Tuesday, December 02, 2008
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!'"
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.