home from the dentist
tracing my teeth
© Steve Mitchell 2021
home from the dentist
tracing my teeth
© Steve Mitchell 2021
Today, after work, if all goes according to plan, I’ll get my permanent crown.
I’m not normally too excited to go to the dentist, but I’m tired of this temporary crown business. Sure, I’m used to it. It hasn’t been too onerous and it’s been mostly pain free.
I’m just looking forward to chewing with both sides of my mouth.
I’m looking forward to eating hard and sticky foods at my whim.
I’m looking forward to flossing with abandon and using my electric tooth brush where ever I want.
Simple things, I guess.
Fingers crossed, everything will come together and, after this today, I shall, henceforth refer to myself as We.
And I’ll chew gum.
0kay, well, I went and got my temporary crown today. You might remember I wasn’t looking forward to it at all.
How did it go?
It went fine.
Overall, the procedure wasn’t any more uncomfortable or painful than getting a filling; although, now, a couple of hours later, my gums ache a fair amount right there. I feel like I’ve been a little abused but it’s not too bad. There’s some irritation and the ache feels sort of as if I’d been clenching that tooth for a long time. Can you clench a single tooth? If you’re the acting King, you can!
I was concerned about the anesthetics. The last time I got a filling, the Lidocaine shots gave me momentary heart-racing palpitations. I mentioned it to the dentist, so he numbed me in stages and I didn’t have any reaction. That was nice of him.
So, now I have an acrylic, temporary crown. It’s flat and it’s shorter than the surrounding teeth to minimize the chance of breakage. I have to wait about three weeks for the permanent, porcelain crown to be ready.
In the meantime, I have to avoid hard foods and sticky foods and possibly cold liquids and hot liquids (the root of that tooth might be sensitive to temperature through the thin acrylic.) Also, I can’t floss that tooth until I get the permanent crown.
And that’s that. Hopefully, all the hard part is over.
Hopefully I won’t ever need another one.
Because, really, you only need one crown to be King.
Achh. Tomorrow I’ve got a dental appointment to get a crown.
It’s not the awesome kind of crown, the kind you wear on your head then people have to do what you say.
No. It’s the kind of crown which gets glued to what’s left of your tooth after they grind the tooth down to shape.
I’m not looking forward to the experience. I was supposed to have it done last month, but, first you get a temporary crown while they make the permanent one, and I didn’t want to be on vacation with a temporary crown. A person can’t enjoy his/her vacation while chewing carefully on only one side!
Anyhow. Tomorrow is the day.
I’m trying to be pragmatic. My tooth isn’t in bad shape. It’s just that it already had one filling and now it has another cavity, close to the original filling. The dentist said they could fill the second cavity, but it’d leave the tooth weaker and might not hold up in the long run. He gave me the option.
I figure it’ll be cheaper, in the scheme of things, to get the crown and hopefully prevent the need, down the line, for a root canal or an extraction/implant/bridge/whathaveyou.
Yeah. Not that kind of crown.
Maybe I’ll still tell people what to do.
I took Alec to his dentist appointment this morning. They made me fill out the medical forms again. Why? Don’t they still have the info from before?
I didn’t have his social security number handy. I couldn’t remember his physician’s name and number. Luckily I had the insurance information.
Those forms drive me nuts. But the visit was free.
His cleaning went fine. They had to work around his braces and springs. The hygienist accidentally poked him in the gums a couple of times. She recommends we get him a good electric toothbrush to help with his back teeth and between all the brackets and braces.
So that’s on the list.
Back at home, Alec and I binged watched the rest of season 3 of Walking Dead on Netflix. He’d caught up to where I’d left off, so now it’s all new to me.
It’s more fun watching it with him than watching it alone. We goof around and crack wise. Alec is smart and funny.
Then I went and got my haircut. I’d been wearing it a little longer on top, but it kept falling in my eyes at work, so I dialed it back.
It’s 109 degrees farenheit outside right now.
After my haircut, I went to Trader Joe’s to get bread for my lunches this week. I also bought cream because I’d seen a recipe for what’s supposed to be the best scrambled eggs ever but it needs cream and you have to cook the eggs for about 30 minutes. Maybe I’ll cook some right soon as a snack before a late dinner.
The Trader Joe’s where we shop has new terminals and Apple Pay works on them. I paid with my watch! It was mighty cool. I still had to choose debit or credit and, since I chose debit, I had to enter my pin and okay the amount and say no to the cash back. But the watch just worked, easy as can be.
The future, it is coming!
When I got home, I threw in some laundry and washed some dishes. Alec volunteered to finish washing them for me and that’s all right.
While he finished the dishes, I sat at my blog and recapped the day, Tomorrow I go back to work, my last week before a two week vacation.
And that’s mostly it.
Tuesday, my Sunday.
I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year.
But, man, the holidays did a number on me. Sometime around the end of November I realized I had to let my kilt straps out a notch. And I noticed my pants, which had started to fit all loose, no longer fit all loose.
I blame the cookies …
and the candy …
and the booze.
And I blame myself.
I’d somewhere, somehow, quit paying attention to my diet. And I’d somewhere, somehow, quit meditating every day. And, although I continued to exercise hard, I’d somewhere, somehow, decreased the duration of my workouts if not the intensity.
Also, and then, on my last dental visit, this Monday last, they found a small cavity … in one of my teeth.
What to do?
I got the cavity filled.
I’ve resumed my daily meditation.
I’ve pulled back from the comfort foods.
I’ve upped the duration of my workouts and, hopefully, the intensity too.
It’s how it goes.
It all goes in circles.
No resolutions here.
I’ll just keep on keeping on.
I wasn’t careful today and I accidentally learned something.
I’d gone in for a followup periodontal checkup/cleaning. It turns out my gum health is pretty good, thank you.
But, here’s what I learned:
When flossing, you should also floss behind the back teeth.
I did not know that.
I’ve always thought of flossing as something you do between the teeth, you know, furiously, on the morning of your impending dental visit.
But tartar can build up on the back edge of the teeth, under gums and that’s where my periodontist had to do the most work today.
Get the backs of the teeth too.
Our gums will thank us.
So, my recent trips to the dentist were the first times I’d had my teeth checked/worked on in a long time – in a very long time. I won’t even say how long. It had been a stoopid long time.
I was scared to death of what the dentist would find. I was braced for disaster. I expected extractions and root canals and prosthetics and scaffolding and surgeries and pain and Oompa Loompas and dollar signs.
It turned out to be not so bad. I needed surprisingly little repair and some serious deep cleaning.
Whew! What a relief!
Now, the teeth are squared away and I’m looking at getting a full wellness physical
Again, I’m afraid.
I’m pretty healthy on the surface of it. I’m reasonably lean. I work out. I don’t eat too much crap.
But, I’ve only been to see a doctor a handful of times since I got out of the service. I went after my motorcycle wreck. I went when I had pneumonia. I went when had a urinary tract infection.
I haven’t had an actual full exam in years.
So who knows what’s hiding under the surface?
I’m so afraid they’ll find some chronic condition (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and I’ll be put on a roller coaster of medication and symptom management and that’ll cause more chronic conditions and I’ll need more medications and . . . ugh.
Right now I take none medications.
I sometimes take aspirin.
And I drink the booze.
I don’t really like my primary care physician so I’ve looked up another doctor, an internist, and now I’m screwing up the courage to make the call and schedule an exam with blood tests and stress tests and trained monkeys and the works.
I may not like what they find, but who knows?
Maybe I’ll be very relieved.
I’ve put it off long enough.
Well, I mentioned I had to take my younger son to the dentist. It went fine. He had one small cavity and he’s most likely going to need braces. No surprise, that.
What I didn’t mention is that I was closely scrutinizing the dentist and his office. It was our first visit to this office and I had an ulterior motive for going along – I need to find a dentist I’m comfortable with. I’m waaaay overdue. I’ve been slowly trying to build the momentum, and the courage, to get myself to a dentist.
I haven’t been to a dentist in nearly 20 years – not since I was in the Air Force. In those two decades I’ve smoked countless cigarettes (I’ve quit some ten years back), and hundreds of cigars. I’ve drank gallons of wine and even more gallons and gallons of coffee. I don’t have a tremendous sweet tooth, but, hey, in twenty years, a fellow eats a lot of sugar. I’ve taken care of my teeth in an average way. I brush and I floss, but, again, twenty years! My teeth are overdue some professional care.
I have no doubt I have cavities and tartar and plaque and staining and who knows what. My teeth and gums don’t bother me now, even still, but I’m afraid I may have already let things go to far and may have to have some teeth pulled and I’m vain enough not to want gaping holes in my mouth where teeth should live. Hopefully there’s still time to prevent that. Also, better dental health means better over all health.
But, oh how I dread it. It’s been easy to put it off because my teeth don’t hurt and dentist visits do. Oh, and even the nicest dental assistant, faced with the mess I’m bringing, will be hard pressed not to lecture me. I’m going to have to swallow some humble pie. I dread it. I dread it all, but, there was my nine year old son, stoically enduring the poking and prodding and scraping. Shaming me with his bravery. He’s a trooper.
So, it’s something I have to do. For myself and for my son.