Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mental gentle dental

Apparently, I've got to stop eating bagels.

This past Monday, I was enjoying a bagel and cream cheese with my coffee at the Black Chicken when, out of nowhere, my bagel started crunching with each chew.

Not normal.

I was sitting at a table with my friends, so I wasn't about to reach into my mouth full of food to see what was happening. I assumed the worst and figured a filling from an upper back left molar had broken off. So I made an appointment on Tuesday with Dr. Sim Siceloff, my dentist for more than 20 years.

Siceloff confirmed my suspicion that a partial filling had broken off and I had two options: either get the tooth crowned, or have the remaining sharp edges filed down and wait and see. There was no pain in the tooth — no sensitivity to hot or cold — so I opted for the filing, since my dental insurance vanished with my retirement from The Dispatch.

The next day, while at my part-time job, I was enjoying a pack of crackers from the vending machine when, unexpectedly, I bit down on something hard.

Yep. The entire filling had fallen out of that tooth.

So it was back to Siceloff on Wednesday. When he customarily went to shake my hand, I dropped the filling — which I kept for this moment — into his proffered open palm. "Same tooth?" he asked looking at it. "Yep," I replied. We both sighed.

He took another look in my mouth. "Crown," he said, and I nodded.

So I made another appointment — my third in a week — for this coming Tuesday to have some crown work done. Oh, yeah. Tuesday's my birthday. Shots. Drills. Braces. Sharp pokey instruments in my numbed mouth. Happy birthday to me.

The odd thing about this is that through it all, my tooth has not bothered me one bit (no pun there). No pain at all. Siceloff said that as we age the nerve endings may become insensitive with the passing of time. So I guess there are some benefits to getting older.

And this makes sense to me because when we were taking care of Kim's elderly father, and he kept falling, we were told it was in part because as we get older, the nerves in our extremities — fingers and toes — become less sensitive to contact. It's why older people are more likely to take careful baby steps when they walk to guard against tumbles. In essence, the older we get, the less contact we make with the planet.

I see that on a mental level all the time. But apparently it can also be physical.

Anyway, on Saturday, I was enjoying another bagel with cream cheese when, oh no. You guessed it. Another object fell out of my mandible.

Table etiquette be damned, this time I reached into my bagel filled mouth and pulled out  — an entire crown!

Are you kidding me? Nope, it was true. It was confirmed by my tablemates as we grossly passed the crown around for a look-see. "It's a crown," they said.

I haven't talked with Siceloff since this latest event. I'm waiting until Tuesday when I walk into his office and he offers to shake my hand. I've got something for him.

I think this crown came from the molar next to the one that has given me trouble. So let me get this straight: I've had the back upper left wisdom tooth removed years ago; now the molar next to that has lost its filling, and apparently, the molar next to that has lost its crown.

It seems my body is finally rejecting my dental work. It also means I'm down to 28 usable teeth now. I'm fading fast.

I guess I better stop eating bagels.

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