Friday, October 2, 2009

Both Ends of the Spectrum

On the bright side, I think, if anyone ever needs to identify my remains, this will be a handy road map.

I'm in a dentist's chair. The dentist makes me extremely nervous, and when I'm nervous I get macabre.

A while ago - okay, a long while ago - I was thoughtfully chewing on scrambled eggs, and one of my molars broke. It took me three years to screw up the courage to make an appointment with my dentist. The news wasn't particularly good: the tooth was beyond repair - even a root canal was useless. I needed a bridge.

One pulled tooth, $3,000 and five appointments later and I'm squirming in the chair, sweating through the second hour of drilling.

"Are you wearing your mouth guard at night?" the dentist inquires.

"Gaaahhrrg," I answer, hoping this is interpreted as a 'yes'. I'm grateful for the three hands, drill and suction thingy in my mouth, because then I don't have to explain that what I really mean is "sure, when I remember, and it is singularly unsexy and uncomfortable".

"We're almost done with the build up," he continues cheerfully.

I don't know where the 'build up' part of this comes in. I was picturing a nice quiet procedure involving some kind of liquid enamel that added to my teeth. Turns out 'build up' means drilling down the two molars next to the offending tooth to a nub. Bits of teeth have been flying everywhere for the past hour. I'm trying not to stare at a larger chunk that landed on his face shield. Build up, my ass.

"You've got micro-fractures in most of your molars," he says. "Are you under stress? Do you grind your teeth at night?"

"Urghsshlep," I reply, meaning: let me out of the freaking chair and I'll poke you in the eye with a sharp stick you sadistic, smiling twerp.

After four and a half hours, the procedure is done. I leave the dentist's office with a gleaming temporary bridge and a lopsided face from all the novocaine. I asked him to give me novocaine until I couldn't feel anything from my ear to my nose. I didn't want the gas, fearing it would bring down my defenses and I'd share my internal dialogue out loud.

"See you in four weeks!" chirps the receptionist. I smile back with the operative side of my face, thinking not if I'm lucky and fall under a bus first.

This morning Greta poked me awake at 6:45am. "Look Mom!" she said, "I lost a tooth!"

She is proudly displaying her tooth and new gap in her lower teeth.

"How much do you think the tooth fairy will leave for this one?"

Three thousand dollars would be nice.


  1. OK, you are braver than me. i am missing TWO molars and I just live without them. They want to do implants but I don't have the courage (or the money)

  2. You'd think there'd be a less barbaric way of doing it these days, what with technology and all, wouldn't you? Poor you.

  3. I have had so much dental work done in the last 5 years and every time I go I think of the nice vacations/etc. that I could be taking if only I could keep some of the money in my pocket. I have had the same reaction to the tooth fairy comments. . .if only she brought $$ to the adults as well :)

  4. I love reading about your kids, your art, and your recovery, and felt compelled to comment because I too have a seven year old Greta who had a visit from the tooth fairy this week!! Too funny.

  5. You'd think there'd be a less barbaric way of doing it these days, what with technology and all, wouldn't you? Poor you.