Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tooth Truths

Yesterday I sat in a dentist's chair for two hours while they chiseled off the plastic coverings on six of my teeth and the enamel on two more. I was floating on an echoing, delicious, acid jazz-filled cloud of nitrous oxide the whole time, so I couldn't have cared less. (I don't think I've ever had nitrous before. I would remember. The experience reminded me why I stay a strict distance away from drugs: because altered states are everything I want to be, and I would never stop if I ever started.) This is the second-to-last step in a journey that started when I was a very young girl, allergic to non-tooth-staining antibiotics, and continued through adolescence, when a different dentist chiseled off the stained enamel on my teeth with NO drugs involved (I still have vivid memories of the smell, the sound, the sensation), through estimates of how much it would cost to replace the decaying plastic that stood between my bones and everything I ate and drank and smiled at, through a patch job in Maryland, through worrying at my wedding that my unpretty teeth would be noticeable in pictures - and into mid-August, when porcelain with which I'll be buried will be affixed in eight places in my mouth.

That's a defamiliarization-ridden way of saying I'm getting my plastic veneers replaced with porcelain ones. Yesterday was the first session, where they stripped off the old stuff. I have a picture of what my teeth looked like under there, taken at my hazy request, but given the commonality of dental phobias, I'm not going to insert it here.

Instead, here's a guinea pig wearing a sombrero. 

I have so many thoughts and feelings about how this all went down and is going down that an essay about it is certain to come out of my fingers (and I think I just wrote a paragraph of that). You'd be surprised how much personal history is wrapped up with my teeth, how strong my opinions are about what I'm paying to have done to my smile. But for now I simply want to explain, to those who know me in real life, why I'm so grumpy today and why I'll be eating a lot of room-temperature soup and smoothies for the next couple of weeks.

The "temporaries" they gave me are really just an acrylic mouthguard that was melted onto my teeth. The hygenist compared it to Lee Press-On Nails, and the comparison is apt. It looks a little weird (especially up close) and feels awful. According to my dentist I can pretty much eat like normal, but doing so feels dreadful, so I'm going to stick with soft, swallowable-whole foods for as long as I can stand it.

That's all for today. Take a moment, whatever you're currently going through, and be grateful that your yesterday did not involve the procedure I had yesterday. I would not wish it on anyone.

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