21 December 2008

Getting long in the tooth.

Teeth are fascinating to me. From the first time the tooth fairy visited until this past Friday, when I had a tooth pulled, I find them almost magical, somehow. I mean, I know they're NOT magical (please don't write to point this out), but they are so unusual in the realm of the human body. Little visible bones that grow and break down and hurt and shine in photos and make us look older or younger or poorer or richer than we maybe really are. I find it fascinating that modern dentistry didn't much take off in the US until after WWI, and really became popular after WWII, because soldiers were provided dental care and came to like having their teeth cared for, I guess. Fluoride toothpaste was introduced in the 1950s. I find it compelling that the history of dentistry is linked to industrialization in many ways.

And teeth are BIG. I mean, they don't seem that big, do they? But the molar I had pulled Friday must've been an inch and a half long. How crazy is that? We just yank these things out of our heads? I found a drawing (read: not gross) of a tooth to illustrate my point here. Only that little bit above the gumline, and then it just hangs on to our jaw for dear life.

I have had more than my share of tooth trouble: seven root canals, two non-wisdom molars pulled, a chip from a Leinenkugel's bottle...right now, though, all's quiet in there. I know that drinking large quantities of Coca-Cola does not help me, and I don't floss as often as I should. When we were kids, our dentist was a nice enough man, outside of the office, but in the office he was impatient and not very good at getting novocaine in the right place. He also had really thick fingers, which is normally not an issue for me, but with fingers that thick one really ought not to be a children's dentist. Or a guitar player, frankly, but that's beside the point. My sister was especially traumatized by this guy, and still needs to take Xanax for most dental procedures.

Anyway, I'm very thankful for my new dentist, who I've been seeing for about three years (that sounds romantic, doesn't it?). He pulled my tooth on Friday without causing me pain at the time, let me have some vicodin for the pain later, and didn't make me feel guilty that I didn't want to try to save a tooth that was not vital. I often have felt at the dentist like I do at a mechanic's: I just have to trust that they're not screwing me over, because I don't know anything at all about the field. I trust these folks, which is a good thing, because it's not like I'm gonna stop drinking Coke anytime soon.


Anonymous said...

Thanks I needed that. I am looking at an extraction and have been putting it off, but know I have to get it taken care of. Your note was encouraging.

Deron Arnold said...

You sound pretty brave. I admire you. You have a fairly humorous and upbeat take on dentistry.

My mom has also had an amazing amount of work done and she even experienced pre-anesthetic dentistry. (Ask your mom if she had any of this.)

Jan's parents just got tired of their teeth and had them all pulled at once (at a fairly young age I might add).

Anyway, the reason I am commenting is to suggest that after drinking the Coke, you swish your teeth with water. This will help get some of the sugary acids off.