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07/19/2004 Entry: "Decay, Both Oral And Moral."

I would like to recommend that, if you have the opportunity to avoid it, don't let your teeth get to the point where you need to have root canal treatment done. It's been a few days now and it's only now becoming less irritated. I hope the Ibuprofen 800 is doing something besides making me spacy.

But I may quit the painkillers. A little pain I can handle; I may cry like a baby about it, but I can handle it. I always feel like I should prepare the dentist for my various mannerisms while they're doing work...if I'm anxious, I'll sing or hum, as well as can be done while two pairs of hands and a shoe box of dental implements are hanging around inside my mouth. If I am remotely aware of a needle I will begin to breathe deeply and squeeze the paper towel in my hands. Did I mention the paper towel? I have to have something to squeeze, and the paper towel serves triple duty as sweat-wiper, drool-blotter and hand-occupier. You really don't want to shake my hands afterwards until I've washed.

I also get a little emotional at the dentist, which feels really silly afterwards. Not during the process, but beforehand. I walk in like a condemned man. I've started to tear up on the MUNI on my way there. I think it's because I sit in the chair and am faced with the truth about my mortality and my poor self image. Like all creatures, the meat begins to rot; but this meat is me, and I am forced to admit that I am bothered by the fact.

The mouth is my orifice of comfort, whether that's the familiar binge eating or sex or the old smoking habit. It's I mistrust anything that it's involved in as base or vain. My teeth are where I displace a lot of self hatred. I may claim that I'm just too busy to go, but inside I know that the years of neglect I subject them to is because I didn't feel worthy of being taken care of. More than once I've referred to the various treatments as my "penance," which is interesting since I've neither done something morally wrong nor is my family Catholic.

The new dentist who did the root canal on Friday was talking with me about the color for the crown. She recommended that I choose the more aesthetically pleasant color, even if it won't exactly match the rest of my smile right now. That way in case I decide to spend money on cosmetic dentistry, I'll have the option. I made some disparaging remarks about the streaks and colors in my teeth and she jerked her head back. "Don't say that to a dentist! Those colors are perfectly natural and give your teeth character. God made them like that, and there's nothing wrong with them." Ok, the god part was a little lost on me, but her point wasn't...particularly coming from someone who stands to make money from my insecurities. I may still choose to buy in to the prevailing vanities, but I must do so mindfully.

Or at least, as mindfully as possible while on these drugs. Whee!

Replies: 3 comments

I love you.

Posted by sillynun @ 07/19/2004 07:51 PM PST

Sucks doesn't it.

I had a crazy unexpected gum infection happen in 96 and it spread to a molar and I ended up having to have a root canal, and a good portion of infected gum flesh removed. Not fun.

I went with the steel crown since my dentist said it would last much longer and is better for mashing, which of course is was molars do.

Actually, you can't see it anyway since I rarely find anything amusing enough to smile at.

Also, it is nice to know that your teeth are as God intended them. Are they conservative Christian teeth? Will they vote Republican?

Posted by Nala @ 07/20/2004 11:28 AM PST

I snarfed up my "Wavy Lays" when I read the line: "The mouth is my orifice of comfort" -- Truer words have never been spoken.

I actually enjoy going to my dentist, who is probably the hippest dentist in Chicago: he has lots of rock-n-roll memorabilia: a smashed keyboard from Trent Reznor, a signed Nirvana album, a photo of Scott Wyland of STP....

Posted by Colin @ 07/21/2004 10:16 AM PST

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