Thursday, January 31, 2008

Teeth, Part Four (And Last, Finally)

Time to wrap this puppy up. Here's the first three parts, if you want 'em: 1 - 2 - 3.

I now had some swell front teeth, but there was a long way to go before my dentist's could sleep. For instance, they had to make me look like this...

That's me three days after the actual implantation of the titanium rods in my upper jawbone. I was healing then. It was a bit worse the day before, more black around the eyes.

Before I got that look, though, there was a whole 'nother round of molds taken of my mouth, multiple extractions of molars, fitting of a second set of prosthetic teeth (still attached to the incisors, but this time extending a couple of tooth-spaces beyond them, covering where the molars had been) and then the repair of that set when it snapped in half while I was eating pizza.

Yup. Pizza broke my teeth.

I love The Pleasant Cafe, so I want it known that the story I'm about to tell you shouldn't reflect badly on them in any way. They make the best pizza in Boston. The waitresses are wonderful. The atmosphere wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea, but it suits me just fine.

Anyway, MY WIFE and I are sitting there eating some pasta and pizza. I had just recently completed another round of extractions, and had been fitted with the second prosthesis. I was happy as a clam. All the work seemed to be going well. I had no discomfort. I was eating good food in one of my favorite dives. I picked up a slice of pizza and bit into it.


Since my mouth was mostly closed around the pizza, the sound resonated in my head. It apparently made no noise outside of my head; MY WIFE told me later that she didn't hear a thing. Well, I knew it had to be something bad because you don't hear a big old *CRACK* inside your noggin unless something serious has happened.

I felt around inside my mouth with my tongue and immediately found the damage. The new prosthesis had snapped almost in half. It was no longer firmly anchored to my incisors, either. The two halves were still attached, but barely, and if I opened my mouth, the whole works might have plopped out into my dish of spaghetti.

MY WIFE looked up from eating and saw what must have been a look of some terror on my face. She immediately said, "What's wrong? Are you OK?"

By clenching my teeth together, the prosthesis stayed more-or-less in place where it should have been. I had to be careful speaking because I could have cut my tongue on the sharp edge where it had broken. I said, through the clenched teeth, "My... plate... broke."

She looked down at my spaghetti.

"No... the... plate... in... my... mouf."

It took a moment for that to register. Once it did, she knew I couldn't eat anything else. She said she'd get the waitress to come and pack up our food so we could go home.

While she looked for the waitress, I sat there with my jaw clenched, embarrassed. I was sure that everybody else in the restaurant knew I was a guy sitting there with a broken plate in his mouf.

On the ride home, MY WIFE told me about her conversation with the waitress.

"My husband just broke his plate, so could you please pack up our spaghetti and pizza to take home?"

"Broke his plate? We can get him a new one. You don't have to leave."

"No, he broke his plate."

"Really, it's no problem! I'll be glad to get him a new plate of spaghetti."

My mouth had become an Abbott & Costello routine.

When I went to sleep that night, I took the broken plate out of my mouth, of course. I laid it on the bureau. I could now feel where I had no teeth, but I still never looked at the empty spaces.

(The next morning, Dr. D'Amico repaired it rather easily, with superglue or something similar. He explained that I'd never have this problem with the permanent prosthesis. It was just that this one was anchored in only two places, rather than the four places that were planned for the final, so there was more stress on it where it had snapped. There were no further problems with it after the repair.)


I'm going to tell you about the actual placing of the implants now. This was what resulted in the puffy face and two bruised eyes in the photo above.

First, I'll tell you that it wasn't as painful as my face looks.

(That didn't quite come out right, but you know what I mean.)

OK, here's what happened. Save for two molars and the incisors, all the rest of my uppers were removed. I was getting four implants. The two molars - the furthest back on each side - were left in to provide extra chewing surface. The plan was to possibly add two more implants, where these molars were, at a later date.

(Thus far, I haven't had this done, as the prosthesis I have now is plenty good enough. I've actually had one of the two molars since removed. Know why? Another toothache. Yup. Anyway...)

I wore the second temporary prosthesis - the one that broke on the pizza - while the extraction sites healed. Once the healing was complete, I was ready for the implant procedure. In other words, once my gums healed, it was time to slice them open again.

Sorry. I know that sounds nasty. It is what happened, though. Dr. Strauss opened my gums down to the bone, and then he drilled into that bone, in four different places, for the placement of the titanium screw rods. This is what the rods look like.

I got that picture from a site called Your Dentistry Guide. Here's a really good explanation of the actual procedure, from the same site.

After the initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it is slowly widened to allow for placement of the implant screw. Following this placement, a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the implant site to heal and the dental implant to anchor (osseointegration). After several months, the protective cover is removed and a temporary crown is placed on top of the dental implant... The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown.

In my case, replace the word "crown" with "full prosthesis", since it was to replace 12 teeth, not just one.

The holes were drilled, and screws placed, with only novocaine for an anesthetic. I was awake throughout. It wasn't fun, that's for sure, but it truly wasn't as bad as it sounds. By this time, I had become pretty used to invasive procedures. I wasn't freaking like I did when my first teeth were extracted. And I got another scrip for a decent-sized bottle of percs, so that was a plus.

Now it was time for the bone to heal. In order for the process to be a success, the bone is supposed to grow around the screw. What's happening is that you're tricking the bone into thinking the screw is a tooth, really. If the bone doesn't heal properly around the screw, the implant will not take. In that case, rejection happens and the procedure needs to be repeated. Luckily, all of mine took - no rejections.

This last was somewhat surprising to Dr. Strauss. He knew I smoked, and he knew I was a catcher on the ballfield. He would have preferred I did neither of those things. Smoking is supposed to bring on a much higher rate of rejection in these procedures, but it didn't affect mine - Thank God. And if I had taken a fastball in the mush, who knows what would have happened?

(One thing I didn't have to deal with, but which some patients undergoing the procedure do, was a bone graft. If there isn't enough healthy bone tissue in the site where the implant is to be made, an extra piece of bone must be taken from somewhere else in the body and grafted on, giving the implant a stronger anchor. This is, as you might imagine, not a pleasant thing. However, if it's needed, what else can you do?)

Finally, after the initial implants had healed, it was time for the placing of the permanent prosthesis. I had another mold done by Dr. D'Amico. Then, while the prosthesis was being manufactured, I returned to Dr. Strauss for him to open my gums again, for placement of the final pieces to which the prosthesis would be attached. Once those sites had once again healed, and both doctors were sure that everything was hunky-dory, I had my incisors extracted. Then, finally, the permanent prosthesis was attached.


And that's finally that. I have had no problems with it since I got it. It is permanently in my mouth, just like real teeth. It is far stronger than my rotten original teeth were. I can do just about anything I could previously do. The only exceptions are, say, chomping into an apple or eating corn on the cob. I could probably do both of those things if I was careful, but it's just as easy to cut up the apple or eat corn off the cob. It's not worth another $8,000 for me to find out if I could do them, in any case.

There has been a decided drop-off in the number of colds, sore throats, earaches, and other minor maladies that were no doubt exasperated by the toxins I harbored in my bad teeth. In addition, I lost the possible toxicity of some 9 or 10 amalgam fillings - although whether or not those cause health problems later in life is still somewhat unconfirmed.

And here I am, very happy with my lovely new smile, a month or so after everything was completed.

And you know what? It's six years later and I'm still smiling.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Teeth, Part Three

(Backstory here and here.)

When I began writing about this, I expected it to be a two-parter. Now it looks like it will end up being twice that. I'll try to keep it as brief as possible. I'll give the larger details of the procedures I had done, but I'll be scarce with some of the minutiae. You don't need to hear every gruesome bit.

I mentioned Dr. D'Amico in the preceding parts of this tale. While he was responsible for the diagnosis and recommendations that resulted in me not losing all of my teeth, he only did part of the actual work on my mouth. For the surgical placement of the implants themselves, he referred me to a friend and colleague, a Dr. Strauss. If you're in the Boston area and considering anything similar, I have no reservations concerning an endorsement of their services. They were both great.

The first procedure undertaken was to have a mold made of my then-current dental situation. A gelatinous goopy rubber was applied to my teeth and gums by Dr. D'Amico. When this dried, he peeled it off, giving the prosthesis manufacturer a perfect impression of my mouth. The initial temporary prosthesis would be fashioned using this. Once the prosthesis was manufactured, then some of the teeth designated for removal would come out.

(I should explain that there were a series of three prostheses used during the course of the treatments, with the third and final one being what I've had in my mouth for the past six years. I'll explain the extent to which each one replaced actual teeth as I go along.)

After the impressions were taken, my next appointment was with Dr. Strauss for the root planing. I was given local anesthetic (Novocaine) and he then went to work digging deeply under my lower gums, cleaning out plaque and debris below the gumline. There was a decent amount of blood and, even with the novocaine numbing my tongue, I could taste the putrid gunk he was bringing up. It was not a pleasant or gentle procedure, although Dr. Strauss certainly performed it as gently as was possible. It was a thorough hour-plus of determined scraping of tooth and surrounding tissue. I was given a prescription for Oxycodone (Percodan) following the procedure. By the time the novocaine had worn off, I was buzzed on the percs, so I had no problems with pain. The prescription was for four days worth, which should give you some idea of the rigorousness of the procedure.

Following the planing, Dr. D'Amico did some drilling and filling of the lower teeth, plus a small cosmetic procedure (bonding) to rebuild one of my incisors. He again took an impression of my mouth for the prosthesis, making sure that there had been no significant change during the time between the initial mold, the planing, and the current general dentistry.

The above took a month of weekly visits to accomplish in total, between the two offices.

Now it was time for the moment of truth. I was to have my front teeth removed and replaced by the first prosthesis, which was actually a very snug-fitting bridge filling the gap that would be left between my incisors, or eye teeth. This bridge would be anchored to the eye teeth with a strong glue, fitting over them and sitting directly on the gums between. It was one-piece replacing six teeth, basically, as my actual eye teeth would be inside of it. As soon as the four front teeth were removed - and the bleeding stopped - the bridge would be fitted. I would go home the same day with new teeth in place of the old ones.

I'll be honest and tell you that I was scared witless that day. Up until then, I hadn't had anything done that was irrevocable. This was entirely different. Once the four front teeth were extracted, there was no way to put them back. If it turned out that I regretted the decision - that the prosthesis was in any way worse than the teeth I had removed - then I'd regret it for the rest of my life.

MY WIFE accompanied me to the dentist's office for this part of the procedure. I was glad to have her there, although she didn't need to be. I think she was under the impression that I might not be able to drive afterwards or something. Anyway, it was good to have someone to keep me relatively calm.

I was escorted into the chair and had a bib tied around my neck. As Dr. D'Amico was giving me the novocaine shot, I saw the prosthesis for the first time. It was sitting on a table to the side of the chair. It was smaller than I had imagined. I hadn't realized, until then, that there would be nothing touching my palate. The only contact would be with my gums directly over where the extractions were to take place. For some reason, I had imagined it to be like the dental plates I had so often seen at relative's houses during my youth, with a big piece of pink plastic extending back from the teeth themselves to provide suction with the roof of the mouth. This was all white, just teeth, and looked as though it would be much less intrusive. I was happy about that.

The shot took effect and the doctor went right to work. He had me open wide. I did with my mouth, but I shut my eyes tight. I didn't want to see my teeth leaving. I felt a tug, then another, a third, then the fourth one. There was no difficulty at all on his part. My teeth had so little anchorage left to the jawbone, they just popped right out with only the slightest strength used on his part.

I sat there with my eyes still shut, sweating. I was afraid to use my tongue to feel where my teeth had been. I had felt the slight tugs, but I wasn't positive he had taken them out, due to the lack of any struggle in his doing so. I said, "Ah ay ow?"

(Translation: "Are they out?")

My eyes shot open wide. There was nothing for my tongue to hit against in pronouncing certain letters! Since my livelihood in large part depended upon my being able to speak clearly and distinctly, I was transported into a small state of shock.

The doctor, with his back to me, said, "Yup. Four of the easiest extractions I've ever made. There was almost nothing aside from your gum tissue holding them in." He turned to me, with a smile on his face, and then he saw how I looked. I was pale, sweating, and otherwise as though I might have just seen a ghost.

He got a look of concern on his face. "Are you OK, Jim?" he asked.

"I nuh no... I ink doe." ("I don't know. I think so.")

He said, "Just a few more minutes and we'll put the prosthesis in. Hang in there."

Because I was so nervous, I very badly had to take a pee. I said, "Id id alrigh if I guh duh deh medzruh?"

He said yes, it was alright if I went to the mens room. He warned me not to rinse my mouth.

In order to go to the mens room, I had to head back towards the lobby. MY WIFE saw me coming towards her like some sort of dental zombie, bib still around my neck and blood on my chin. I gave her a little wave and tried to grin. She - much less afraid of the sight of a lack of teeth in my mouth than I was - asked me to show her where my teeth used to be. I shook my head no. I didn't want her seeing that. I went into the mens room, where I not only avoided rinsing my mouth, but also avoided looking in the mirror.

(To this day, I have still never seen my mouth without a full set of teeth in it. The prospect of losing my teeth was so frightening to me, I assiduously avoided looking when the small windows of opportunity presented themselves. The first time that Dr. D'Amico had to remove the prosthesis for another mold to be made, after I had had it in my mouth for a couple of weeks, I was visibly shaken. The device fit so well, and I had become so used to thinking of it as an actual part of me, it was like losing my teeth for a second time. He told me - sincerely - that if he had known how much it was going to disturb me, he would have sedated me for my own well-being.)

Long story short, after I returned from deh medzruh, the doctor placed the bridge in, securing it onto my incisors. He adjusted it a bit here and there, asking me to bite down gently and then tell him if it felt right to me. And it did. It fit perfectly; no pain at all, which amazed me. I was able to eat - gingerly - as soon as I got home. I was very careful, as I was afraid of how strong the thing actually was, but I needn't have been. It was easily stronger than the teeth that were removed.

After eating, I was very sleepy. The procedure was taxing mentally, and a new round of percs was coursing through my bloodstream, sending me to la-la land. I went into the bathroom to take a pee before heading to the bedroom for a nap. As I was washing up, I looked in the mirror. Looking back at me was a fellow with a lovely white even smile, and that smile grew bigger and bigger the longer he looked.

It dawned on me that not only wouldn't I regret this decision, but it was probably one of the best decisions I had ever made. I went into the bedroom and lay down. While there was still much more work to be completed, I drifted off to sleep very happy with what had transpired thus far.

(Go To Part Four)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Teeth, Part Two

(I gave you some background yesterday. If you weren't here then, you should probably read that stuff first.)

After my many dental problems - as well as my decided lack of care concerning my teeth - I finally got smart in 2001. As is usual in my case, the intelligence came from an outside source.

I had another toothache. It led to another extraction; the 10th of my life to that point, as near as I can recall.

(You may think it somewhat odd that I can't say with certainty how many teeth I had pulled to that point. It would seem that a routine poking about of my tongue, in order to count my teeth, and then subtracting the number of remaining teeth from 32 [the usual adult allotment] would provide an immediate and accurate answer. The problem is that, in the procedure I'll tell you about shortly, I had a large number of teeth taken. I don't know that number, so I have no reliable way of knowing how many there were prior.)

This latest pain in my pearlies was the first I had had since moving to Watertown in late 1994. Since I hadn't paid a visit to a dentist in any of the seven intervening years, I now had to find one to yank this most recent offender.

I didn't care if he had the chairside manner of Torquemada, as well as roaches scrabbling across the spitsink, so long as he had a DDS following his name and could get the damn thing out of my mouth immediately. I opened the Yellow Pages to "Dentists" and looked for the one closest to home who could do the job. As it turned out, I was extremely lucky. I found a wonderful dentist simply by chance. His name was Domenic D'Amico. He told me to come by as soon as I was able and he would perform the needed pull.

I entered the office and only had to wait in the reception area for a few minutes. I was then escorted into a chair, given a bib, and told that the doctor would be by right away. And so he was.

He asked the usual questions - how long since you've been to a dentist, etc. - to which I gave the usual embarrassing answers. He never once gave me an exasperated sigh or a lecture or anything else that I would have found off-putting. He made some notes, then gave me a blessed shot of novacaine. As relief flooded my face - I believe my shoulders literally dropped about six inches from the tension release - he explained what he was going to do, and then went about the business of removing the painful tooth. It was over quickly and easily.

I thanked him, left the inner office, and paid the receptionist. I then met MY WIFE at a spot we had planned to meet that night, a wad of absorbent cotton in my cheek, telling her that her husband had one less body part than he had that morning.

Fast forward a couple of months. I decided (with much input from MY WIFE, who was - as now - a smart woman with way more common sense than me concerning health matters) to have an actual full dental check-up. I finally decided to get onto the right path and take care of those teeth I had left. I was hoping that I might forgo any further toothaches. I had easily had enough of them to last a lifetime.

Instead, the dentist I visited (who was NOT Dr. D'Amico; I went to this guy, instead, because I had a coupon for a first visit special) told me that all of my teeth had to come out.

He was of the opinion that they couldn't possibly be saved. I numbly listened as he outlined how they could all be plucked in one visit, and dentures fitted the same day. I nodded as he spoke, but in my heart of hearts I was not ready for this. I had expected a stern lecture again, but not a death sentence.

On the ride home, I tried to figure out some way to tell MY WIFE this news with a cheery sort of face. I didn't want her to feel any of this pain I had very much brought on myself. I pretty much talked myself into believing it would be for the best. I certainly wouldn't be troubled with toothaches any longer, that's for sure. My breath would be better. And all of my relatives had gotten along for years and years with phony grinders. I supposed that I'd be OK with it, too, after a while. I decided to put on a somewhat brave front.

I told MY WIFE the marvelous news. She would have none of it. She was immediately non-accepting of this guy's diagnosis. She firmly told me to get a second opinion. Aside from not believing that all of my teeth had to be removed, she had concerns - which I hadn't even considered - about my ability to perform my job (commercial voice work, mostly) with dentures.

I am forever in her debt for that wisdom.

We talked about it, and I figured that I'd go back to Dr. D'Amico. He had been such a nice fellow the last time when I had that tooth pulled; very non-judgmental, and gentle in his work. I made an appointment to discuss my dental options with him.

In the end, he was of the opinion that my lower teeth could be saved for a fair while through means of a root planing. This is a procedure wherein an oral surgeon goes below the gum line and removes as much junk as possible, literally scraping the unseen portion of the teeth clean. It would be a bit painful, but performed under novacaine and there would be pain meds provided afterwards. This last sold me on it completely, of course. Save my teeth and get high? Sign me up!

The uppers? Not such good news. No doubt - they did have to go. If I didn't have them out now, I had nothing but pain and sorrow ahead, and quickly, too. However, there were better options than plain old dentures. Dr. D'Amico felt that I was a good candidate for implants.

Some of you may not be familiar with just how dental implants work. I'll give you the quick explanation now. I'll try to get it as completely as possible, while allowing for the possibility that not too many of you will want a boring lecture about it.

Basically, small titanium rods are implanted into the bone of the jaw. A prosthesis is attached to these rods. When completed successfully, the implants are fairly much as strong as natural teeth. In my case, it was also a wonderful chance to have a better appearance cosmetically. I not only received strong permanent teeth; I also received a smile I would not be ashamed to use.

I had become very used to having rotten ugly teeth. So much so, that I had taken to grinning rather than smiling. Not that I never smiled, mind you, but if I had a chance to think about it, I kept my teeth covered. I knew they were hideous. Now, I would be able to just relax, and smile without giving thought to hiding anything. That alone has pretty much been worth the cost.

Speaking of cost, it was considerable. It took close to $8,000 and months of work to get what I have now. It was worth every penny and every minute.

Tomorrow, I'll give you the details concerning the work that was done. It will get grody, so be prepared. However, keep in mind the results and you'll be happy - just like me.

(Go To Part Three)

Monday, January 28, 2008


A recent post might have led you to believe that there was no way on earth I could possibly look more grotesque. You’d be wrong. As you are about to discover, I could have easily looked worse.

Yes, those are my real teeth. Or, at least, they were my real teeth. Here’s the story of how they became my former teeth.


For as long as I can remember, the Sullivan side of my family has been at war with their teeth. Only one relative older than me hasn’t had trouble with them, and that’s because he took action, early on, to avoid battles later. He had his teeth capped. They look damn good, too. Everybody else in the family? Dentures.

Some of them didn’t need to have dentures, but they ended up with them anyway. My grandfather had no teeth except those he paid for, but I just recently found out it didn’t have to be that way. In a telephone conversation with my Uncle Jim, he told me that Pa had beautiful teeth until he ran into a quack doctor.

It seems that Pa had developed a hideous rash on his legs. He had no idea where it came from, and nothing he did had any real soothing effect. About the best there was to offer in those days was calamine lotion – no hydrocortisone or other better agents of relief. After itching, scratching, and generally going crazy for a couple of months, he finally went to see a doctor about it. This doctor told him that the reason he had developed the rash was because of bad teeth. Pa asked the quack what the solution was. He was told that he should have all of his teeth removed, and that this would cure his rash.

Now, you or I, with the wisdom of this current age at our disposal, might have sought out a second opinion on the matter. However, this was 60-some-odd years in the past. At that time, you rarely questioned a doctor. You assumed that he knew his business, and that his diagnosis was correct. Also, Pa had been going nuts with this thing, so he wasn’t in the best frame of mind to make a rational decision. So…

Yup. He had them all yanked. Beautiful, pearly white, perfectly healthy, and not a single one of them left in his head. The worst part of it was that the rash didn’t go away. If he had at least gotten that out of the deal, it might not have been a complete horror story.

(Eventually it went away, of course, but not in any sort of immediate manner that would lend credence to the quack’s diagnosis. Pa suffered with it for another couple of months, with the added inconvenience of having to gum his food in the meantime. Amazingly, he didn’t sue the quack. As a matter of fact, I believe this idiot remained the family physician for decades. It was, as I said, a simpler time.)

(There seems to be a general reticence, among the Sullivans, to seek compensatory damages. I had a great aunt who, in the course of an eye examination, somehow had ether poured into her eye. It blinded her in that eye instantly. Forever after, the iris of that eye was a pale milky blue, a source of great wonderment to me as a child. That guy didn’t get sued, either.)

My grandfather’s loss of his teeth is a pretty horrifying story, but my own father’s story wasn’t much better. He eradicated HIS teeth without any advice from a physician. He just decided, one day, that he had had enough of them, so he had them all removed surgically, opting for a lifetime of dentures.

This all happened either when I was very young or before I was born; I’m not quite sure which it was. However, in photos I’ve seen – none of which would reproduce well here, otherwise I’d show you - they weren’t outstandingly pretty. They weren’t hideously ugly, either, but they very much resembled my teeth at a similar age, which means they were likely headed to the state of mine in the photo at the top of this page, which is hideously ugly. I don’t know how bad they were, insofar as pain might be concerned, but I would have to suppose it was more than just cosmetic. Anyway, he had it done - and regretted it almost immediately.

One time, when I was discussing my own dental woes, he told me that the decision to have his teeth removed was the biggest mistake of his life. He related how, soon afterwards, he sat in his bed with his mouth aching, able to eat only a soft piece of bread soaked in spaghetti sauce, and wishing to God he had the ability to go back in time and not have done it.

(One of the things he did get from having the procedure done so early in life, and what he had done it for, really, was a mouth that took the dentures beautifully. He was a sure speaker and utterly fearless with the things, for the most part. They fit snugly and I don’t ever recall seeing him have a problem in public with them. They were good looking teeth, and he never suffered the facial deformity – sunken cheeks, protruding lower jaw – that many people with dentures [Pa for instance] acquire as they age.)

All of my other older Sullivan relatives – every uncle and aunt; every granduncle and grandaunt; also my grandmother – had false teeth. You couldn’t walk through a Sullivan household without sooner or later spotting at least one glass full of water with plastic choppers soaking in it. Given this, it’s likely that both my grandfather and my father might have eventually gone the route they did, anyway, so that softens the tragedy a bit.

Anyway, I grew up knowing there was a good possibility that my own teeth might not last. It was not a pleasant thought. Combine that with my Dad’s story about so strongly regretting the loss of his own teeth, and I was fairly much haunted by the prospect.

I’ve thought about it at length and I don’t know if how I’ve treated my teeth had something to do with a subconscious realization that they were going to go sooner or later anyway. Growing up, I didn’t do much to make it any less of a probability. I regularly ate copious amounts of candy. I more-or-less soaked my teeth in sugar for much of my childhood, having a fondness for butterscotches, Canada Mints, bubble gum, Sprite, Pixie Stix, Sweet Tarts, and many other despoilers of dentifrice. And, while I made brushing of my teeth at least a twice-daily occurrence – sometimes a four or five times a day thing, in my 20’and 30’s - I would often have something to eat or drink before bedtime that made the ritual useless, leaving a corrosive coating on my enamel for the 7 or 8 hours I slept.

My visits to the dentist always resulted in drilling and filling of cavities. The cleanings were regularly accompanied by stern lectures – none of which had much effect other than a day or two of half-hearted flossing, followed by a return to the candy counter.

Another mitigating factor in my failure to truly take care of my teeth may have been the fact that my dentist let me administer my own nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas.

I’m not kidding. He actually let me hold the bulb that, when squeezed, released another dose into the tubes that led from the tank into my nostrils. He told me that anytime I felt more pain, I should have another pump or two. As you might expect, I often felt more pain. I always got wasted in the dentist’s chair. Unlike most of the populace, I looked forward to dental visits.

My teen and young adult years were filled with toothaches, and the toothaches were followed by extractions. I had something like eight or nine teeth pulled between the ages of 14 and 40, all molars. Each extraction was preceded by days of hideous pain, often accompanied with overdoses of pain medication and/or destruction of household property.

I once took an entire bottle of aspirin in an attempt to alleviate a toothache. I didn’t just shovel them all into my mouth at once, of course. I took a couple and they had no effect after a half-hour, so I took a couple more, with the same result. I was insane from the pain, so I then took three more. Then four more. Then a handful, and another handful, crying all the while. I don’t remember passing out, but I certainly did. I woke up about two hours later, on the floor of my father’s bedroom, dizzy and nauseous – and with my tooth still agonizing me. I eventually got to a dentist. I was lucky I didn't end up in a box.

MY WIFE could tell you, with some embarrassment (which I have much less of) about the time I took a door off its hinges in the throes of a toothache. I accomplished the door unhinging via the expedient of punching it with all my might. I put my fist halfway through it – it was a fairly solid wooden door - and it tore the hinges out of the doorjamb, the door flying into the bedroom and crashing to the floor. I’m sorry to have to report that this experiment in pain relief didn’t work. It did take my mind off of the pain in my mouth for about, oh, fifteen seconds, but it was hardly cost effective.

At other times, I tried - I kid you not - to extract one of my own teeth via such implements as a spoon, a pair of pliers, and even one memorable attempt at replicating a Three Stooges routine, wherein I tied string around my tooth and then the other end around a doorknob. I slammed the door, with the result being what a sane person would have expected. The tooth remained intact, while the doorknob was neatly extracted from the door.


Well, I've given you a couple of interesting stories, and also shown you why you should be extremely grateful if you have good teeth, but that’s hardly telling you about how my old rotten teeth exited my mouth. I promise I’ll get to it tomorrow. See you then!

(Go To Part Two)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Aunt Jemima's Mattapancakes? JB Sash & Dorchester?

Just a few things I need to get out of my brain (in order to make room for lines, should Martin Scorsese offer me a speaking part.)

This is just so that those of you who know me only from yesterday's posting (see link above) will not continue to labor under the mistaken impression that I can't help but look like a mental patient.

Now, on to matters of genius.

MY WIFE has come up with the solution for the state's fiscal woes. Her plan will allow the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to forgo selling its soul to casino operators, as well as make the elimination of the income tax a realistic feasibility to even the most ardent liberals.

We should sell naming rights to our cities and towns to the highest corporate bidders.

Well, why not? Sports teams do it all the time. TD Banknorth Garden, the Staples Center, Arco Arena, Tropicana Field - the list is gigantic. And if they're shelling out millions of dollars for the right to throw their name and logo onto such small pieces of real estate, imagine how much they'd be willing to fork over for the ability to name entire towns!

An obvious one is our own home of WATERTOWN. Why not ask Coca-Cola for a couple hundred million for the right to change it to DasaniTown? I'm pretty sure we could get a bidding war going. Do you think Coke will stand idly by while there's the possibility of our burg being called AquaFinaVille? I don't think so! And they could draw their product right from the Charles River and nobody would know the difference.

The possibilities are almost as endless as the stream of revenue would be.

Dr. PEPPERELL; Jimmy Dean Breakfast SAUGUS; Magic SHEFFIELD; NEW Improved Kingsford Charcoal With Less ASHFORD; I Could Have HADLEY a V-8; CHIC-Fil-A-OPEE.

Old jokes could be recycled for profit. Dick Hertz from HOLDEN? Use Vaseline!

SALEM? MARLBORO? CHESTERFIELD? We could sell 'em to the tobacco companies and they wouldn't even have to change the names! I bet D'Angelo would be willing to go to war with Subway and Quisno's for the rights to SANDWICH. And Alka Seltzer would pony up a pretty penny for BELCHERTOWN.

(I dread to think what the folks from Preparation H could do with ATHOL, but we need the bucks.)

We could even throw out a few bones to registered philanthropies. ACTON could become The Aids Acton Committee. DUXBURY could be known as Ducks Unlimited Bury. How about Save The WALES? READING Is Fundamental But That's Not How You Pronounce This Town.

Selling just ONE name to only ONE company would make us all millionaires. MasterCardAchusetts. I rest my case.

I own this CD. All I can think of, whenever I look at the cover, is that somebody in the Columbia Records art department must have been royally pissed at Goodman. "Here's my chance to shove that clarinet of his right up his ass!"

Tomorrow, the Boston Celtics play the Minnesota Timberwolves. I marked this on my calendar as "New Celtics vs. Old Celtics." This is because the Timberwolves have something like 6 ex-Celtics on their roster, the most notable being Al Jefferson (seen lurking in the background of the above picture.)

The calendar I marked it on came from a funeral home. MY WIFE had gone to pay her respects to a relative of a friend, and they had Pope John Paul II calendars - free for the taking - in the lobby on the way out. She knew I needed a calendar for my office, so she grabbed one. It's rather nice, actually. It has lots of room on each date to write notes concerning things of importance, such as when the current Celtics play their alumni. Since it is a Catholic calendar, it also has the feast dates of various saints included.

As I was writing "New Celtics vs. Old Celtics" in the space for January 25th, I noticed that it was also The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. I won't pretend to know enough about Paul Pierce's character to make a judgment concerning his eligibility for sainthood, but I did somehow find it rather fitting. And maybe that's a halo he's wearing, not a sweatband, eh?

Let's see. Anything else of importance to say?

Oh, yes.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Certifiable? I Can Only Hope!

Courtesy of Beantown Bloggery comes the following news:

Grant Wilfley Casting is opening a satellite office in Boston for the feature film ASHECLIFFE directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Filming begins in the Boston, Mass. area in March 2008. An open call will be held from 10am to 4pm on Saturday Jan. 26 at Boston University (George Sherman Union- Metcalf Hall) 775 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215 to cast extras for the feature film.

Casting for people to play mental institution staff (doctors, nurses, orderlies, guards), mental patients (including interesting, quirky or unusual character faces), the malnourished and emaciated concentration camp prisoners (many of whom will have their heads shaved), and people to play WWII American and German soldiers (young athletic types, people with military or law enforcement experience and knowledge of firearms, police officers, fire fighters, ROTC, etc).

What caught my eye was...

... mental patients (including interesting, quirky or unusual character faces) ...

I figure I can do that. The other roles? Not so much. I'm not malnourished or emaciated, that's for sure. Young and athletic? I used to be, but not now. I might be able do one of the institutional staff, but my strength is certainly more towards the institutionalized.

So, I went home last night and took photos of myself. These are just normal poses, of course. I didn't try to look insane.

I realize that publishing these has blown any chance I ever had at becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And there are certain people, with whom I've had political arguments, who think these represent me perfectly well as I really am. I don't care. I want to be a movie star. Mr Scorsese? I am yours to do with what you will. I'll be waiting by the phone.