Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tale of a Tooth


Does this scare you?  It scares me.

I have awful teeth. I think I was 16 when I had my first root canal.

Why such awful teeth?  Genetics no doubt is partly to blame, but while staying with my grandparents between the ages of 6 and 9, I lived for soda pop and candy. Grandpa was the manager of the Eagles' Club. Grandma and I would often stop by in the late afternoon to pick him up. Grandma would have a drink and then one or two more, and soon she'd be gabbing with her friends. I knew we were going to be at the club for a few more hours, so I would ask for money to go next door to "Mel's," a newsstand that sold comic books and sugar. During those three years,  I became a voracious reader and consumer of sugar. 

A year ago I had a repeat root canal on a back molar. Yes, root canals can fail. This one was a bear. A vague, achy pain lingered for a year afterwards. Finally, in early February this year, the endodontist (a specialist in root canals and other unpleasant procedures) said everything looked fine. Just his saying that made the pain fade away.

So on the morning of February 22nd, I returned to my regular dentist to get a new crown. (A root canal on a crowned tooth does not necessarily mean that the crown has to be replaced. The cavity in the crown is usually just filled after the root canal.  In my case, part of that filling soon chipped away. When my dentist repaired the repair, he said I might need to get a new crown the next year. )

After talking it over, however, the dentist and I decided to leave well enough alone. The repaired filling seemed to be holding up fine. Replacing the crown could damage the 2 adjacent crowns . . . oh, you don't want to hear all this. . . . Suffice it to say that I walked out of there a happy woman.

To celebrate, my husband and I went to The Curry Leaf, a local Indian restaurant, for lunch. I bit into a piece of naan and heard an unpleasant crunch, as if there were a piece of gravel in my mouth. Nothing was wrong with the bread, but suddenly I realized my eyetooth crown was gone. Apparently I'd swallowed it.

I just wanted to cry. I called my dentist's office and sheepishly explained my situation to the receptionist. Bless her. She gave me an appointment for 3:30 that very afternoon. Novocaine, drilling, impressions--the whole dreaded routine. Finally, at 5, the dentist mercifully finished. I had a temporary crown. The permanent crown would be ready in two weeks. Two weeks?! I knew, from experience, that temporaries never stay in place too well unless they're on molars. The dentist knew it, too, He told me the crown was likely to get loose. I was to come back in if it did. "Yeah, OK, I'll do that," I mumbled, still numb with novocaine. I just wanted to get out of there.

Of course, the temporary worked loose the next day. I wasted $5 on a glue kit at the drugstore. The directions on the package were microscopic. Besides, I had a serious case of the willies. I didn't enjoy DIY dentistry. This wasn't going to work. I skipped choir practice.

I soon got better at merely replacing the temporary, without trying to glue it in. It never stayed put for long, especially if I spoke or ate. Just two days after my appointment, I took it out to eat lunch, laying it on the end table. I got distracted. When I looked for it, it was gone. Dilly, our dog, who always checks the table for forbidden snacks, apparently ate it. "That's it!" I yelled. "I am not going back for another temporary!" My husband looked alarmed. He sneaked off to phone the dentist. The dentist assured him I could get along without the temporary for a week or so.

OK, but how to get through nearly two toothless weeks? Fortunately, my dance classes at the senior center were on "semester break." I told my understanding choir director why I wouldn't be coming to practice or to church.

To take advantage of my time as a recluse, I painted our bedroom closet and a bathroom cabinet. That's why I'm wearing that plastic bag in the photo.

Then it was a week down, a week to go. When I e-mailed my story to a sympathetic friend, she said, "Oh, go to choir and go to church! My yoga teacher always says. 'Park your ego at the door. No one is looking at you but you.'"

So I did that. Showed up at choir practice and sang with the choir on Sunday. My friend was right. No one gave me a second look, not even curious little kids or horrified teen-aged girls.

I now have the new crown, a new sense of myself in the general scheme of things, and a nice bill from the dentist. 

2 comments:

peppylady (Dora) said...

Oh sorry sorry. I have to say both hubby and I had reasonble dental trouble. But we could talk about my nails.
Coffee is on

S. J. Qualls said...

My teeth don't fit, went back for adjustment, twice. I tried to explain to the dentist why they were wrong. I simply got used to going without. Now, THAT'S a scary look!