I’ve always been really proud of my teeth. Each time I go to the dentist, I come back with a clean report. “Still in the no cavity club! 33 years running!” I use an electric toothbrush, I floss like a champ, and thankfully I have never had to have my wisdom teeth removed. Queen of Dental Hygiene, if you will. I am sure you can imagine my chagrin when a few weeks ago, I was chewing and the left side of my mouth was hurting. I called the dentist as soon as I was able. I had figured that my lifelong run in the no cavity club was coming to a close, but I was wrong.
I would need a crown.
Apparently, crowns are quite common, but because I’ve had such a stellar record, I’ve never paid attention to different kinds of dental work. My dentist had the nerve to tell me that sometimes these things just happen to people as they get older.
What an awful thing to say to someone. Not only am I going to need to shell out an unplanned sizable amount of my paycheck, but apparently I am aging as well? All this flossing and fluoride and technology is not preventing this? What is the bloody point?!
I spent the week before my appointment to get my temporary crown fearing what the procedure would be like. I didn’t anticipate feeling any physical pain, but I was very depressed about needing dental work. I sat in the chair, feeling like a drama queen as I asked the dentist one last time. “Are you absolutely sure that I need to do this?” He assured me that he thought this was the best path forward to prevent an eventual root canal and that there was evidence that I had somehow fractured my tooth. Yikes. He anesthetized me and I waited as I felt my mouth get tingly. Out came his drill and I found myself wishing I were under general anesthesia simply to escape my thoughts. I watched the particles of my tooth being sanded away and all I could think to myself was that this was the beginning of the end. My journey from ashes to ashes and dust to dust was starting with the number nineteen – my sad little molar that I thought was gonna make it with me to the finish line.
As we wrapped up, the hygienist left me with important instructions, noting that I would have the temporary in for three weeks instead of the normal two. Favor your right side. No hard or sticky foods. I remarked that this would be a Christmas miracle, indeed – eating less over the holidays. On the drive home, I thought to myself, maybe this is why people have children – in a futile attempt to try to counter our march toward death. Granted, we can’t stop it, but it is nice to have someone around who (Lord willing!) is a bit further away from it. Someone with all of their unmodified, natural teeth. Makes you think.
What else can I say? At least the queen has a crown now…