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Monday, April 06, 2009

Dental Record


Well, it’s happened again. Another molar cracked...then shattered. Verily, I am disintegrating.

Of that, there can be no doubt.

Sometime in the coming days I will be fitted with yet another crown. Another glint of gold when I smile. That’s neither a horrible fate nor a tragic handicap. It’s just a golden smile and I can deal with that (as long as I don’t encounter some crazed Midas in a dark back alley in remote Romania brandishing a sturdy set of vise-grips).

Once again, a dentist will set up shop within the confines of my gums. I guess you could say that I am quite conversant in the ways of “modern dentistry”. My education began quite early. My teeth fascinate me (in ways only teeth can). My upper incisors are identical to my father’s. My lower incisors mirror my mother’s. Unfortunately, my mother seemingly passed along a “cavity” gene. You see, her teeth disintegrated rapidly...as did mine. A credible argument may be made that her condition (ergo, mine) reflected a half-decade of malnourishment (prior/during/after my conception). That’s quite possible. Even my “baby teeth” crumbled to dust before they could be ejected. Oh, yes. I met my first dentist early.

Lucky me.

I’ve ALWAYS benefitted from advances in dentistry. Granted, my first recollection of a dentist’s drill is of a Rube Goldberg contraption consisting of pulleys and frayed, braided cords that whirled, twisted and screeched valiantly to spin the satanic device we call a “drill bit” sans benefit of a cooling water spray or the blessed relief of a nerve block to mask the pain. Modern dentistry in the 1950’s left a bit to be desired. Still, it was better than hand-augers, pliers and awls, no?
I was told I have a “high tolerance for pain".

Lucky me.

Things got better in the 60’s. Oh, my teeth were rotting as fast as ever...faster... encouraged (in no small part) by poor eating, sleeping and dental hygiene habits. My wisdom teeth had to go...and fast!
I’m tearfully grateful for the anesthetics and the pain-killers. Truly, tearfully grateful.

The 70’s were more my style. I had a dentist who piously subscribed to the “no pain” school of dentistry. He would slap a nitrous oxide mask on me before I even settled into the chair. He’d administer a topical anesthetic before he injected the “juice”. He had me in stitches before the third injection could even take effect. He was THE FUNNIEST human being I have EVER met. I laughed my way through cleanings and fillings, even easing up on brushing and flossing so that I’d have an excuse to pay the man another visit.

Change comes, as change must. I found gainful employment in another suburb far, far away. It was then that I stumbled into the office of a kindred spirit. A dentist my age, who loved music first and dentistry second. I felt right at home. He was a “conservative” man, less apt to toss around drugs like party favors. OK. He wasn’t perfect. But he was diligent, meticulous and conscientious. He played a five-string banjo in a band. He wore a silver bracelet (as do I). We’d talk about music and playing in bar bands and we’d laugh at all the shared memories, as we filled, capped and crowned our way to friendship.

Fast forward to the present. My musician/dentist/friend retired.
I moved far, far away. My dental hygienist found a new home in a “modern” dental practice consisting of a quartet of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young dentists. I remain loyal to my hygienist who’s scraped and vaporized and buffed her way into my affections over the course of a decade. She knows my story. I know hers. She’s seen me with short hair and long. As a powerful professional and as a lost soul.
I drive two hours to see her every four months. After she is finished purtifying my smile, she hands me to her young dentists and they go to work with their modern methods and modern tools. I feel no pain.

I feel no connection.

I had my teeth cleaned just a week or two ago. Had a coupla fillings replaced, too. I didn’t know that silver/mercury amalgam fillings have given way to chemical resins and UV hardening! Cool. My amalgam fillings are about ten years past their “past due” date, anyway. I’m going epoxy!

Well, long story short, I’ll get to see my hygienist and my “wet-behind-the-ears” dentist, again, this week. I’m sure I’ll walk away non-plussed. Life has gotten easy (within the confines of my mandibles, anyway).

Just one more thing...I mentioned to my young, bright-eyed dentist that I kinda missed the nitrous oxide.

Well, you know...” intoned my highly-trained professional, “no matter how good the mask, the nitrous oxide still escapes...and dentists ended up inhaling that stuff all day long.”

Oh.

* * *

11 Comments:

Blogger tipota said...

only you jonas, could come up with a dental history story that made me laugh! we wont go into my dental history but i can say i remember because of long hours at the office i never had time for the toothache i'd had for a week. then it was root canal time, but i was glad because i got the day off!
and i love the picture, it should be hanging in my dentists office!

Tue Apr 07, 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger Snowqueen said...

Hi Jonas.

I had my first crown 2 weeks ago here in Seoul. I cracked a back molar as well.

I have a few fillings but other than that, good teeth...although I do have a gap in my front teeth that I have thought of closing (again, as a child I wore braces for 3 years to fix my bucked teeth, wich they did, and to close the gap, which it mostly did, but over time it has opened again) but then I think 'it is me' and I am kinda used to it. Still, in my moments of vanity, I ponder.

Tue Apr 07, 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Wow! You travel two hours to see your hygenist... very loyal client, you are.

I now have 7 crowns (five of those also had root canals) and a bridge... life in the Air Force with non-fluoridated water as a kid has taken its toll on my chompers. But I will keep them as long as I can, and if any others have to come out, I will go the implant route. I soooo don't want dentures!

On a more positive note, my dad's mum died with all her own teeth, at the age of 95. So perhaps I will take after her in that way also, and not just in looks.

Tue Apr 07, 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger L'uragano (The Hurricane) said...

Jonas, only you can make the dental experience.....romantic....nostalicand melancholic (but not for the obvious reasons).
well done!!!!

Tue Apr 07, 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Got to love Spackle and Bondo! My guy still gives me gas... hummm. Maybe he loves it as much as I do?

Tue Apr 07, 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Woman in a Window said...

Teeth are curious markers to me. Always have been. They reveal my half assed attempts of just barely making it through this life. I'm with you, Jonas, disintegration and all.

Wed Apr 08, 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous joanne said...

this is just wonderful writing... i love how your dental record just screams for those of us reading to want to just jump right in and share our war stories too...

and i love the accompanying image...

Thu Apr 09, 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger lu said...

I bet I beat you at time in the dentist chair. The sound of the drill, that smell, like pine and mint, the elevator music...

I'm just thankful I'm not using polydent yet.

Sat Apr 11, 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger rebecca said...

I have a sister who is 65 years old, not ONE cavity in her life. Her daughter, the same. Plus, I have two other sisters right around the same age that have little or no cavities - ever. All teeth in place, never any problems.

Meanwhile, my brother and I were not spared. We have had problems with cavities since childhood and I believe both him and I have a filling in each and every tooth in our mouths.

My mother lost many of her teeth at an early age (I believe her 40s), while my father, who never visited a dentist in his life, never had one cavity nor lost one single tooth and died with all of his teeth, healthy and strong at the age of 82. And, add to this that he ate sweets like there was no tomorrow.

I remember reading something that cavities come from something you produce in your saliva and not so much as to the diet you maintain. So, if this is true, then it explains the differences between my siblings and I. Apparently, the inherited my father's dna, while my brother and I inherited our mother's.

I feel for you. I hate dentists. Oh, what I would not give to have been spared.....

Sun Apr 12, 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger shadowlands6822 said...

The picture is so true...did you draw it? I wouldn't be surprised if you did. You are a multi talented person.

Sorry about the tooth. I have found that teeth tell you the truth about the years...I don't like what mine are telling me.

Here's to painlessness and nitrous oxide. I really don't care if the dentist inhales....

Sun Apr 12, 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Hmmmm. Methinks I struck a nerve.

I gotta say, I love these comments! I learned a bit a bit 'bout your collective dental disasters/challenges (Oh! Ponita!!!). A wee bit 'bout saliva. And I blushed a bit.

It's all good.

I also learned that a GREAT many people Google "dentistry + nitrous oxide". Oh.

(By the by, I leave the art to artists...that way, no one gets hurt...)

Mon Apr 13, 01:39:00 AM  

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