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Friday, March 23, 2012

The big C: Saga of the teeth

The oral surgeon X-rayed my face and told me I was going to have to have 4 to 6 of my back molars pulled.


I have gone through all kinds of hell with my teeth, and now this.

To begin with, my baby teeth came in decayed. According to Mom, I had no teething pain at all. One morning she came in to my crib and I smiled at her, and there was a little black tooth sticking up. I had fillings in most of my baby teeth, and had to go in every 6 months for fluoride treatments to keep my permanent teeth from doing the same thing.

When my permanent teeth came in, they were blessedly free of cavities. That didn't last long. My enamel was thin and weak, and despite all the brushing and flossing I did, I had a filling nearly every time at the dentist, twice a year, every damn time until I got out of high school.

And then when I was sixteen, I got taken to an orthodontist. My bottom teeth looked like a picket fence, and my Bucky Beaver front top teeth were beginning to fold over each other. As the orthodontist put it, I had size 12 teeth in a size 8 jaw. One tooth got pulled then, the back molar on the upper right side. It was defective and growing sideways. The wisdom tooth promptly began to come down in its place, and the orthodontist looked at the X-rays and told me I had to go into the hospital to have the other three removed. The one coming in would trigger the other three, and they were under my back molars. While I was under complete anaesthetic, they had to make L-shaped tunnels in my jaw, cut the wisdom teeth into pieces, and pull them out. Thank God for anaesthetic. The worst part was the pureed food I was served in the hospital afterward. I took a big bite of what I thought was chocolate pudding. It was pureed liver. I hate liver. That ranks as one of the top 5 awful things I've eaten.

One thing I had to do when my teeth were being straightened was endure the dentist filing between my teeth with ribbon files to give them a little room to be moved. Think of fingernails on a blackboard, but in your mouth. Nasty. But they didn't have to pull any. However, as my bone is very dense, they had to push harder to get my teeth to move. Thank God for Sensodyne toothpaste! I had frequent dreams during the straightening time that my teeth were soft and I could pull them out with my fingers. Shudder.

After braces and retainers, my teeth looked pretty good for quite a while. I even ran out of fillings for a few years. Then, in my early 30s, I did one evening of tequila shots with a couple friends, and my front teeth were forever damaged from the limes. Weak enamel. Crap. Every single dentist I've been to since has asked if I habitually sucked lemons.

The teeth had a couple decades of no problems, though my once rabbity front teeth wore down to the point where they're no longer than the rest of them. In my 40s and early 50s I got four crowns, one at a time. Three were gold, and I've had no problems with them. One was porcelain, and I've always been sorry I didn't get gold again. The dentist thought it would show. I've had problems with that crown since I got it. Never went back to that dentist, either.

If I lose 4 teeth, I'll lose 2 of the gold crowns. They're on the back molars on the bottom. Maybe I can sell the gold. If they wind up pulling 6, I'll lose all three bottom crowns. The stupid porcelain one is on the next-to-farthest back tooth on the upper right side. If I keep the tooth, I'll have the crown replaced with a gold one. I don't at this point know if they'll fit me with a bridge of some sort to replace the teeth, or if I'll just have to do without them. Guess I'd better eat some steak while I still can, huh?

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