Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Are You Attached to Your Tooth?

(Warning, this does talk about dental procedures - if you're offended by such matter, skip this post and go look at some of my pretty pictures instead.)

You know how in the movies, when someone gets their tooth pulled out, the dentist is standing on their chest, yanking on the tooth with a pair of pliers? And you sit there and laugh, and think, that's crazy! Well, it's really not so far from the truth. See, yesterday, I went in to a new dentist (who my mom goes to, and I trust based off hearing him interact with her and her past experiences). Superbowl Sunday, while munching on a pretzel, one of my partial crowns popped off my back molar. Not good.

The dentist was able to fit me in yesterday, and the minute he looked at my crown I brought in, I could tell he was not happy with my previous dentist's choice (this previous dentist I refused to go back to after some bad experiences, so yesterday's visit cemented that even more). He looked at my tooth and proceeded to explain to me, with diagrams and fielding all my questions, that the partial crown I had was built to fail, and I either needed a full crown (which he would have to have made, so I wouldn't be getting anything fixed till later), and possibly a root canal later on. Doesn't that just sound like fun? Especially considering how much we paid for the partial crown in the first place!

And then I asked him if I really needed the tooth. See, I'm somewhat of a conundrum to dentists because I never got my upper 6-year-old molars. So I'm missing two teeth in the back of my mouth. I'm used to it, obviously - never known anything else! But the result is that my bottom two molars don't get used (probably why they started rotting out in the first place). He looked excited after checking my bite, and said I was barely using those molars at all, so I shouldn't miss it at all. And then asked, "Do you really want to pull it? Because some people are attached to their teeth - emotionally." Which seems funny, but I guess I can understand that. We grow up with the tooth fairy, and placing sentimental and monetary value on teeth. It's weird, but I guess it makes sense.

I, however, had no sentimental attachment to this tooth. Sure, it's been with me a while. But if it's going to cost me $750 to get a new crown, and then possibly $1200 later for a root canal after that, and I never know if the crown's going to pop off again...Yeah, let's just get rid of the problem - for $150. Especially since he said he could do it right then. In fact, he gave me the option of rescheduling for it, but it's so much worse when you have to anticipate that sort of thing. It was much easier, sitting in the chair already, to just get it taken care of.

And after getting numbed up, he proceeded to pull out the pliers and loosen the tooth. Then the ice pick/chisel thing got used - I pictured it like a little lever jacking up my tooth like replacing a tire on the car (yes, you have to picture fun little things in your head while your jaw's getting whipped around to keep from thinking about what's really going on). Apparently my tooth really liked being where it was, because the dentist was starting to grimace and sweat a bit. Which would have been funny if I were watching it in a movie. And, really, I was never nervous about my decision. When you trust a dentist, it makes all the difference in the world. Plus, he kept telling me what he was doing - "rotating it now; ok, the roots are curved, making it hard to pull out; wow, your bone here is really strong!" (that last one made me oddly proud). And then the drill came out. And I kept thinking - that smell is burnt popcorn. That's all it is. I may never be able to eat popcorn again, but it got me through that horrible smell. And then he left to get a new tool - some curved ice pick type dealy. At that point I just wanted it out. Because my jaw was so tired from supporting what he was doing, that I had to use my hands to support it.

The tooth came out first, but the roots took some time - and I was surprised at how big they were when he finally pulled them out. I think we take our teeth and jaws forgranted a lot, but I totally forgot that the roots actually go into the jaw bone. I think of it like plants growing out of cement - how'd it ever take root and flourish there? But our bodies do it all the time! And how weird that parts of the mouth can heal, but not our teeth.

Anyway, I sit here one gaping bloody hole happier, glad it's over, and ready to be healed up so that I can eat normal foods again (and not worrying about if it's going to get in the hole - the dentist seemed unconcerned, but gave me a suture or two to keep the big pieces out). In the meantime, I wait for the gauze over the hole to stop being bloody so I can stop having it in there and swallowing blood (it's pretty much done with that part); and it'll be nice when I can open my mouth all the way since it's still pretty sore. But I'll never have to worry about that tooth again, so I'm happy with my decision to lose a tooth. And now I'm going to rest and drink my smoothie...

1 comment:

vivzan said...

Wow, I didn't know this was the whole story! You are very, very brave.

So, now that your tooth is gone, sense any emotional attachment to it?

Are you sticking your tongue into the hole?

(insert that's what she said)

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