Here's the scoop: September 18, 2013
Sinking my teeth into it. Or not
Quite a few years back, I had an “accident” that left me with one front tooth about half the size of its neighbor. Naturally, of all the teeth that someone can break, the front ones are pretty darn noticeable.
Back when this tooth was first chipped, there was a relatively new bonding procedure in dentistry that could repair such problems. So, I had a dentist bail me out of my picket fence look with some bonding. The patch would last for years, I was told.
That information proved to be correct. The bond did last for years. Three or four times, the bond has broken and a new one is put in place. In the past, there’s been a catalyst for breaking the bond. An ill-fated encounter with a gooey sweet confection known as a molasses paddle is one bond-shattering treat that I vividly recall.
Last week’s bond breaking didn’t involve the typical “equal and opposite reaction” of a physics equation. The bonded portion of my front tooth just fell from my mouth like an inappropriate comment.
I was annoyed. A few choice swearwords may have followed the tooth in short order. Ironically, only hours before this incident, I had declined the offer of an apple from a co-worker because I said that such foods threatened my bonded tooth. In the movies, they would call this foreshadowing.
Like most people, I generally am not in a rush to make a call to a dentist. This was an exception. A toothache causes miserable suffering, but since my tooth had been broken long ago, there was no pain, only vain. I enjoy a good laugh, but was in no mood for such activities with a gaping hole being the centerpiece of my mouth.
Heck, I couldn’t even let a smile be my umbrella anymore — there was a real threat of drowning with the amount of water that could potentially filter through that space.
Anyhow, I called the dentist a short time after my loss and explained the predicament.
“That’s no laughing matter,” my dentist quipped. Ha! Everyone’s a comedian at the expense (in more ways than one) of my mouth.
Down to business
It wasn’t a laughing matter — and I didn’t. The dentist sensed that my usual good humor had been chipped away by this annoying incident. She agreed to see me the following day. Unfortunately, I had a conflict and the next opening was a few days later.
This certainly wasn’t the end of the world and the only real drawback of the situation was embarrassment. On the bright side, I could drink from a straw and not really open my mouth. Pretty neat.
I tried to convince myself that I have done plenty of embarrassing things in life and having a crooked smile was not very high on the list. Still, it felt weird.
But, I had to spend the rest of the week either not smiling much or placing my hand strategically over my mouth. It wasn’t easy and every time I spoke to someone I had the overwhelming feeling that they were all staring at The Space Formerly Occupied by a Tooth and wondering how I dared go out in public looking like I’d come out on the short end of a bar brawl.
My dentist has treated me for far worse problems and knows that I enjoy the lighter side of life. So, before she started to apply the bond she was nice enough to ask, “Are you sure you don’t want to keep this look until after Halloween?”
“Sure, I’ll go with the Jack-O-Lantern look,” I replied, “but only if you treat me when you do the repair work.” That did the trick, an hour later, the tooth was fixed.
— Brian Sweeney