A Toothful Tale

Posted by on February 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm :: No Comments

If you are like the average person, you probably think about your teeth roughly four minutes a day at most…unless you are the unfortunate victim of a toothache, in which case you may find it difficult to think about anything else. Yes, most of us only give our chompers a passing thought in the morning and evening as we do our ritual brushing until something goes horribly wrong…or even a little wrong. Teeth, like that grouchy old man next door, are easily irritated. Recently I’ve had some ill-fated misfortunes in the molar department. Since February is a time for gushing tales of star-crossed lovers, in that celebrated tradition I humbly present to you this riveting story of my star-crossed teeth.

On New Year’s Eve I noticed that one side of my mouth seemed unusually sensitive but I didn’t give it much thought. (I suffer from a wanton disregard of pain.) However, later that evening, when Jason and I got home from our revelries, we decided to have a little snack and a few nibbles into that pizza my mouth got mean beyond even my ability to ignore. It suddenly hurt to bite on my left side, which started throbbing. I noticed, upon tongue probing, that there was a jagged spot on one of my molars. It felt like a crack. Oh hateful fate!

I nearly swallowed this chunk of faux-enamel.

I nearly swallowed this chunk of faux-enamel.

Seeing as it was New Year’s, there seemed to be little I could do to remedy the situation immediately but the day following the holiday I called my dentist. Of course, as luck would have it, he was out of town and wouldn’t be able to see me for almost a week. That delay didn’t seem too grievous. So what if I had to bite on one side for a few days or so. No biggie. Until…

That evening I was chewing some gum, only on my good side of course, and I must have just barely brushed the questionable part of my maw with it because all of a sudden I found myself chewing on a large chunk of tooth. When you’ve just spit out a big piece of molar and you have no idea what pain’s got in store for you and no help is imminent, panicking is advisable. (Ninety-five percent of those polled agree.) That’s exactly what I did. A restless night followed as visions of unmentionable toothache terrors filled my anxious head.

Biting on my troubled side had already been out of the question but I now found that drinking was also a big problem. Anything liquid coming into contact with the exposed area of my mouth made my nerves light up like a Christmas tree from hell. So I resorted to drinking gracelessly through a straw crammed in my good cheek. Yes, it was as awkward and inefficient as it sounds. Hence, I was perpetually thirsty and probably perpetually ornery. Within a few days, I realized that I could drink without a straw by holding incoming liquids on the roof of my mouth with my tongue, shepherding them away from my problem spot. As excited as I was about this breakthrough, my newfound method of drinking proved only slightly less annoying than my sucky one.

Drinking lopsidedly through a straw was neither convenient nor dignified but, in the interest of pain prevention, it was necessary.

Drinking lopsidedly through a straw was neither convenient nor dignified but, in the interest of pain prevention, it was necessary.

When my big day with the dentist came, as suspected, he told me that a crown had broken but that the tooth underneath looked perfect. He didn’t have time to put a new crown on right then but he didn’t seem too concerned with the situation. He rubbed some sort of desensitizing agent on my tooth and told me that I could bite on that side and drink like normal until my next appointment in another week. Sounded pretty good…in theory.

I had confidence in my dentist’s judgment and faithfully tried chewing on my broken side after that first meeting but, surprisingly, it still hurt like the dickens to do so and I soon had to abort the notion. Drinking was slightly better than before with the desensitizer but not much. I wondered why the dentist’s estimations were so far from my reality. The engrossing answers to these perplexities were all revealed at my next appointment. Read on fair readers, read on.

When I went in the following week to get my broken crown removed and a temporary one put in its place, and had a whole herd of hands in my mouth, I noticed that the dentist got a surprised look on his face at one point and asked one of his assistants for some sort of something in a hurry. I didn’t know what it was all about but it didn’t seem like it could be good.

It turns out that the tooth underneath my shattered crown was cracked. When the dentist removed the broken porcelain, this became apparent. After being bonded to fix that crack, temporarily crowned and then permanently covered, my molar is now back in action. It took five weeks in total for this all to happen and yes, there was a lot of agony involved in those procedures so ouch, ouch, ouch for the record.

For the curious or the likewise injured: pain when biting and sensitivity to liquids are both symptoms of a cracked tooth. Yes, the grand plan of the creator completely makes sense now. X-rays may not show a tooth crack incidentally, which was true in my case. Cracks can cause any crowns that cover them to fracture but crowns don’t need any help in failing apparently; they break on average every five to fifteen years. If one lasts a decade then the dentist can pat himself on the back for a job well done. I guess that means I can look forward to repeating this woeful experience at least a few more times in my life. Is there no relief for the star-crossed?

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