Disarming My Smile

I’ve mentioned previously that my teeth are expected to explode, but I believe that circumstances warrant a recap. My permanent canines got lost and never joined the rest of the band, leaving me with two baby teeth sitting uncomfortably as the adults talked about their medical conditions and how much they hated their jobs. Dentists have been prodding me to do something about this for years — one of them going so far as to dramatically proclaim that the two little guys would explode — but none could even suggest what to do once they were removed. Would fake teeth be put in on posts? How would that interact with the canines that were still lurking up there somewhere? What about a bridge? No one knew.

Finally, one dentist gave me a referral to an orthodontist. Doing things for me is always a much better approach, as I’m predisposed to inaction. Of course, it took a further visit, a fresh referral, and my wife making the appointment before I actually followed up on this step. Scans were taken, casts were made, and a plan was presented to us. After hearing it I asked if I could leave my teeth at the office until they were done. This question was sadly ignored.

See, after my baby teeth get pulled, there will be a gap. That would let my remaining teeth move around, which is apparently a BAD THING. This is because left to their own devices they’ve already screwed the pooch. Not only do I have a large over bite, but my top teeth actually slope inward. Certain predators use this type of dentition to trap prey within their mouths, but usually this just gets me caught up on apples. The orthodontist recommended 2.5 years of wrangling my ivory dogies into position, which sounds to me like a lot of effort to reform proven miscreants. And yet that seems pleasant compared to the one little extra detail. Those lost canines? They’re pushing against the roots of my upper incisors, so they’ve gotta go.

This week I go in to get braces on my upper teeth. Then I’ll meet with an oral surgeon to schedule the extraction of my wayward canines (and the incidental removal of the baby teeth). It’s happening in that order so that the movement of the other teeth is under control before they get their chance to run loose. After the top incisors are pointed in the right direction, I’ll get the matching set of metal for my lower teeth.

I want to wrap this up with something witty, but honestly just thinking about this exhausts me. So many appointments to come. So many teenagers in the waiting room. So much money. No popcorn for almost three years. I’ll be pushing 50 when all of this is done. And when it’s all over I need to see about controlling my probable sleep apnea.

Now I just need to find a way to get proper nutrition out of pudding and beer.


Short of Tooth

I went to see a dentist last month. It’s been a few years; we’d lost insurance after the whole mess with The Workshop, and after gaining benefits elsewhere we decided to find a new place. Wendi hadn’t liked the previous dentist, and I didn’t like running into my former bosses there. Finally, Wendi found an office she liked. She came back from her appointment with a clean, malicious grin and an appointment card for me.

At least she gave me almost a month to prepare myself to go in…

Oddly enough, dental phobia is not one of my hangups. I just don’t like unfamiliar places. Or unfamiliar people. Or waiting rooms. What I especially don’t enjoy is filling out “new patient” forms. There’s always something on them that I can’t understand or honestly don’t know. Then I feel like an idiot, and I panic that I won’t be allowed past the waiting room because I couldn’t finish the form.

This time it was the insurance information. I’m on Wendi’s and don’t actually have a card of my own. I put down her name as the account holder, but I didn’t even remember what insurance company it was with. Plus, after 19 years of marriage I still haven’t memorized Wendi’s social security number. I’m the worst identity thief ever.

Fortunately when I explained that they already had our insurance information on Wendi’s account, the receptionist believed me. When I left I was told that the exam was completely covered, so I assume everything worked out with my patient form despite my complete inability to fill in standard information.

I don’t want to cover the cleaning and the x-rays; it was pretty standard stuff. Although it was my first experience with a sonic pick, there’s really not much to say about that beyond “it was oddly uninteresting”. I mean, my electric toothbrush is noisier. Slighty less damp, though.

For me the biggest surprise was that I didn’t have any cavities. I got the usual rap about flossing more and gums that weren’t bad enough to warrant a real lecture, but other than that everything was okay. Everything, that is, but for the “known issue”.

This is the part that surprised the staff.

I’ve mentioned my mutant ankles. Well, my teeth aren’t exactly to spec either. (Just once, I’d like to get a useful mutation. Like, not having nose hair.) It turns out that my upper canines decided to grow sideways instead of down. In the x-rays you can see them, happily nestled in my gums, dreaming their canine dreams of biting into rarebit.

Where they should have come out, there are two extremely tired baby teeth. One of which is, in fact, sleeping the sleep from which none awaken. This caused some alarm in the exam room. As the dentist calmly put it, “They could explode at any time.” I’m sure that was a metaphor, but he did leave hastily after that pronouncement.

I have to go back in November so they can measure my gums again. No further mention was made of my little time bombs or what we should do to defuse them. I really don’t want my mouth to blow up. Hot fudge sundaes through an IV just aren’t as tasty.