Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sojourner Tooth

I have had this little tooth ever since I was five or six. When those baby teeth came out I remember it was my first exposure to the reality of growing pains. Teeth would get loose, sure, but sometimes they needed a little adult help to be removed as their replacements grew in. At one point Grandaddy tied one end of a string to a tooth and the other to a doorknob and slammed the door. It was not painless, but it was quick.

The tooth that needed to be removed at this advanced age was in the center of the bottom row. It may have been the one that came in after Grandaddy slammed that door, I don't know for sure, but I know the tooth has seen a lot of history. In the 1960's, soon after I discovered I was pregnant, I had an abscess that I found required a root canal. This was my first experience in the world of adult dentistry, and I'm here to tell you dentistry has come a long way in the intervening years. The young dentist performed the root canal by applying a silver post. It was certainly the most painful experience I had had in a dentist's chair up to that time, and probably since. Within the past five years I had to have a root canal done, and, with all the space-age type equipment, it was a breeze compared to that work on that little tooth all those years ago.

The dentist in the old days told me that the tooth was officially dead and led me to believe that when I got old--maybe 50 or 60--the dead tooth would be discolored and different from my other teeth. (It didn't, thank goodness.) He also said he didn't believe in the old saw "A tooth for every child," which I had never heard before anyway. When I told it to my young husband, he said, "Maybe not, but you just lost one for this one."

Over the years, the saved tooth has sojourned everywhere I have--to Switzerland, where my dentist's office had a view of the gorgeous Lake Leman with its water spout known locally as the "jet d'eau," back to the States where I discovered dentist chairs that reclined to the point of being chaise longues. Rubber gloves went on after the advent of AIDS, and drills became high-speed as novacaine shots became hardly noticeable. I always sympathize with my dentists, and have learned to be patient when they try to talk to me with my mouth full of hardware and cotton rods. The little lavatories for spitting into and paper cups for rinsing from disappeared as suction tubes did a better job.

Over the years I began to notice a boil-like eruption near the little tooth from time to time. When I asked my dentist about it she explained that it was probably caused by the old silver post, saying that they were no longer used because they deteriorated over time and it might have to be removed in time. I asked a dentist friend about this when I was home in Fairhope in February and he suggested I have it done sooner rather than later as I was going to have to have it done eventually. I asked my Hoboken dentist and we arranged for me to talk to an oral surgeon.

I shall make this long story a little shorter. I had the tooth extracted on Friday and had some bone grafted to the place where it was so that a new tooth can be implanted later. Because it is that little tooth, closely surrounded by a lot of other teeth, this was a delicate operation. The procedure was not easy for the surgeon, his hygienist, or me. But we got the job done and I have spent the weekend pampering myself and eating ice cream, mashed potatoes, and other comfort foods. I discovered something in the A & P called Kozy Shack Cinnamon Raisin Rice Pudding. If there was ever baby food for grownups, that is it. Yummy.

And the little tooth will be replaced in August. In the meantime I have a nice little appliance with a false tooth in it to save the place. I have made quite a lot of my tooth's adventure, and now the grieving process is over. Back to real life--but I think I'll wait until tomorrow for that. I've still got some chocolate gelato in the freezer. And there are some mashed potatoes left over; they'll be good fried for breakfast with some eggs. Like so much in my life, it's mostly about food.


Steve said...

I had several molars done back in the 70's, the result of years of grinding my teeth as a child. All I can say is "OUCH"

Ron said...

Aw come on; it's just a tooth. :}

Stephen said...

Well I have to admit, I was guilty of selling and old friend or two, to the toof fairy growing up.

Ron said...

It must have skipped my generation, but my kids made out like bandits.

Dr Fealgoud said...

The love of my live has an expensive 3 piece set of dental
adornment. From college when thrust upon a pickup truck bumper and losing my entire smile, one
incisor was only broken into 3 pieces.It is glued together and now dangles from a golden chain all polished like a religious relic. More recently, I had 2 gold crowned molars replaced with implants at UAB Shcool of Dentistry. They are a tad heavy for pierced ear holes, but occasionally they get displayed along with the incisor talisman. For me, that is expensive jewelry in more than terms of money.
As for the fair ML, some country aspects of character could easily be forthcoming. With the ready-made space, centered for accuracy, you could learn to spit like a llama or hit a spitoon with snuff overflow awing your bar buds there in the HO. Another advantage is that if you get lockjaw, there will be access for nutrition. Somewhere I read that often teeth were removed to treat lockjaw. Maybe you could be a poster girl for that. But, you say you have a temporary replacement,
so our ML beauty yet abounds.