This morning I arrived bright and early at the offices of my dentist for the first part of a two-round installation of a crown. My rear-most upper-left molar had simply worn out, if not down, to the point where it had cracks and a bothersome tendency to flex when I chew. That hurt and did not bode well for the long term structural integrity of the tooth.
I see this as a sign of aging and a right of passage, though not a sign of the end of life. I'm 43; this sort of thing is to be expected. I blame years of chewing ice cubes. Mom told me not to. Did I listen? No, I did not.
After about six months of denial, I steeled my courage and went in for the work this morning. Younger readers should understand that, when I was a lad, we didn't have the same level of dental care that you young whipper-snappers enjoy. I learned to dread dental work. It makes no sense now, of course; Drs. Barnhard and Jones, whom I see most often, are as painless as they can be. Even the novacaine shots are painless now.
I know these facts intellectually; on a sub-intellectual level, however, I still harbor some dread. So I was not happy about the prospect.
Of course, the actual hour of work by Dr. B. wasn't too bad. There's a lack of dignity involved; laying back, mouth agape, muscles tensed. It is odd to hear grinding and scraping in the center of your head and see splashes of water and occasional wisps of smoke just visible beyond your nose. Two grown people have both hands deep into your face; wielding drills and mirrors and spray nozzles and vacuum hoses and who knows what else.
So, there is a lack of comfort, but not really any pain.
After the excavation work, Dr. B. built a rudimentary molar to serve as a temporary cover while highly skilled craftsmen sculpt a replica of my former molar. I go back in a few weeks to have that work of art installed in my permanent collection.
I'm left with an odd feeling in my mouth. As the novacaine wears off, there's a slight discomfort (that's a medical term, many of us use the old fashioned "pain"). It is not unlike the sensation that follows a thorough cleaning when you haven't flossed as well as you should have for several months. Certainly not unbearable.
More interesting is that odd sensation of something foreign in my mouth; I remember this from having braces so long ago. It will take some getting used to the new shape of that sector of my mouth. By the time I do, of course, the new crown should be in place and I'll be back to something close to the original layout.
Now I'm back home. I've treated myself to a day off from work. I'll surf the web, Watch some old Monty Python, try to install a WiFi system in the house, visit the library, and enjoy meeting Colleen at the bus this afternoon.
I guess I'll take any excuse to spoil myself.