)

Also... LOVED reading about your grandmother in the previous post! She's sound like a winner!

And, to let you know about my aversion to The Grinch... I was always scared of him when I was younger... have not watched since I was, oh... since I was proabbly 5 years old!

Happy Chistmas Time!

lime said...

eeesh, done in by a cheese sandwich. how frustrating. that said you've got a great attitude about the last couple of months in general and by the sounds of it, a terrific dentist. you've also got a wonderful smile, which is always nice to see.

Ericka said...

eek. my cousin just had all her teeth extracted 'cause she was sick of fooling with them.

i'm lucky - i always feel like a horse when i visit my dentist - he tells me what good teeth i have and pats me on the head.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I had a grilled cheese yesterday, but thank God, no tooth problems from it. Bad or good teeth come with the DNA, sad to say. My chiuaua teeth have a double set of nerves running through them AND I'm anesthesia resistant. Can you spell dental trauma? Oh, and the discoloration. Gark! Did you have to take shell iron as an infant too? People with good, straight, white teeth do not know how blessed they are. I'll be going to see my dentist on the 18th. eww

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Whoa, very interesting post and something l was talking about yesterday..the fact that the brits teeth arent 'enhanced', just filled or capped...
the newsreaders here, on local stations, all l can look at is their teeth..crooked and well frankly l would feel bad if it were me...but hey..mrs hypercritical, l have gappy teeth!

my son is getting his braces off on 18th, after 2.5 yrs..he had a huge under bite, masticating his food against the of his mouth in fact his bottom teeth hit the back of his front two teeth...

now they are straightened his jaw lower has come forward and l'm so excited, he tells me l'm more so than he is...thats a mum for you! ... teeth love em or hate you gotta have em...

Suldog said...

Karen - That's a lesson I never really learned, unfortunately, and that's why I am where I am today.

Jenn - But they're so tasty!

Moannie - I'm afraid you need to see the optometrist, as well.

MLH - Is it safe? *WHRRRRRRRRRRRR* Is it safe?

Chuck - A crown? What country were you king of?

TSHSMOM - Nothing compares to having pain and then NOT having pain, especially in the mouth. It is the most blessed feeling in the world, to be rid of pain.

Heidi - The Grinch had particularly bad teeth, and I think that was part of the reason for his meanness.

Lime - Thanks. Yes, I got quite a few compliments on my smile after having the procedure, and I smiled even more whenever I got one of them.

Ericka - That's funny! Good thing he doesn't think you're a cat.

(I don't know exactly what that means, but there are many good ribald possibilities, so you can choose what you like.)

Angie - Funny. When my adult teeth started coming in, I told my dentist that I didn't like the color. He said something about it meaning I had lots of iron in my blood. I always thought he was just trying to make me feel better. Now that I read your comment, I see that perhaps he wasn't just sparing my feelings.

FF&F - Ah, the famed British teeth! I have a fair amount of UK blood in me, as well as the Irish, so that's probably part of it.

Janet said...

My adult teeth came in yellow too. Sometimes genetics can bit you in the . . . mouth. However, despite the color they're in excellent shape (I've had Ericka's experience at the dentist), so the only excuse I could have for caps is sheer vanity. And being unemployed I can't indulge in vanity at the moment. However, your dentist is excellent and if I win the lottery I'm coming up there.

Joe said...

I need to go to the dentist. :( Better schedule an appointment.

Hilary said...

From what I understand, certain antibiotics taken during the pregnancy can yellow the offspring's permanent teeth too.

I'm glad you're no longer hurting. A dentist with a sense of humour is calming, but also frustrating when you best comebacks sound like garbled nonsense because his/her hand is in your mouth.

Cosmetic Dentistry said...

The dental caps made a big improvement in your smile. Although expensive, dental caps are good to restore our teeth. I had mine with dental caps too.

Woman in a Window said...

Yer brave to post that before. I'm just saying that you look amazing after. The difference of teeth, eh? Startling.

And the rocks, you're always fun!

CrazyCath said...

Ouch Jim I sure hope those teeth get sorted for you. Nothing worse than toothache or tooth pain.

Brave to post that first photo. Dentist did a great job.

Chris Stone said...

sorry to hear about the tooth problems! i only see my dentist when in pain myself. i love the guy, but not the bill!

so i missed a car accident? yikes! will check it out later...