Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Tale of Two Teeth

Warning, readers: I'm about to tell you a story about teeth.  (Sorry if that sounds boring; by the end, you may feel as if I've administered a healthy dose of laughing gas.  Only you probably won't be laughing.)

I thought about this post yesterday afternoon while on my four-mile walk, so please take that into account when you look at the selfies I snapped for it right after I got home.  (Here's another warning: yes, there are selfies in this post.  And that sheen on my face is not sweat; it's what they call a "glow.")

If you read my blog yesterday morning, you know that I wasn't feeling like the most lovable of wives. The night before, I'd made my husband feel like he was so, so wrong, even though he wasn't because it absolutely WAS about the nail--that is, the tooth.

Okay, I better back up here.  I have been going through a rather painful and discouraging saga involving the molars on the upper right side of my jaw.  It started quite a few years ago, with an aching pain that made its way through my cheekbone and right up into my eye. Nothing ever showed up on x-rays, so I went around thinking I was just one of those people who suffered from inexplicable pain.  Or that I had sinus problems that made my teeth ache. "My face hurts me.  Does it hurt you?" I'd jokingly ask my long-suffering husband. (Hardee-har-har.)

Finally, a little over five years ago, I could no longer bite down on my two back molars and the wisdom tooth behind them, and something had to be done. The wisdom tooth was extracted and the two molars in front of it first got crowns, and then had root canals.  Some of the roots of those molars were curved and hard to fill, and the endodontist who worked on them warned me that those teeth might not last forever.  For a time, however, it seemed that my problems were at long last over.  I had a full set of teeth and I wasn't in pain.

Fast forward to earlier this summer.  That awful aching pain returned, and it was determined that the back molar either needed a surgical procedure to remove a twisted root, or it needed to be extracted. I opted for surgery, hoping to keep the tooth.  But that meant going on antibiotics before the procedure, and I ended up in the ER suffering from a severe allergic reaction to the medication.  I'd already had allergic reactions to three other antibiotics, and I was running out of options; so the endodontist advised me to just get rid of the tooth, since she couldn't guarantee the procedure would be a success anyway.

"You absolutely won't be able to see that the tooth is gone.  Even when you smile your biggest smile, it won't show."  That's what everyone--my dentist, the endodontist, and the oral surgeon--told me, and they were right.  "If you lose the one in front of it, though, that's a different story.  But really, you can't tell at all."

You're still there?  Okay.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  Guess which tooth started to give me problems?  And guess which tooth I had to have extracted about a week ago?

I'm ashamed to say that I have been the biggest possible baby about losing this latest tooth. My poor dad had to have the front of his right foot amputated, and he handled that better than I'm handling this.

Anyway, while my husband was away on a trip, I came up with a great plan to make it look like I have a tooth where there is none.  I combined some white and yellow gum to get just the right shade, made a nice little wad that fit just perfectly into the gaping hole on the side of my jaw...and check it out!


 And after:
When I showed my husband my ingenious plan for faking a tooth until I can get a permanent implant about six months from now, he said, "You really can't see that gap, you know, unless you exaggerate your smile and put your face right up next to mine." Men aren't mind readers, so it's not his fault that what I wanted him to say was something along the lines of, "Wow!  You should go into business making prosthetic teeth!  It looks so real, you'll totally fool everyone with that."  It's not his fault that telling me the gap is not really noticeable made me act in an irrational manner.  He was only trying to make me feel better.

But the truth is that I don't want to have to walk around with a wad of gum in my mouth at my middle son's wedding in December, and luckily, it looks like I won't have to.   My dentist suggested making some sort of temporary "tooth" that I can wear until I get the implant.  It's expensive, and it won't be covered by insurance. But my husband is a softie and wants me to be happy, and I did tell him that "all I want for Christmas is my two back teeth."

It's silly, I know, to be so concerned and embarrassed about missing teeth.  I've had myself fooled, thinking that I'm not a very vain person--because the grays are coming in, but I don't color my hair, and the wrinkles are multiplying, but I don't plan to resort to plastic surgery or Botox.  But this whole saga with my teeth has made me realize that I am indeed much too vain about my appearance. I recently read Michelle Buckman's awesome novel Rachel's Contrition, and in the course of the story her heroine is deeply affected by St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Reading Buckman's book made me want to redouble my efforts to follow the example of that amazing saint, who never would have let the extraction of a couple of teeth fill her with self-pity and cause her to be cranky with her loved ones. But in spite of all my good intentions, I've already failed in that mission. Boy, I could sure use some help carrying my measly little crosses without complaint!

I'll end this way-too-long-already tale with two thoughts: thank God for patient husbands and modern dentistry; and St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for me!


  1. You literally had me laughing out loud at my work desk with the "all I want for Christmas is my two back teeth" line. HAHAHAAHAHA!

    1. Laughter is the best medicine! So I'm trying to see the humor in this. :)

  2. Wish you didn't have to go through that! What a pain in the teeth.

    1. I'm definitely Mimi and Bigfoot's daughter!

  3. I totally get it!!! My daughters wedding is coming up in February. My teeth make me crazy and so I made a decision to be proactive I, TODAY, just got invisaligns! Laura I was simply giddy all night... my teeth feel straighter already, which is silly because this is a 18 month to 2 year plan. My fingers are crossed that by February wedding time... they will look at least a little straighter and if it is just in my head I am good with that!

    1. Sometimes I think I might like to do Invisalign, too--because I have this overbite that was fixed by 3 and 1/2 years of braces but has come back with a vengeance. But at this point, I'll settle for a full set if teeth!

      Congratulations--you must be so excited (and broke!). This will be our second child to get married, just like you guys. We're in a really exciting stage of life, aren't we?